January 22, 2008
Logistics of the Small Sided Game Part III by Tom Turner
Koach Karl - hope you enjoy Part III of the Small Sided Games..
Number and duration of “games” per Play Day
Young children play with great enthusiasm and energy for short periods and then they rest or move onto something else. With this in mind, Play Days for U-6’s and U-8’s should not exceed a total of 60 minutes of active play and feature multiple short duration games against a variety of opponents. The recommendation for U-6’s is that they play no more than six 8-minute games for a total playing time of 48 minutes, and the U-8’s play no more than six 10-minute games for a total playing time of 60 minutes. Weather conditions, field conditions, and enthusiasm should help determine the exact number of games in each division per day.
If possible, players should receive two T-shirts for use at games and practices. One shirt should be light and the other dark. In reality, small-sided games do not require clear identification. However, if funds are available, shirts provide practical keepsakes.
Staffing and Coaching at Games and Practices
With 60 children in the U-6 division, up to six coaches will be required to organize the games and practices. The role of these adults is to organize the fields and teams at Play Days and conduct practice sessions.
On Play Days, the primary responsibilities of the coaches, once the games are under way, are to observe and rank the players to determine the various ability levels; to play on the field with the weaker players or weaker teams to help them make progress and experience success; to keep time and help the children rotate between games, to comfort any child in emotional or physical distress; to help settle any lingering rule disputes; and to deter parents from “coaching” their children from the sidelines.
At practices, all the coaches and players should practice together in the same large area, if possible. If this is not possible, one third or one half of the group should practice in the same general area together with an appropriate number of coaches. The coaches are responsible for organizing a steady diet of small-sided games, ranging from 1v1 to 3v3, and providing fun games that are soccer-related. These games should be heavily focused on individual dribbling activities where players have multiple opportunities to manipulate the ball. The coaches should work with 20-30 kids as a “team” and assist each other’s efforts, rather than struggling alone as isolated individuals. The 2-hour “G” level coaching clinic provides specific information on these activities and is free to OYSAN member groups.
At the U-8 level, 100 children will require between seven (~14 players) and ten (10 players) coaches to organize the practices and games. The responsibilities of these adults on Play Days are the same as the U-6 coaches.
At practices, the range of possible games is influenced by the players’ increased awareness of teammates. Games ranging from 1v1 to 5v5 provide many opportunities to dribble, pass and shoot, and different field shapes and scoring methods should be used to provide different challenges to players. While passing is becoming a more frequent feature of play for seven and eight year-olds, dribbling the ball should remain the major focus of games and other soccer related activities. The 14-hour OYSAN “E” level coaching course provides specific information on these activities.
For U-6’s, there are no referees; however, a coach should always be within range to help settle any “major” disputes. For U-8’s, the players should be allowed to call their own fouls, goals, and out of bounds. In an ideal situation, U-8 teams should also be free to decide on their own rule modifications! Decisions such as whether corners are taken or not, and whether the goalkeeper can use their hands or not, are common decisions that can be arbitrary decided on a game-by-game basis in a free play environment.
Kick-ins replace throw-ins. (U-6 and U-8)
No goal kicks. (U-6 and U-8) Play restarts when any player dribbles the ball back into the field or passes to a teammate.
No corner kicks (U-6) Play is restarted in the same manner as a goal kick.
No offside (U-6 and U-8)
All fouls are indirect (U-6 and U-8)
Check back next week for Part IV ..the conclusion of the Logistics of the Small Sided Game