You are on page 1of 13

Progressive Soccer Training in Grids by Dan Minutillo and Rich Rafloski

The solution to wasting training time has arrived! No longer will you have to sap
precious minutes setting up new drills because Progressive Soccer Training in Grids shows you
exactly how to run an entire training session in a single gird. What’s more, this book provides a
complete set of progressive small-sided games for improving passing, shooting, transition play
and much more in a single session from start to finish

The grid system is a coaching aid I developed to improve what I consider to be the number 1
problem in youth soccer, player spacing (shape) on the field. How many times have you watched
a youth soccer game where players are huddled round a ball and fight for a kick? A soccer game
quickly descends into a frantic display of kick and run. I have created a system that allows
anyone, no matter what your level of soccer knowledge, to coach your team how to spread out
when playing soccer.

This system is called the Grid System and it increases the efficiency and awareness of how to
coach shape within formations. It is a system that breaks down the fundamentals and increases
the coach’s and players’ understanding of how to keep the desired shape during play. Simply put,
according to the formation (1-3-3-1 or 1-2-3-2 etc.) each player is assigned a grid to play in.
Grids are connecting but players have limits as to which grids they are allowed in during any
specific play. The grids relate to field positions and stop players bunching whilst allowing them
to play in a more structured setting. Using this system, we go through step by step what to do to
achieve success, beginning with simple movement patterns through to more advanced tactical

I think it is important to relate everything you do during a training session to a scrimmage,

therefore keeping it GAME REALISTIC. Thus terms used in this guide will relate to player and
body positions according to the type of play being focused on.

Too much time is wasted by a coach or staff setting up grid after grid before and during a
training session to accommodate different exercises to be accomplished by a soccer team during
the session. Morphing during soccer training allows a coach to set up just one grid with very
minor modifications for an entire session, changing only the exercises during the session but not
usually changing the grid size or shape. This is done by maintaining the same grid for an entire
training session (except for the usual scrimmage at the end of the session) re-configuring players,
adding target players, adding neutral players, adding wide players or moving goals in and about
the grid, allowing variations in exercises by this reconfiguration based on a singular training
theme during the session.

To add value to this book, soccer training themes are discussed, one theme per chapter, with the
elements of that training theme broken down in detail and analyzed to help the novice or expert
coach recognize those elements during the training session. Each technical and tactical training
theme is explained in detail. Four small sided games per theme per chapter are provided and
described in detail, including
Small-sided games are a core part of training. Whether you coach youth teams or elite squads,
players at every level gain a host of benefits from practicing in limited space. This includes
improving their space awareness, reactions, decision making and using grids also enables you to
focus on perfecting specific moves in each session. The downside is that setting up a sequence of
drills can be a big drag on your time. It’s very time consuming having to keep rearranging the
configuration every time you want to change the exercise. What’s more, it causes players to
stand around getting bored and takes them out of the focused mindset you want to develop.

This is why ‘morphing’ is rapidly growing in popularity as a way of managing grid training.
This approach focuses on a specific theme throughout the session, with all drills performed in the
same grid. Progressive Soccer Training in Grids shows you how to use ‘morphing’ in your
coaching arsenal by showing you how to run an entire training session with exercises described
for you in detail with diagrams and coaching points which morph into each other to save
valuable training time. .

Along with minimizing the time it takes to shift from exercise to the next, all of the drills in this
unique book are carefully chosen to offer a progressive sequence. This means that all you need to
do is decide what skill to focus on, whether it’s third man runs, combination play or check runs,
and then simply follow the series of exercises outlined in each chapter – using one grid during
the entire system.

Progressive Soccer Training in Grids features is a complete guide to using the new concept of
‘morphing’ to minimize the time wasted setting up exercises and maximize the time spent
making improvements to your team.

Each chapter focuses on a singular training theme, with each theme broken down and explained
in detail so that even novice coach can recognize the key elements to focus on in training. Along
with an overview, each chapter covers the roles and responsibilities of players, what you can
expect to gain from the session and coaching points. Each chapter also includes four small sided
games with explanations on grid setup, player configuration, the roles and restrictions per
exercise and detailed diagrams which explain exactly where players need to be at the start of the
drill and how to perform each exercise.

The themes covered in Progressive Soccer Training in Grids include shielding, wide play,
passing, receiving and timing of runs, shooting and much more. With grid training an integral
part of developing players, the drills in this book enable you to run highly focused training
sessions with high intensity, stamina and focus, so that players get used to playing for long
stretches without constant pauses in-between.

Using ‘morphing’ to maximize grid training time and minimize the setup between exercises is a
new concept that’s rapidly gaining fans and plaudits. The benefits are obvious – you can
maintain the intensity of training for longer without long breaks between exercises. But the trick
to using morphing effectively is knowing how to implement drills which smoothly transition
from one to another.
Benefits of small sided games for young players
There are a lot of great things about living in New England. We've got iconic history, delicious
seafood, and successful sports teams. But one of the most notable characteristics of living in
New England is the changing seasons. Most people enjoy New England's snowy winters, but to
soccer players, it marks the end of the fall season and playing outdoors.

