Coaching Day 18: The numbers game


I wanted to continue with the theme of developing the players to give them confidence in 1v1 and 2v2 situations so tonight I used the numbers game in order to achieve this.

The session as usual started with a warm-up which usually starts with the players dribbling across the pitch, doing right-foot only, left-foot only and then combining to dribble whilst moving the ball from one foot to another. In addition to this we also work on their turning by getting them to turn with the ball on the blow of a whistle and then progress in to a fun game (we used bulldog tonight).

When the session moves on we split the players in to groups of two or three and work with anything from 6-10 players each. I had a group of 6 and then 7 players with which to play the numbers game tonight and I found it worked really well.

I’d marked out a pitch and then explained the game to the players, then session then progressed as follows:

  • Began with just 1v1, ensuring each player had an equal number of goes
  • Encouraged players to take on their opponent rather than just blast the ball at the first opportunity
  • Awarded double points (to much excitement) if a piece of skill or trick was used to beat a player
  • Increased players by calling out 2v2 or 3v3 situations
  • Threatened to deduct points if they kept moving the poles which were being used as goalposts!
  • Then offered 5 points (to much excitement) if all players touched the ball and a goal was scored when it was 3v3

Whilst the game isn’t complex it certainly works well for players at an under 8 age-group. It keeps them engaged and entertained, they get excited by the small changes to the rules (progressions) and it helps develop their dribbling & ball skills. The two increases in points (for skill & each player touching it) saw a very positive change in their approach to the game. The offer of 2 points if they used a skill or trick saw them trying to do this regularly whereas prior to this they’d been largely trying to outpace the other player.

The 3v3 games had seen players being quite selfish before the introduction of 5 points if each player touched the ball. Once I changed the rules the teams were working very hard to get each player to touch the ball before scoring, and they were doing it to good effect. I also cast my mind back to this time last year when I ran a small sided game and dictated “each player must touch the ball to score” which didn’t get a positive response – change this to “if each player touches the ball you get 5 points” and you get a much more positive reaction!

So, a simple game tonight but it worked well, the players enjoyed it and it helped develop their ability in 1v1, 2v2 & 3v3 situations.

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About Simon
Grassroots Football Coach

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