Basic small sided soccer tactics

7v7 illustrates exactly how to build a small sided game that addresses a specific problem.

The problem is “What is the best competitive form to develop the attacking qualities of wingers, what are the minimum requirements?”

1) We want to have both wings involved and wingers, by definition, play on either side of a central player. This requires three top players.

2) The attacking qualities of wingers will include crossing the ball. A common result of crosses is the goalkeeper making a save, so a goalkeeper is necessary.

3) Since we are concerned with the attacking qualities the wingers will need someone behind them to defend. This will require three back players which also leaves the wingers with an immediate opponent that they will have to beat. (If you use two defenders against three forwards, 6v6, at least one of the top players will have to come back in order to establish a balance.)

From this assessment the minimum number of players needed for a competitive game that encourages attacking wing play is seven, three top players, three back players and a goalkeeper. Since this concerns the competitive phase of the game the opponents will play with equal numbers, 7v7. Since there are goalkeepers there must be goals and the field must be small enough to allow a lot of attacking opportunities but large enough for building up play.
7v7 – Counter attacking.


The examples above work well when the two teams are evenly balanced or you are coaching the team that can dominate the opponent. However, when you are faced with an opponent that is clearly superior then a different approach to the game might be necessary.

When you are sure that the opponents will have a lot of possession and can dictate play the counter attacking game can offer the best chance for success. In this game the probabilities are, 1) you cannot hold the opponents in their own half, 2) you will have little success building up the play from deep in your own half, 3) you will have very little time for any buildup, 4) much of the action will be in front of your own goal.

Instead of thinking in terms of a 3-3, using wingers and trying to spread the field, think how a 4-2, with the center forward withdrawn into a primarily defensive role, can help to answer some of the problems. In this example the number 7’s primary task is defensive, he becomes a center midfielder. When in possession he will support the top players from behind the ball. He will avoid runs out to the wings and ahead of the top players because these will take him too far away from the center of the field and hinder his basic task. (Remember, you won’t have much of the ball.) When not in possession he will take up a position very close to the back three to try to make up in numbers what you may lack in quality. While the number 2 and 4 can move up on the wings chances are they will be too far back to be of any real use.

The attacking strength will lay in the abilities of the two top players to quickly combine and exploit any mistakes by the opponents. They will need to have a good understanding between each other and communicate effectively. The attacks will be characterized by being over very quickly and coming primarily through the center. Speed of thought and action is critical.

This picture shows how important it is for children to learn how to play in all of the small forms of soccer. 2v2 for the two top players, 3v3 when the center midfielder becomes involved, 4v4 for the back four and 5v5 when you include the goalkeeper. This also demonstrates how when one players task is changed, the number 7 in this case, it can effect the rest of the team. Go to KNVB’s counter attacking game for a practice.