How Small-Sided and Conditioned Games Enhance Acquisition of Movement and Decision-Making Skills

Review by: William A. Harper
By Keith Davids, Duarte Araújo, Vanda Correia, and Luis Vilar

The Big Idea

The Big Idea

For this research reviewer, who is also an ex-youth soccer coach, occasionally there are uncomfortable moments arising from summarizing research papers for our PDP coaches and readers.  This is one of those moments.  You see, this paper essentially points out to modern youth football coaches the crucial differences between coaching the practice and coaching the game.

We confess to this:  Our personal coaching history is testimony to the weaknesses of traditional coaching practices.  They were something to see, these practices were.  Stations galore.  Colorful cones.  Instructions to the team hurled by the dozens.  Imaginative drills.  Drills to get better at other drills.  Passing in straight lines.  Passing in circles.  Shooting stationary balls on an empty goal.  Dribbling around stationary objects, including from time-to-time parent volunteers.  And walk-through play-strategies without even a ball.

If we ever had had the chance to compete for the best organized and delivered practices, our team would have been tough to beat.  As it was, however, we learned the hard way that coaching the practice has little to do with coaching the game—in soccer or any other invasion game.