The Basic Method, 4v4
Players must regularly train using various small sided games, with the basis of all games being 4v4. Why 4v4? 4v4 is the smallest form of football that relates directly to the 11v11 game. 4v4 presents all the important aspects of the football match and keeps all players actively involved. The 4v4 game allows for the use of width, depth, passes in all directions, three lines (defense, midfield, attack), it allows the ball to be played forwards, backwards, it allows for combination plays (overlap runs, give and go’s, crossovers), it allows the square pass, it will create isolation for the 1v1. The 4v4 game forces all players to be involved and will guarantee plenty of repetition and decision making. Defensively players will not be able to “hide”, it will allow a team to press immediately and allow the players to understand the basic defensive principles (pressure, depth, cover, balance, delay) and will repeatedly allow teams to deal with transition (the moment in which a team switches from attack to defense or vice versa).
Fútbol Playa/Beach Soccer by Miguel A. Vera León - http://www.photographyblogger.net/18-sweet-soccer-pictures/
Modifying the basic method to achieve our objective
With the root being 4v4, we can branch off and modify the small sided game. Depending on what we are teaching the small sided game can be tailored to accommodate the group, we can offset the balance of the teams (4v2, 4v3, 4v1, 5v2, etc), we can minimize or expand the space that we use (minimizing space will increase pressure, expanding will give players more time), we can add conditions (1 touch, 2 touch, etc), we can modify the rules (4 goal game, play through a zone, must make an overlap run before scoring, etc).
During the 4v4 or modified version of the small sided game, the coach must ask him/herself the following:
What is the objective? Is it being achieved? If the answer is Yes > How can I make it more difficult? If the answer is No > How can I alter the game to help my players achieve the goal?
Is the game flowing? If the answer is Yes > How can I increase pressure? If the answer is No > How can I alter the game to ease the pressure and allow a flow to the game?
Players should understand the game and the objective, it should be made clear to them what they are trying to achieve. With the base of 4v4 and its alterations the players will not only learn to play the game and improve in their technique and decision making, but they will also have fun. This after all, is why we play the game.