Ditch the running Part 2! How to structure small sided games…

Part 2 of a very popular series on implementing small sided games (SSG) as a form of fitness training…

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After an immediately overwhelming response to the most recent post on ditching the running and using small sided games, I decided to produce a follow up post providing examples of how to incorporate these into your sessions.

In the previous post, I discussed how utilizing small sided games (SSG) rather than traditional running based conditioning, can help build buy in and enthusiasm from youth team sport players. It’s important to pick your battles as a coach, so if you can get the conditioning work done more efficiently and with player enthusiasm – you’d be silly not to! In this post, I will provide some examples of how to organize and progress SSG in your preseason. The key thing to monitor is how much time is spend at low, medium and high intensity.

Scenario: Let’s assume you have a squad of 20 players. This could be any teamsport really – soccer, rugby, hockey etc. it doesn’t really matter, but we will use soccer for this purpose due to their large squad numbers. If you have a teamsport with a smaller squad, this actually makes your job a little easier! Let’s also suggest that you have a 6 week pre-season before your first fixture. Your sessions last 1.5 hours and will incorporate the following components:

“RAMP” Warm up 15 minutes
Technical Skill Practice 30 minutes
Small Sided Games 35 minutes
Cool Down 10 minutes
Total 90 minutes

We have already discussed in a previous post how to construct a good “RAMP” style warm up. After this component you may decide to spend 30 minutes on developing the necessary skills you have selected in your sport. This could be passing, receiving, tackling, shooting etc. It really depends on your particular sport and what you have identified your athletes require working on. Let’s suggest this particular session focused on passing.

You then utilize 35 minutes for small sided games to develop both fitness and technical skill. As the previous component focused on passing as a skills, we will follow this up with a condition in the small sided game, such as a minimum number of passes before a shot is allowed. There are a number of other conditions you could choose, here are some examples given by Kelly Timms from the “Football Coach 2 Share” Facebook page, really you are only limited by your imagination:

image

Week 1:

SSG Pitch size Bout Recovery Condition Intensity
4 vs 4

(5 team round robin)

25 x 30m 4 x 4 minutes matches

(16 minutes)

2 mins between matches,

1 x 4 min when on bye

6 passes before a shot Medium to high
10 v 10

(1 match)

Full size 1 x 7 minute match

(7 minutes)

10 passes before a shot Low to medium

In this example, the players are completing 4 matches of 4 minutes each, with 2 minutes recovery between in a round robin format. One team will have a bye each round of matches which you could use for further technical practice or to cheer on team-mates. They then move on to a 10 v 10 match on a full size pitch for 7 minutes. They are completing a total of 16 minutes at a medium to high intensity and 7 minutes at a low to medium intensity.

Week 2:

SSG Pitch size Bout Recovery Condition Intensity
5 v 5

(4 matches)

25 x 30m 4 x 5 minute

Matches

(20 minutes)

2 minutes between matches, no byes 6 passes before a shot Medium
10 v 10

(1 match)

Full size 1 x 7 minute match

(7 minutes)

10 passes before a shot Low to medium

In this example, the players are completing 4 matches of 5 minutes each, with 2 minutes recovery between in a round robin format. The bye has been eliminated. They then move on to a 10 v 10 match on a full size pitch for 7 minutes. They are completing a total of 20 minutes at a medium to high intensity and 7 minutes at a low to medium intensity.

Week 3

SSG Pitch size Bout Recovery Condition Intensity
4 v 4

(5 team round robin)

25 x 30m 4 x 5 minute

Matches

(20 minutes)

2 minutes between matches,

1 x 5 min when on bye

8 passes before a shot Medium to high
10 v 10

(1 matches)

Full size 1 x 7 minutes

(7 minutes)

8 passes before a shot Low to medium

In Week 3, we’ve reverted to a 4v4 round robin as previously, however this is then followed up by 2 matches of  5v5 for 3 minute each. This gives a total of 20 minutes working at a medium to high intensity, followed by 7 minutes of low to medium intensity. Again, we are continuing to work on passing as a condition.

Week 4:

SSG Pitch size Bout Recovery Condition Intensity
2 v 2 +1

(4 matches,  “possession floating player)

15 x 20m 4 x 5 minute matches

(20 minutes)

2 min between matches 4 passes before a shot, High
5 v 5

(2 matches)

25 x 30m 2 x 3 minute matches

(6 minutes)

1 min between matches 8 passes before a shot Medium to high

In Week 4, we’ve introduced an overload in 2v2 matches by adding a 5th player, who only plays for the team in possession. This creates a defensive disadvantage and will increase the physical demand when defending. This gives 20 minutes of high intensity work, followed by 6 minutes of medium to high intensity work.

Week 5:

SSG Pitch size Bout Recovery Condition Intensity
2 v 2 +1

(4 matches, “possession floating player)

15 x 20m 4 x 4 minute matches

(16 minutes)

90 sec between matches 5 passes before a shot, High
4 vs 4

(5 team round robin)

25 x 30m 4 x 3 minutes matches

(12 minutes)

1 mins between matches,

1 x 3 min when on bye

8 passes before a shot Medium to high

Week 5 sees a change of match duration and uses both overload in 2v2 matches, followed by a round robin of 5 teams. Reducing the recovery time to 90 seconds between matches also creates a large physical demand on the body. This creates 16 minutes of high intensity work, followed by 12 minutes of medium to high intensity work.

Week 6:

SSG Pitch size Bout Recovery Condition Intensity
2 v 2 +1

(4 matches, “possession floating player)

15 x 20m 4 x 5 minute matches

(20 minutes)

90 sec between matches 5 passes before a shot, High
10 v 10

(1 matches)

Full Size 1 x 9 minutes

(9 minutes)

10 passes before a shot Low to medium

In this final week, we use formats that have all been used before, however the recovery time is reduced to 90 seconds between matches but duration is increased to 5 minutes. This creates 20 minutes of high intensity work with limited recovery before entering into 9 minutes of matchplay on a fullsize pitch.

This is an example of how you could gradually increase the time spent at medium to high intensity work to improve the fitness of your players. By including work on a full size pitch, we maintain the ability for long accelerations, which will complement this high intensity work in the smaller games which will induce improvements in aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Another way to add in a small amount of running if you wish, is:

  • Place a condition whereby a player must sprint to their own goal when they score. Or their own tryline when making a tackle in rugby.
  • Use the bye match to work on some shuttle runs, long aerobic runs, or 2v2s instead of technical skills

I’ve used this with some success in the past. Of course you could manipulate these to suit your needs or to change conditions to bias certain techniques you wish to stress.

I hope you’ve found this post helpful! Please like, comment and share as you see fit! For more great content like out Facebook page.

 

 

Author: Athletic Evolution

Providing best practice in the athletic development and coaching of youth athletes.

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