Small-sided game to improve information processing and decision-making

Structure: The shape of the small-sided game is a circle. The reason is fairly simple. By taking a circle-shaped playing field, one takes away one reference point for the players – the sideline. Consequently, they have to focus more on the other reference points instead and learn how to position according to those. Within the field, three mini-goals are placed which are all marked by a different colour.

Rules: The initial game is 4vs4+1 with the aim of keeping the ball. It is the coaches task to indicate a colour either by shouting it, using a code or using coloured cones. For instance, we often use calculation tasks where a certain result indicates the colour. Furthermore, by naming an object or a football club, the players first have to process this information before arriving at the correct solution. The team that wins the ball must then counter-attack on this mini-goal and is awarded two points. If they counter-attack on one of the other mini-goals, one point is awarded. 10 passes in a row for the team in possession of the ball add up to one point as well.

Variation: In a further step the coach can also hold up a coloured cone as a signal instead of calling out the colour. As a result, the players have to constantly look around and wait for possible new information.

Instead of using cones, three neutral outfield players can be used. All wear different coloured shirts. Once the team in possession passes the ball to the neutral player with the yellow shirt, the team in possession is allowed to attack this goal.

Coaching points: Constant scanning of the environment, information gathering and processing. Quick decision making. Correct structure in possession of the ball. Staying connected to reach every player and mini-goal on the pitch is crucial. Besides, a good structure in possession allows for a quick recovery of the ball after it is lost.

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