Practice design: four-goal games

All Ages

Unsure where to start when designing practices? In a series of articles, we examine five games that can help you engage and develop your players during training. Here, in the final part of the series, we look at four-goal games.

This type of practice does what it says on the tin: in four-goal games, players take part in a game that uses four goals. Everyone loves scoring, and with more targets available, the chances of hitting the back of the net increase – which is great news for your players. While this design is less ‘real’, it still provides valuable learning opportunities for players. To make best use of a four-goal game, ensure you’re clear on the aim of your session and how you’ll help players to achieve it.

For example, imagine you want to encourage your team to open their body when receiving the ball. This skill helps players see more of the pitch and gives them the opportunity to switch play or make a pass that penetrates the opposition.

To put this into practice, create an area for a small-sided game, such as a 5v5, and split your pitch in half. Place two goals at each end, one on either side of the vertical line down the middle of your area. This now provides the players with two halves, plus two goals to attack and two to defend.

Once you’re set-up, challenge your players to keep both halves of the pitch in their eyeline when they receive the ball. In trying to do this, they’ll naturally open their body out.

To build on this, if a team scores after switching the ball into the other half, reward them with two goals rather than one. This acts as an incentive to encourage players to scan the pitch to see where the space is.

This game will challenge your players’ decision-making and communication skills. They must collaborate with their teammates to find space, pick the right pass and defend their goals – all while working on the main focus of the session.

Top tips for designing four-goal games:

  • Let your players understand the why.
  • Keep it fun and challenging.
  • Understand it will take some relevance away from the 'real' game but can still be a good learning experience for your players.
  • Know your rationale behind adding more goals - think about The FA Four Corner Model.

Watch the video below to see an example of a four-goal game that Peter Augustine, FA coach development officer, uses in his session.

Four-goal game

Be sure to adapt the practice by applying the ‘STEP’ framework to increase or decrease the challenge for your players. This can also be used to help exaggerate, replicate or modify the games to ensure certain decisions or skills are amplified to help their development.

If you want to discover more ideas for your sessions, check out our article on target games.

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