Top 10 reasons why small sided soccer games are excellent for players

Small sided soccer games

A small sided game is a conditioned game on a smaller field with fewer players competing against each other. You may have wondered why IQ Football uses small-sided games more often than not. We’ll dive into our top ten reasons.

Small sided soccer games

The IQ Football curriculum has three main stages:

Stage 1Unopposed drills/IQ Ball Training
Stage 2Unopposed drills with:
– reduced thinking time, OR
– increased variables
Stage 3Opposed drills

This blog will look into the top ten reasons why small sided games (stage 3) are crucial to a player’s development.

  • Small sided games give players the opportunity to develop their skills, contribute to and be more involved in the game. It’s harder to ‘hide’ or ask your teammate to make the difficult pass when you might be the only person on the field at the right spot to do so. This also reduces the chances of more dominant players taking over the match.
  • Small sided games allow players to use the skills and techniques that they’ve learnt during unopposed drills in an opposed scenario. Learning a skill in an unpressured environment is one thing, but learning how to apply that skill in an opposed setting is more challenging.  Incorporating mental elements such as awareness and decision-making are vital attributes for the modern player.
  • Overall, there are more opportunities to touch the ball more often, which means that there is more opportunity to become more skilful (technical development). Various studies have shown that skills like dribbling and making passes are increased by 150% – 280% in a 4 v 4 set up (as opposed to an 8 v 8 game).
  • Playing in smaller sized pitches forces players to think quicker than on a larger field, sharpening their decision-making skills (tactical development). The ball is never far away, so it takes greater concentration on the player’s part.
  • Every player loves the feeling of scoring. There is a 500% increase in scoring in a 4 v 4 set up (as opposed to an 8 v 8 game), increasing the enjoyment of the game. When players are given the opportunity to score more, especially in the earlier years, their association to the game of football improves significantly.
  • When there are less players in a match at any given time, there is more opportunity for the coach to focus on a player’s individual needs for longer. This is a huge benefit of small sided games, as individual feedback and focus can stop bad habits from forming, correct wrong thinking patterns and applaud the right decisions made at the right time to reinforce learning.
  • The players who are less inclined to shoot for the goal are forced to step out more often. Their motivation and confidence is improved.
  • There are more 1 v 1 encounters, which are important for the development of both attackers and defenders to work on individual skills, techniques and tactics. Creativity is a by-product of 1 v 1 games.
  • When you only have a small number of team members, there is much more exposure to attacking and defending principles. Players are not pigeonholed into one position all the time. This is crucial when a player is young. If a player is identified as being talented, in a small sided game they don’t just get placed as the striker all the time. Being exposed to a variety of positions from a young age improves the chances of a player making better decisions on the pitch because of a more well-rounded understanding.
  • Practice becomes more fun as players have the opportunity to have the ball more often in smaller sided games.

IQ Football Academy utilises small sided games as they are excellent for players. They’re fun, more interactive, and more educational, allowing players to improve in many different areas.

Ball Control, Brain-boosting tips, Brain-centred Training, Children, discipline, Football, improve your performance, IQ Ball, IQ Football, Mindset, opposed drills, performance, physical fitness and health, skill development, Skills, small sided games, Soccer, Soccer Academy, technique, unopposed drills


Sean Szabo

Recognised as a leading brain-centred football coach in Gauteng, Sean Szabo is an English FA qualified coach who has worked internationally assisting player’s motor and technical football skills, as well as their cognitive development on and off the field. IQ Football was founded in 2015 by Sean as an amalgamation of his passion for football coaching, mentoring, and brain-centred research.

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