The 4v4. One of the best SSG’s used incorrectly by new coaches.
The Standard 4v4
Most coaches have heard or will hear that 4v4 is a great SSG (Small Sided Games) to use. It gives the players more touches of the ball, more chances to dribble, more shooting opportunities, more passing opportunities and much more. IMO, it should be used in every training session, as it is a key development game that improves technical ability above all else.
Stop Being Lazy
It is a common mistake that is not being corrected by new coaches. Come up with a topic for your session, carry out the unopposed practice, opposed practice and then finish with a 4v4.
What’s wrong with that I hear you ask.
The biggest problem with this is the 4v4. Most coaches allow the kids to play a standard 4v4 and neglect teaching the topic of the session. As a result of this, the problems that a coach wants to arise in the 4v4 magically do not appear. The coach ends up bringing up coaching tips that are totally irrelevant to the topic of the session.
Keep focused on your topic.
Try to steer clear of correcting issues that are irrelevant to your topic. Use those issues to come up with a topic for the next session and create situations for those issues to arise.
Adapting the 4v4
Divert away from a standard 4v4.
Change the rules to create a game where situations will arise that will be relevant to your topic. If you want to work on possession, then you could create a rule where a certain number of consecutive passes need to be completed before a shot at goal. Or you could introduce neutral players on the edges of the pitch to help keep possession.
If you want to work on shooting, then you could place cones just inside the posts. If a player hits a cone with a shot in the 4v4, it’s worth 3 goals. Or if the players score with a one-touch finish, the goal is worth 3 goals. Create incentives and competition for the players and it will increase focus on the topic of your session.
Key Lesson: Be creative as a coach! Think of ways to adapt your 4v4 so that it becomes relevant to the topic of your session.