Soccer SSG Drills: 8 Small Sided Games for Soccer Practice

Small Sided Drills for Your Next Training Session

Small Sided Games (or SSG for short) are not only a great way to end your practices with a competitive edge but it also allows you to re-enforce any coaching that has gone on in the previous drills within that particular training practice.

Usually SSG’s are setup to involves anywhere between 3v3 to 5v5 scenarios. This kind of setup encourages players to;

  • Take lots of touches on the ball
  • Get familiar with playing within tight spaces
  • Focus on whatever you have coached them within the session

Example: 2v2 Defending

So, let’s take a 2v2 defending scenario as an example. This was your topic of focus for a particular training practice.

You’ve hopefully broken down the individual key coaching points they need to focus on, worked on a few specific drills that force your players to not only learn about the key points but given them enough space and time to actually put them into practice…

…and now you’ve reached the final part of training…

This is where you can setup a small sided game to specifically focus on the topic you’ve been hammering home for the past hour.

For the 2v2 example, you might decide to setup an SSG that involves or 2v2 or 4v4.

By this point in the practice, you’re playing should be getting to grips with their new-found knowledge and it is your job to sit back and observe – only interrupting to coach the very important parts they may have missed.

…In short, this is the time to let your players play.

Key Coaching Points

Soccer SSG Drills Key Coaching Points

Again, as each drill will focus on a different topic – the specific key points will change from session to session. You may even use the exact same setup as you did before but with a different focus.

So for that reason, there aren’t any general key coaching to highlight.

What Soccer Drill Software Am I Using?

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SSG Soccer Drills

Small Sided Soccer Drill #1
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Wingers vs Target Players

Wingers vs Target Men SSG

Drill Setup

  • Teams play a 4v4 in the middle
  • 2 players from each team take up a position around the outside
  • One team has 2 wingers to help them score while the other team has a target player to aim for

Drill Details

Each team is trying to keep possession of the ball and score in one of the 2 goals situated either end of the pitch.

In this particular example, whites have a target player up top to aim for which replicates using a target forward to play off.

Reds on the other hand have wingers to use.

With these two scenarios each team has to play slightly differently; making different runs, passes and of course being aware of positional differences across the pitch.

Remember to keep the intensity high and the game flowing with minimal breaks.

Variations

  • Variation #1: Create a overload by adding in an additional 1 or 2 players that play for whatever team is in possession

Small Sided Soccer Drill #2
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SSG 4-Goal

SSG 4 Goal

Drill Setup

Setup 4 small to medium sized goals with a goalkeeper on each side of the pitch. In two opposite corners place two neutral players.

Finally, in the middle of the pitch split your remaining players into a 4v4 situation.

Drill Details

The game starts with one of the keepers feeding the ball out to a team of their choice. For this example; yellows.

On receiving the ball, yellows are now aiming to score in any of the 3 other goals while the blues are trying to win the ball to score past the starting keeper.

Make sure you have enough balls in each net to keep the game running smoothly.

Neutral players become members of whatever team is in possession. to Create a 4v3 or 5 v3 overload.

Have each keeper work in a clockwise direction when feeding the ball out.

Variations

  • Variation #1: The ball must be worked out to one of the neutral players before a team is able to score
  • Variation #2: Number code each goalkeeper. Call a number out and that keeper must release the ball into play. I wouldn’t let the outfield players know the number of the keeper. This means they have to be extra vigilant and aware of where the next ball is coming from.

Small Sided Soccer Drill #3
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4v4 Waves

4v4 Waves SSGDrill Setup

  1. 3 Goalkeepers all defending a goal each that is placed along one side of the pitch
  2. 3 Teams of 3 Players; One playing in defense, one playing in attack and one taking up a ready position at the opposite end to the goals.
  3. As the Coach, take up a position to the left of right of the field of play

Drill Details

If the attacking team score they stay on as attacking team while defending team and resting team rotate.

If attacking team do not score, they become the new defending team.

