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Cal South E-News | May 2011 COACHING EDUCATION

May 21, 2011

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Center Goal Game

by Paul Payne
NSCAA Regional Technical Director

Craig Brown, the former Scottish National Team Manager, used this several years ago at a NSCAA course and I have found it to be useful for all ages of players. Players are faced with several tactical dilemmas on both sides of the ball as well as challenged physically and technically to produce.

1. 2 teams of 4-5 players playing in a 50 x 35 area (this can be adjusted according to the ages and abilities of players) with two corner flags in the center forming a 10 yd. goal with 2 neutral zones at each end.

2. One team attacks with 5 players against 4 with the extra defender assuming the position of goalkeeper (the coach decides if hands are allowed; if not, it will challenge the field players). The attacking team looks to score through the center goal flags, and if successful, play to the opposite neutral zone, reorganize and then turn and attack in the other direction.

3. If the defenders win the ball, they play back to their goalkeeper who then carries the ball back to the opposite end and joins with the others to attack 5v4.

This small-sided training exercise is great to teach several points to players. A few are listed below, but obviously as the game is played, the coach needs to be able to recognize the "coachable moment."

• Attacking with numbers up, look at team shape, spacing of players.
• Defending numbers down, with the idea of pressure on the ball being key to the other defenders' actions.
• Communication on both sides of the ball.
• Recognizing moment of transition from attacking to defending and vice-versa.

What is nice about this activity is that it can be played with kids of all ages and without the need for full-sized goals. Coaches can also add numbers and other restrictions to challenge the players even more.

Editor's Note: from the April 28, 2004 issue of NSCAA's The Technical Area by Paul Payne