Just Let Them Play

I sat down to plan my U8 and U10 practices the other day and while going through my old sessions and thinking about previous games I realized that it would be a great day to just let them play. We didn't have any games the following weekend and there hadn't been a practice this season that I just let them go at it.

I regularly have the boys play various 1v1 games and we always finish with a small-sided game at the end of training but every once in a while I like to plan an entire session around playing competitive 1v1, 2v2, 3v3 and 4v4 games. This gives the players a break from the usual format and gives them a chance to use all of the skills that we've been working to improve. They love it because they look at it as one big scrimmage. It's great for me because I can stand back and see who has picked up the things we've focused on and who hasn't. If everyone is struggling with one thing or another I know that I haven't gotten the point across and I need to revisit that topic.


The 1v1 game we played is a rotational game where all of the pairs play between the same two goals at the same time. So not only do the players have to avoid the defender they are playing against but need find space away from the other players so they have room to run with the ball or shoot.

We play each game to three goals. When a game is over the winner waits for another game to finish so they can play the winner. The players that lost play one another.

The first person to win three games is the champion.


The 2v2 game we play is formatted the same. Adding a second attacker and defender adds movement, support, passing and combination play to the game making it more game related.

As before the first team to score three goals wins.

If the numbers at practice allow, we will also use this format for 3v3.


We finish with a 4v4 or 6v6 game depending on the number of players at training. I usually allow this game to played without any instruction. Just letting the players be themselves and use what they've learned is fun for them and enlightening to me.

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There are times that I'll use other small-sided games in a practice like this. One of the resources I use for different types of games is a book called, "Brazilian Training Games".



There are a wide variety games in this book. When I'm looking for something new this is my go-to resource.

Have a great day!


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