Some critics argue that the lack of year-long sunshine means New England soccer players are at
a disadvantage: the loss of valuable outdoor playing time results in impeded development
compared to players living in warmer climates. However, this could not be further from the truth.

Training indoors during the winter provides a wealth of benefits that can supplement any young
player's development. Indoor soccer is faster, smaller, and more intensive than the outdoor game.
Players develop key skills including: positioning, off-the-ball movement, and individual
attacking & defending.

Indoor fields are smaller than outdoor fields, and the number of players on pitch is significantly
less. Due to smaller field size and a faster surface, the ball moves end-to-end much faster, and
requires quick decision-making. A lapse of concentration in an outdoor match can be
problematic, but there is still an opportunity for teammates to fill in the gaps and correct your
mistake. In contrast, losing focus for a split second in an indoor game can result in your 'keeper
picking the ball out of the back of your net.

Indoor soccer is a game of individual plays. One-on-one attacking and defending occurs during virtually
every possession. Indoor play refines a player's ability to successfully engage in 1v1 battles several times
throughout a game. At the end of a professional match, a striker may have completed five "take-ons" in
the course of 90 minutes. In an indoor match, five take-ons can occur in the first five minutes. Indoor
soccer players are granted the opportunity to develop creativity in attacking 1v1 and discipline in
defending 1v1, which greatly impacts their outdoor game.

The most rewarding aspect of playing indoor soccer is when that experience does, in fact,
translate to the outdoor game. Next time you're watching your favorite team on TV, pick a
random time in the game and hit the "pause" button on your remote. Whenever you do this, you
can draw an imaginary box around the ball-carrier and see the closest 5v5 area. The entire
surface of an outdoor playing field can be broken up into mini fields at all times. The training
and experience you gain from playing indoor soccer is readily apparent during outdoor when you
find yourself in a 1v1 situation on the flank, defending a 3-player attack, or counter-attacking
after making a tackle in the midfield.

The fast, small-sided, and intensive aspects of indoor play can be seen all over the field during an
outdoor match. Players that have trained for these aspects of the game all winter are better suited
to succeed when spring comes around. So don't worry too much about missing out on outdoor
playing-time – we become more well-rounded players when we get a break from the warm
The results of several studies clearly demonstrate that the small-sided games (SSG) principle is based on sound
educational and developmental evidence. Children learn in a progressive and sequential way using a building
block approach through a combination of technical and tactical skill development as well as physiological and
psychological development of the young players involved.

In terms of the key differences of the small-sided game over the eleven-aside game and the benefits of the 5v5
and 6v6 formats, please read the following very closely.

 Far more repeated touches of the ball by all players

 More touches throughout all areas of the pitch
 More passes attempted are in a forward direction in the Small Sided Game. In the 11-a-side game, the
majority of passes are in a backward direction
 More attacking 1 v1s, final third and penalty area entries
 More shots on goal and technical skills by goalkeepers
 Repeated decision making experience
 The ball is in play far more in the in the Small Sided Game
 Repeated experience of basic tactical situations
 More active participation is directly related to fun and enjoyment
 More experience in all phases of the game. There is no hiding or dominant player hogging the ball. Every
child has to participate in all facets of the game, attack and defend. The emphasis is on PLAYER
 More active participation leads to an optimal fitness load
 Better success rate leads to better quality of play and player retention
 Better success rate leads to better self esteem and self confidence
 More individual responsibility – every player must attack and defend
 The game is easier to understand

As it seems evident strength and power plays a crucial role in football, however, there seems
to be many questions with regard to strength and power testing in football - what to test and how
to test, the debate about strength and power testing with regard to football specific strength and
power testing and finally the targeted areas for testing in football specific strength/power

In football dynamic balance is very important. Players need this because they are moving
and adjusting body position constantly when looking for scoring opportunities in the
penalty box or trying to mark an opponent closely.

Does speed mean everything in Football?

Dušan Mihajlović, - The social network for aspiring football coaches & players

Answered Sep 14 2016 · Author has 56 answers and 47.3k answer views

Speed is a very important attribute for a football player, but it doesn’t mean everything in
Football (Soccer).

Speed is required when you have beat an opponent to a 50/50 ball, to outrun a defender with a
ball or running towards a pass, to run to a great free position on the pitch, to support your attack
by drawing away defenders from your teammate who is the real target of a pass, to dribble round
an opponent or to chase back and close down an attack.

Unfortunately, soccer is not a sport like gymnastics or swimming that naturally develops flexibility. As a
result, staying flexible is even more important for children playing soccer. The importance of stretching
during warm-up before a practice or game, and during the cool-down after practice cannot be

Why is it required in soccer?

Agility is required to either match or outclass your opponents individually.

One has to adjust his movement in less than split second to take advantage of the space. For an
example, if arriving into the box is important, it is also important to adjust your balance so as to
have a contact to the ball at its sweetest spot.

Man marking: Marking is one of the toughest tasks. Players constantly move to lose their
markets. Offensive players want to lose their markers and they need agility to change direction at
the rate of speed of thought. At the same time defensive players need agility to keep up with
movement of the player they are tasked to mark.

