Coaching indoors this winter?

Cold nights, wind, rain, sleet, snow…

At this time of year, many youth football coaches are thinking about moving their coaching sessions indoors until the weather improves.

But indoor football coaching has its own, unique, set of problems that have to be considered when you are planning your sessions.

The main one, of course, is the relative lack of space but you can overcome this by organising your activities using the Magic Rectangle.

The Magic Rectangle was devised by top Dutch coach Bert-Jan Heijmans. It is a simple but amazingly effective coaching technique that allows you to work with four small groups simultaneously.

The Magic Rectangle also helps you use every inch of space in your hall as effectively as possible.

You can conduct a full coaching session in the rectangle: Warm your players up, do some technical work, practice technique in 1v1 or 2v2 situations and even play SSGs.

Every player is involved all the time, transitions are fast and there’s very little need, if any, to pick up or put down cones.

These are a few games that you can use in the MR:

Up in The Air

Players throw a ball in the air, sit down, stand up and catch it before it lands. Then throw the ball up and control it with feet (or any other part of the body) as it lands.

Small Group Passing

Pair players up and get them to pass the ball to each other in their grid.

Make sure the passer moves immediately to a new space and the receiving player passes back to his partner’s feet.

Start with three-touch then move to two-touch and finally one-touch.

Now make one of the players a defender and the rest of the group keep the ball away from her. Then call “change” and the defenders run to a different group and try to stop them passing. If it’s too easy, add a second defender.

Change the defender every minute or two and make the game competitive by seeing which defender can win the most balls in a set time.

Ball Tag

Three players pass the ball in their rectangle. The fourth player (the defender) ties to tag the player in possession. Play for a minute or two then rotate the defender. Then add a second ball.

Line Soccer

Play 2v2 in each rectangle. Pairs of players have five minutes to get the ball to their opponent’s end line as many times as possible. At the end of the five minutes, rotate the players so that the winning teams play each other.

Coaching note: Any 2v2 game can be progressed to 4v4 by simply removing the dividing line between two of the four rectangles.

For some more ideas, why not have a look at 64 Small-Sided Games.


A regular ball can be difficult to control on a hard floor and you will find that your indoor coaching games work better if you use futsals (or futebol de salao) instead.

If you have to use regular balls, it is a good idea to deflate them slightly to reduce the bounce.

Managing the end of session scrimmage

At the end of your coaching session you want to play a “match” using the entire hall.

But you can’t let all your players play at the same time.

I’ve found that the best way to manage this situation is to play 4v4, winner stays on, one goal wins the game.

But what do you do with the teams that are waiting to play?

If the hall is big enough you could play two 4v4 games across the hall.

Another option is to line the waiting players along the sides of the hall where they act as side supports, receiving passes and playing the ball back to the team that passed to them.

A third way of managing the waiting players was suggested to me by coach Derek.

He numbers all his players, for example, 1 to 16.

The first “match” begins with players 1 to 8. After two minutes, he swaps player 1 with player 9, player 2 with player 10 and so on.


Coaching football in small spaces is challenging for any coach.

But with a bit of thought and organisation (and a bit of magic!), coaching indoors can be productive and fun. And it’s a lot better than being outdoors on cold winter evenings!