By Nils Poker
From time to time, games that don’t have a direct relation to the format of the competitive 11v11 can also be an enriching part of training sessions. In the following article, we’ll briefly discuss games that have more than the usual two teams playing against each other.
3 teams are put into an almost triangular playing area. Each team needs to defend one of the goals and plays against the other to teams. It’s not allowed to make any agreements between two teams to collaborate. In this setup, each team basically plays two games at the same time. I.e. After the first round Team A will have a result versus Team B and a result versus Team C.
These results are checked after every round. Like in the normal game of football, each team will get 3 points for a win and one point for a draw. After every round, the teams change the goals they defend. After 3 rounds every team defended every goal and had the same playing conditions overall. At the end, there will be a table and a winning team. You can play any number of rounds divisible by three.
Quite unlike the other training games presented in this calendar, the underlying idea of this game is not extracted from certain tactical elements of the real game, but offers a new situation by itself. The players need to adapt to this and are challenged in a different way. Unfamiliar problems need to be solved on an individual and team level.
Thus, every team needs to find a strategy to deal with this situation and to execute it together. We even actively encouraged the players and gave them time to discuss and adjust their approach within the team in every break between the rounds.
But also, every individual player needs to find solutions for himself. For the decision-making it’s especially important to have a good orientation on the field: Which goal should be attacked? Can I advance towards it or do I need to cover my own goal? etc.
Thanks to the element of self-organization within the setup, the game emphasizes taking responsibility and communicating with team mates. For the coaching staff it can be interesting to observe the different roles within the groups: Who is the leader? Who follows him? Who doesn’t want to be involved in talking about the problems of the game with his team mates?
Based on the exact group dynamics that develop, this also offers a good starting point for some self-reflections of the players whether what they did was successful or not. What could they have done better? Maybe those ideas would have evolved already during the game, if they would have given more space for everybody to speak up? Because the game situation itself is quite chaotic, some conflicts will always arise in the process. To deal with those is inevitable to grow as a team. Ideally, you learn to respect others even in a highly charged environment.
The same game can be played with one additional team. In this case, the goals will be a arranged in a diamond shape.
Now, you can also think about playing with two balls at the same time to again change the situation for the players. Inevitably, more mistakes will happen and the situation will be even less predictable than it already was. This overloads the communication aspects within the group(s) even further.
Although the training game isn’t really football specific in a direct sense, thanks to aspects like these, it still offers a lot of possible starting points for developing players towards certain general objectives.