Small Sided Games

All the rage in Australia football right now is about small sided games (SSGs), particularly in relation to junior development. Football Federation Australia (FFA) provides only a basic document that indicates little more than the benefits of playing SSGs rather than full pitch games at junior level and the dimension of the field that should be used:

There is no information about the different formats which SSGs can take and the particular benefits of those formats. Paul Cooper has a great handbook online about SSGs and suggestions about the different formats which can be adopted:

Here is a great example. All credit goes to Paul Cooper although I have expanded on his work:


  • Focus: Quick, short passing and movement off the ball
  • Age Group – U12s to adults
  • Pitch size – 40m x 20m
  • Number of teams – 2
  • Team sizes 4 players (optional keeper with mini goals if there is no keeper)
  • Goals – 5 a side or mini soccer goals
  • I play this game as a 4 v 4 with optional keepers. I also have four additional players who are neutral and play with the team in possession. The neutral players have one touch only (or two depending on ability) and play with the team that have possession.
  • I suggest having the neutrals players in a diamond formation. This is great because you always have one neutral player that you can pass back to if pressured, something which juniors players tend not to do as they are so focused on going forward. There are also neutral players on the wings which will encourage and require players to spread out in order to use those neutral players. This prevents the players from becoming clumped together as can happen in junior football. Finally, the “attacking” neutral player at the head of the diamond is great for playing one-twos and wall passes to get by the opposition.
  • Having the neutral players encourages plenty of give and goes. The players should also be encouraged to play at a fast tempo.
  • Change the four neutral players (one team) with one of the teams on the pitch every few minutes.

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