Variations

  • Variation #1: You can easily change the amount of players playing at any one time;
    • 3v3
    • 4v3
    • Any overload (3v2, 4v3, 4v2 etc)

Small Sided Soccer Drill #4
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Hockey Rules 4-Goal

Hockey Rules 4 Goal

Drill Setup

To setup this drill use a normal sized pitch for 5-aside.

Instead of putting one goal either side of the field of play – place 2 goals facing away from the middle players on each end. Split your group into two teams.

Place 1 striker from each team either end of the pitch and place the rest of your players in a 3v3 scenario in the middle of the pitch.

Drill Details

The aim of this drill is to encourage your players to work the ball out to the forwards quickly to get a shot on goal.

As the coach, you’ll need to have a few balls spare with you at all times to ensure you keep the intensity high and the game flowing with minimal breaks.

Variation

  • Variation #1: Create a overload by adding in an additional 1 or 2 players that play for whatever team is in possession. This players can be placed across various positions; in the middle, on the wings or even 1 player in each end zone where the forwards are. Doing this will create a 5v3 (middle zone) or 2v1 (end zone) overload situation

Small Sided Soccer Drill #5
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Tournament SSG

Tournament SSG

Drill Details

This is a simple setup SSG that requires 2 smaller pitches big enough to accommodate a 3v3 on each side.

Drill Details

Both games start at the same time but a player from each side on opposing teams share a number.

There are 12 players so therefore the numbering will go from 1-6 (two players share the same number from opposite teams).

Variations

When the coach calls out a number;

  • Variation #1: The player from each team on either side swap pitches and join their new teams
  • Variation #2: The players take up a position on outside wing position on the pitch. This then sets up a 3v2 attacking overload on the field but the winger now has a different perspective on the game
  • Variation #3: The number called out takes up a position in goal creating a 2v2 scenario on the field of play

Small Sided Soccer Drill #6
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SSG Overload

SSG Overload

Drill Setup

This drill was originally posted as part of the Overload Practices Drills Guide you can check out here.

Essentially, what it involves is splitting your pitch into 3 zones;

  • 2 Attacking & Defending Zones: Where you’ll place 2 forwards and 2 defenders from opposing teams
  • 1 Midfield Zone: Where You’ll start with a 1v1

Drill Details

For this drill, whatever team is in possession will provide the additional player to creating an attacking overload in each area.

The player to change zones to create the overload will the non-passing player. 

Again, you can check Overload Drills Guide here

Variations

  • Variation #1: This drill can be switched on its head to create defending overloads instead of attacking overloads.

Small Sided Soccer Drill #7
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Wingers vs Target Players [Alternative]

Wingers vs Target Players Alternative

Drill Setup

This is an alternative drill setup to the Wingers vs Target Players drill we went into detail on above.

For this version, setup a normal pitch with a 4v4 scenario plus goalkeepers.

One side, place two target players for one team, and on the other side place 2 wingers in attacking positions.

Drill Details

  • The ball must be played to at least one of these players before the team is able to take a shot on goal.
  • For the other team, they will use wingers.
  • Ensure your change teams roles.

Variations

  • Variation #1: You could start with giving the wingers the full use of the pitch then progress to cornering them in attacking positions. This will change the dynamic of how the defending team will setup and mark their players.

Small Sided Soccer Drill #8
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Simple Wingers SSG

Simple Wingers SSG

Drill Setup

A really simple SSG game to end your practice with.

Setup with 2 teams of 6 with 2 players from each team taking up a wide positions already marked out for them.

Drill Details

Before each team can have a shot on goal they must work the ball out side for the wide player to cross the ball in to the attackers.

Depending on your topic focus for the session, get your players to focus on;

  • Transition from defense to attack
  • Transition from defense to attacking
  • Positional awareness
  • 1v1 / 2v2 / Overload scenarios

Variations

  • Variation #1: Start with 1 player in each wide position – Progress to 1v1 within the wide area
  • Variation #1: Finally remove the marked out area and encourage players to use the full width of the pitch without the help of any markings

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