Ready to freshen up your formats? Give these techniques a try.
1. Find out what your players need
And pick a format that meets those challenges. For instance, smaller formats like 3v3 and 5v5 are great for maximising individual actions, exploring the ball and developing control. This is especially critical in the skill-hungry years between five and 12.
2. Work on two-player combinations
3v3 and 5v5 are particularly good for developing the key two-player combinations (like 1-2s and pass and follow) that are important in larger-sided games. At the same time, they still give individual players plenty of actions and repetition. Also, why not give futsal a try? It’s a brilliant format for working on these skills, too. Plus, the change of surface and ball will create an extra challenge.
3. Play simultaneous games
Got a large squad? Instead of organising one big match and subbing players on, try running multiple small-sided games. This gets everyone involved straight away. To develop skills and a love of the game, everyone needs the chance to get in on the action.
4. Vary the area size
Regardless of your format, changing the pitch size can dramatically impact player experience. Smaller areas make for a tight, combative game with quick decision-making and a need to hide, shield and protect the ball. Larger areas, on the other hand, give more time for decisions. They also create opportunities for full-pace sprinting, longer passes and ball striking.
There’s no right or wrong when it comes to picking a format. Along with switching up other factors – like area size or surface – it’s simply part of offering the volume and variety that’s necessary to develop skilful players.