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Why 4v4

"If the 4v4 game is only used to fight soccer battles at
full tilt, then it is not fulfilling it's purpose."1
Coaching Soccer

As already stated practices should be child friendly. Small pictures are clearer; space and options are more compatible with their abilities.

The elements of soccer have been identified. 2v2, 3v2, 5v2 and so on can all be soccer or soccer like. However 4v4 is the smallest manifestation of a real match. In it are all of the elements necessary for children to experience real soccer without any confusing duplication.

In a real soccer match children have the option of passing the ball forwards, square or backwards. Three children cannot do this because one of the directions will be missing. While 3v3 is a valuable tool for young children and learning technique, it is limited in its use as a tool for the positional game. With five children the extra one duplicates one of the elements. He becomes "also wide, also deep or also back." This "also" position clutters the picture.

4v4 also provides the minimum numbers needed for all of the principles of play. One player is up top for penetration. Two are needed for width and one holds back to supply depth. Three cannot do this; one of the principles will be left out. With five, confusion will result as the "also" player gets involved when they change positions, which is called mobility. In 4v4 the responsibilities are very clear. All tasks are covered and none are shared which keeps things simple.

Four v four is the optimum number for teaching in small-sided games. It has all of the necessary elements without any duplication.

As a warm-up. Most children come to a practice from school. They may have just spent 7 hours in a structured and controlled environment under adult supervision. A little time to let loose and play might be just what they want. The small scale encourages short runs and passes and serves as a dynamic warm-up.
4v4 offers an excellent bridge between where they have been and where they are.

As a diagnostic tool. For the coach 4v4 offers an excellent view into the abilities and character of the children. They cannot hide in the pack. Their strengths and weaknesses quickly become apparent and the coach has the opportunity to see them exposed. See TIPS.

Ownership. In big games players can often place the blame for their problems on teammates. There are too many options, too much confusion. In 4v4 the root cause of problems is much clearer. Responsibility is harder to deny. If the children do not see the problem as their own, why should they accept the coach's solution? Ownership and responsibility is an important step in development.

Corrective tool. When players accept the problems as their own and they are motivated to fix it, 4v4 and other small-sided games, offers them the fastest way to learn. With the correct game and coaching they stand the best chance of improving the shortcomings in TIC.

Small-sided games allow the players more touches on the ball. It also puts the player in a greater percentage of coaching moments. That means, not only does he have to deal physically with the ball more often but he's also involved more mentally. His concentration must be greater because the action will be quicker; there is nowhere to hide. This is an important element in developing the playing mentality.

Click here for a series of YouTube videos on 4v4.

Homework & active rest
Coaching 4v4