During the winter season my older teams continue to practice outdoor one day per week. As I've mentioned before, we're fortunate to have one of the best turf field complexes in the nation with 12 lighted fields. So with the only weather that will stop us from practicing is ice or snow.
Since many of our training sessions will be in pretty cold conditions, I tend to play a lot more small sided game tournaments during the winter. The players enjoy this practice format and it keeps them moving so the cold is less of an issue.
We have three different books that I look to for new ideas when it comes to small-sided games. One of them is 'Coaching Soccer Champions'. The author, Terry Michler, is the winningest high school coach in the country. He's been the Head Coach at Christian Brothers College in St. Louis for more than 40 years with more than 800 wins.
Michler's coaching has been heavily influenced by the Dutch methods and philosophies. As a result, his teams play a lot of 4 v 4 and many of these games are detailed in his book, Coaching Soccer Champions.
Here are a few examples. Some you may be familiar with and others may give you ideas that you can use with your teams.
4 small line goals without keepers
The goals are positioned on the end lines spread to the width of the field.This encourages play from flank to flank and takes the play out of the middle pf the field. The 4 goal setup encourages directional changes. Goals may be scored from direct passes or from a dribble. The coach may determine the exact method of scoring -- a direct pass, a give and go, 1 vs 1 dribble, switch fields to score.
Teams must defend the entire width of the field. A goal is scored when the ball crosses the end line and is under control -- a dribble or a pass received. The ball must cross the line and be stopped to count.
Place cones along the end line -- spacing them apart . a goal is scored by knocking a cone down with a pass. Once the cone is down, it stays down. A great game for passing accuracy.
Long, narrow field ( 40 x 15 yds )
The game is played to the length of the field, so the shape will start with a deep forward. The first look should be deep and then build from there.
There is no width to speak of, so the shape will be determined by the length. Link up quickly with the deep set forward and go to goal. In the transition, it is very important for the deepest front player to break out and establish the shape.
Combination game – 1 keeper and an end zone goal area
One team will attack the full size goal with a keeper. The other team will play to the end zone. To score in the end zone, the ball must be played or received under control. No control of the ball, no goal !
The team attacking the end zone plays through the entire width of the field, while the other team then must defend the same area.
Switch direction of play so that both teams attack and defend both goals.
2 small goals and 2 line goals
Play directly into the small goals and play controlled through the line goals.
The ball must be controlled as it passes the line goal -- received by a teammate or controlled by the dribbler.
There are many, many ways to organize 4 v 4 game depending on what you want to emphasize. Please share your favorite formats in the comments below.
Have a great day!