Variations Of The 4 Vs. 4 Game
Many coaches believe that the best training game is 4 vs 4. The KNVB (Royal Netherlands Football Association) started using 4 vs. 4 in the 1990s with great success. The 4 vs. 4 game offers many elements of 11 vs. 11, but is better to use in a training session because:
✘ It allows for a basic team “shape” and forces players to recognize the shape.
✘ It allows the players to play the ball deep, wide or back — just like a real game.
✘ It has all the elements of 11 vs. 11; the ball, opponents, teammates, space, pressure, rules, time and direction.
✘ It allows players to touch the ball more often and to begin to recognize situations and react.
✘ It is far more manageable for the coach.
DIAGRAM 1: 4 vs. 4 Line Soccer.
Field: 40 yards by 20 yards — use cones to mark the end line area as shown.
Scoring: A player must dribble over the end line. Coaching Points:
✘ Keep “shape” or position play.
✘ Move the ball quickly.
✘ Switch fields to isolate a teammate 1 vs. 1 with a defender.
✘ Watch defensive positioning — the defender must be between the opponent and the end line.
DIAGRAM 2: 4 vs. 4 With Small Goals.
Field: 40 yards by 20 yards with two goals on each end line. Goals are 1-yard wide marked with cones.
Scoring: Getting the ball into the opponent’s goal. Coaching Points:
✘ Create scoring chances by quickly switching play from side to side.
✘ Play the ball quickly.
✘ Wing players attack the goal.
✘ The “deep” player — closest to attacking goals — must demand the ball.
✘ Defenders must maintain the correct positioning.
✘ Score a point when playing a “through-ball pass” to a teammate as he or she runs over the end line.
✘ Make it mandatory to pass two, three or more times before trying to score.
DIAGRAM 3: 4 vs. 4 With Large Goals, Goalkeepers.
Field: 40 yards by 20 yards over the 18-yard box as shown.
Scoring: Shoot ball past keepers into regular goal. Coaching Points:
✘ Attackers move the ball quickly and find room for a shot.
✘ Shoot as quickly as possible.
✘ Beat an opponent 1 vs. 1 to create space for a shot.
✘ Defenders must mark tightly and do not give up space.
DIAGRAM 4: 4 vs. 4 On Long, Narrow Field.
Objective: Counter-attack game.
Field: 40 yards by 10 yards with three-yard by two-yard goal.
Scoring: Shoot into the goal without a keeper.
✘ Defenders pick up in the defensive half of the field.
✘ Win the ball in front of your goal; play the ball to your deepest teammate and attack the goal — the long pass has to come as quickly as possible.
✘ Maintain the shape on attack and defense.
Jay Martin has won 530 games in his 31-year coaching career at Ohio Wesleyan. He led the school to the 1998 Division III national championship and has guided the squad 19 conference titles during his tenure. Martin has been named NCAA Mideast Region Coach of the Year 13 times and the NSCAA national coach of the year in 1991 and 1998.