Practice design: line ball games

Guide 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, we look at line ball games.
In line ball games, players are simply tasked with getting the ball onto or over a line. Once they achieve this, they’re awarded a point or a goal – depending on your scoring system. To create this type of game, all you need are a few cones to mark out an area – and a ball. With little equipment required, and the fact you could use existing pitch lines to help you, set-up is very quick.

Another benefit of line ball games, which are commonly used in futsal and small group practices, is that they help players work on various skills. This includes their ability to pass and receive, create space and win the ball.

This type of game can also help develop particular units. For instance, you could task your defenders with stopping the attacking team from getting into the 18-yard box. This replicates the scenario in a game where the opposition are playing centrally near your box, and you want to stop them from finding space and playing through you.

Of course, there are tradeoffs when using this type of game. You lose a bit of realism, like not having a specific target to strike into, e.g. a goal. They can also be physically intense, so it’s wise to give players time to rest – especially if working in small numbers.

When you mix up your approach and give your players a wide diet of different practices, line ball games are a great choice. This is especially true if you’re lacking space or want to work on specific movements.

Top tips for designing line ball games:

  • Define the area of the pitch you will be working on.
  • Select which players will be involved (either position-specific or based on individual needs).
  • Have a clear focus on what you want to get from the practice, e.g. movements, receiving skills.
  • Have a clear picture of what success will be for the players and the progressions in the practice.
  • Think about timings to manage the physical load on the players. The fewer players you have involved, the more intense the practice will be, so rest periods are needed.

Watch the video below to see an example of a line ball game that Paul McGuinness, FA youth coach developer, uses in his session.

Line ball and end zone games

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 parallel games.

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