No matter what age group you coach, what level your players or what part of the world you are coaching in, the most popular part of any training session is the 'match'. Matches can take different formats but ultimately it is the chance for the players to practice their skills and to pit themselves against their friends in a competitive, full contact environment.
Matches should be included in every training session, even if only for the reason that it is the part that the players look forward to the most. To allow you as a Coach to benefit from the match, however, we have included some suggestions which you might consider:
- To increase positional awareness it can be useful to divide the pitch into different zones using flat markers. You can then put certain 'rules' in place to keep specific players in specific zones. For example, you could perhaps have a defensive zone which the defenders and the opposition forwards cannot leave, which creates room in midfield and also helps younger players maintain their positions.
- You could add a rule that each player only has two or three touches and then they must pass or shoot. This instills a passing mindset.
- Overloading one team by giving one of the teams an extra player. This changes the dynamic, meaning that (usually) the smaller team are under more pressure and having to focus on defence while the larger team (should) have more possession of the ball.
There are other variations which you can use in the match scenario but, if you decide to put in some additional rules or challenges, it is always important to keep the game realistic. Adding zones or limiting touches, etc. does alter how the match will be played but, broadly speaking, it is still close to a standard game with two teams, each attacking a goal and trying to score. Tweaking the match element too much is a mistake so only add one variation at a time.