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Introducing Tactics & Overloads To A Small Sided Game

This small sided game is great for players to start thinking and applying about tactics and overloads to matches. It puts the emphasis on the players to create their own answers to the task set by the coach.

Set Up

Create a playing area that is 40 yards wide and 30 yards long, this will be split into two pitches that are 20 wide and 30 long each. These pitches should be next to each other horizontally rather than vertical (as shown in the diagram).

This drill is very fluid in regard to numbers needed, if you have high numbers you could use goalkeepers in the goals or make the goals smaller if no goalkeepers.

You will need two teams, ideally equal numbers on these teams.

How It Works

In order to turn this small sided game into a tactical understanding small sided game, the coach should used guided discovery as his teaching style. They will outline the task and the rules and then let the players come up with their answers.

The outlines:

  • Each pitch will have their own score that at the end will combine to make one final score, for example, on pitch 1 the red team win 1-0 and on pitch 2 the yellow team win 1-3 meaning the overall score would be 3-2 to the yellow team.
  • It will be up to the red and yellow team/players to decide how many players play on each pitch at the start, not the coach. For example, if reds wanted to start with 3 on pitch 1 and 3 on pitch 2 then that would be okay and if yellow team wanted to have 4 players on pitch 1 and 2 on pitch two then that is also fine.
  • Players on each team can change pitches without asking the coach as many times as they want. This will make the players think tactically about positioning and overloads.
  • There will be a ball on each pitch, this ball cannot be transferred over to the other pitch.
  • The coach shouldn’t update the players on the overall score, let the players communicate this.
  • Normal football rules apply in terms of handball, fouling and throw ins/corners.
  • The coach should stop the game every 5 minutes and let the teams talk between themselves for a minute about tactics, what went well and what they can improve on.
  • If the players are not changing pitches at all then some encouragement from the coach may be needed, ideally the players have total freedom on which pitch they play on when they want.

Key coaching points

Tactical Understanding

  • Understanding of overloads and underloads (3 v 2, 4 v 3)  
  • Recognising overloads and adjusting
  • Reflecting on tactical styles (what went well, what didn’t go well)


  • Team building / Teamwork
  • Social skills
  • Reflecting