Coaching Day 19: The numbers game v2

In our session last week I asked the kids what they wanted to do. I haven’t done this often before but I’m aware other coaches use this approach so thought I’d give it a go and wasn’t particularly surprised when they answered “the numbers game”, a game we’d played in the previous week and which they’d played at school.

It’s evident the kids enjoy it because it changes frequently, there’s an element of suspense to the game and it’s competitive so I was happy to agree to their request because I also think this game has real benefits for young players. Fortunately, I’d been giving this game some thought in between the two sessions and I’d already decided that I was going to modify the game if we used it again.

Having watched the session previously, I felt the game had benefits when at 1v1 and 2v2 but when it went to 3v3 or 4v4 the players became rather bunched and it had only been the inclusion of the rule “5 points if every player touches it” which had forced an element of football.

So, instead of using the normal game I made two alterations.

Alteration number 1

I set-up the pitch with two goals at each end and, using poles, ensured that the goals at opposing ends of the pitch were the same colour. That is, each end had one “blue” goal and one “red” goal.

Alteration number 2

I then picked up two cones, one red & one blue, and held them in my hands. I informed the players that there were some new rules. If I called a number out and wasn’t holding a cone in the air they could score in any goal, if I held up a blue cone then they could only score in the blue goal and if I held up a red cone they could only score in the red goal. To add an element of thought I made sure the same colour goals were diagonally opposite, rather than directly opposite each other.

I wanted this to get the players looking up whilst also focusing on the game and I think it worked. The players were having to check what cone I was holding up, if any, when going to the ball or when running with the ball. I made a change which meant I could change the colour cone I was holding during play – this avoided the players having a quick glimpse before collecting the ball and then going straight for goal. This was especially effective when they were playing 3v3 or 4v4 as it meant the players had to communicate the changes in cone colour as and when I chose to do so.

It was, I guess, a very small change to a very basic game but I think it was a change which provided the challenges I wanted the players to face and it’s a game I’ll use again.


About Simon
Grassroots Football Coach

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