The “Technical Circle” is a very efficient drill. The kids have to perform several different
technical tasks, which will benefit not only their technical skills but also improve their feel for
the ball. Plus it’s great fun!

Two players are positioned at cones set up all around the circle. A cone is positioned in the
center of the circle, one for each group of two. The players now have to perform several tasks.

1. The first player takes the ball in his hands, slowly runs towards the cone
while he tries to kick the ball up with his thighs with one touch, before
catching it again with his hands.

Once on the left, once the right and so on.

He then turns around and throws the ball back to his partner who then performs the same task.

2. Now we raise the level of difficulty. Instead of his thighs, the player now has to use his feet
and kick the ball back into his hands. Instead of throwing the ball back to his partner, he volleys
3. Now the players have to juggle the ball on their way to the center. In the easiest variation the
pattern is left, right, catch. Good players can try to juggle more often. After that, they bicycle-
kick the ball back over their head to their partner. It is possible to award points here to create a
small and positive competitive situation. Three points for dropping the ball once, five points for
directly catching the ball.
4. Now two players stand left and right next to a cone. One player rolls forward, while his
partner slowly passes the ball towards the center cone. He then tries to catch the ball before it
reaches the cone. This time the ball is played back with a drop-kick.

Here are a few examples. Some you may be familiar with and others may give you ideas that you
can use with your teams.

4 small line goals without keepers

The goals are positioned on the end lines spread to the width of the field.This encourages play
from flank to flank and takes the play out of the middle pf the field. The 4 goal setup encourages
directional changes. Goals may be scored from direct passes or from a dribble. The coach may
determine the exact method of scoring — a direct pass, a give and go, 1 vs 1 dribble, switch
fields to score.
Line Soccer
Teams must defend the entire width of the field. A goal is scored when the ball crosses the end
line and is under control — a dribble or a pass received. The ball must cross the line and be
stopped to count.
Cone game
Place cones along the end line — spacing them apart . a goal is scored by knocking a cone
down with a pass. Once the cone is down, it stays down. A great game for passing accuracy.
Long, narrow field ( 40 x 15 yds )
The game is played to the length of the field, so the shape will start with a deep forward. The
first look should be deep and then build from there.

There is no width to speak of, so the shape will be determined by the length. Link up quickly
with the deep set forward and go to goal. In the transition, it is very important for the deepest
front player to break out and establish the shape.
Combination game – 1 keeper and an end zone goal area
One team will attack the full size goal with a keeper. The other team will play to the end zone.
To score in the end zone, the ball must be played or received under control. No control of the
ball, no goal !

The team attacking the end zone plays through the entire width of the field, while the other team
then must defend the same area.

Switch direction of play so that both teams attack and defend both goals.
2 small goals and 2 line goals
Play directly into the small goals and play controlled through the line goals.
The ball must be controlled as it passes the line goal — received by a teammate or controlled by
the dribbler.

There are many, many ways to organize 4 v 4 game depending on what you want to emphasize.
Please share your favorite formats in the comments below.


Phillip Ward

Michael Carnes

First published: 27 February 2013

Cited by:12




The effects of self‐set goals and public posting on athletic performance of 5 collegiate
football players was studied. All players were linebackers on a National Association of
Intercollegiate Athletics Division II football team. The dependent variables were the
percentage of correct occasions when the linebacker (a) positioned himself to cover a
specified area on the field during a pass or from the line of scrimmage during a run; (b)
moved to the correct position in response to the positioning of the offense; and (c)
tackled and stopped the progress of the ball carrier. A multiple baseline design across
behaviors showed an immediate increase in the practice performance of the players
and a corresponding increase in game performance following introduction of the
independent variable. This study extends research using public posting in sport by
demonstrating the effects of player‐determined goals and public posting of goal

Effects of Pitch Size and Skill Level on Tactical Behaviours of Association

Football Players during Small-Sided and Conditioned Games
Show all authors

Pedro Silva, Paulo Aguiar, Ricardo Duarte, ...

First Published October 1, 2014 Research Article

Article information
Download PDF
Please click here for full access options


In Association Football, the study of variability in players' movement trajectories during performance can
provide insights on tactical behaviours. This study aimed to analyse the movement variability present in:
i) the players' actions zones and ii), distances travelled over time, considered as a player's positional
spatial reference. Additionally, we investigated whether the movement variability characteristics of
players from different skill levels varied. Two groups of U-17 yrs players of different performance levels
(national and regional) performed in three small-sided games with varying pitch dimensions (small,
intermediate and large). Linear and non-linear analyses were used to capture the magnitude and structure
of their movement variability. Results showed that increases in pitch size resulted in more restricted
action zones and higher distance values from personal spatial positional references for both groups.
National-level players were more sensitive to pitch modifications and displayed more variability than
regional-level players in the small and intermediate pitches. These findings advance understanding about
individual tactical behaviours in Association Football and have implications for training design, using
pitch size manipulation.

Keywords Movement Variability, Personal Locus, Spatial Distribution Maps, Task Constraints