Conditioned small-sided games (SSG) can be used to teach team shape. I previously posted a SSG for teaching width in attack and defense (I will include it again below the following SSG). Before you use that SSG with my team, I recommend that you use the following game to teach team depth (The two games form the basis for teaching your team how to zonal defend as a team). The game is played with a half line and a goal cannot be scored unless every player from your team (except the goalkeeper) is in the attacking half. If you can score a goal and your opponent does not have every player in their defending half, then the goal counts for 2 points. Therefore teams are forced to join the attack and transition to getting every player behind the ball in defense (every player must defend-which is crucial in the modern game). I also like to put flags or cones outside the grid to form a line for the goalkeeper to be over in order to score. This forces the goalkeeper to stay connected as well.

Teaching Team Shape Width
One of the best ways to teach team shape is in the classroom. There is no replacing the bird’s eye view that can be shown on a chalkboard to make the individual players’ movements make sense to them. If a player sees how the team’s collective movement can make the opponent’s play predictable, they are more inclined to understand how their movement and timing is vital. The below small-sided game is played with one restriction. The field is divided into three zones vertically (you will see the cone lines that are not quite the width of the penalty box). While you can attack in all three zones, you can only defend in two zones. If a team is caught defending in all three zones, then their opponents are awarded a goal (all of the players from one of the outside zones must reenter the center zone in order for their team to enter the opposite zone). Other than that it is played as a normal game to goal. It is important to guide the game a bit and show the attacking team how to shape out into all three zones and recognize when to switch the ball. This game will teach both attacking and defending width. The video is best viewed in full screen mode.

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One response to “Teaching Team Shape”

  1. Aron says:

    Great exercise for both attacking and defending depending on what you want to focus on

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