As a coach or even as a player you may have thought to yourself, what exactly is a soccer scrimmage? Well, it can simply be described as unstructured plays that are mostly done for practice or recreational purposes. The format of scrimmages may or may not adhere to the normal rules of the game. In many cases scrimmage activities are structured like a friendly game between two randomly matched members of a team. This is a great activity that tends to bring out a competitive edge within teammates.
Check out the video below for an example of a scrimmage in action:
Ideally, scrimmages are slotted at the end of practice sessions. They enable players to put into practice what they have learned during the training sessions and really give their soccer gear a workout. This is also a great way of including some game time into the training sessions which often include structured drills and exercises. Many players enjoy this part of training more than anything else and it is also a great way of adding the fun factor which adds enthusiasm to the squad.
As mentioned earlier, a soccer scrimmage is normally a post training ritual but as a coach, you are free to switch up this format as you see fit. However, don’t just divide the squad into two teams and let them kick around the ball. Try and use different formations to bring the best out of your players. Here are a couple of methods you could implement.
Start by creating a smaller field of play (approximately 60 by 40 yards).
Have two goals on each end (either full size or small). Then divide the players into teams of seven players each.
Allow the players to engage in a small sided game that includes all the normal game rules.
You could go ahead and add a couple of restrictions to suit the conditions of the this training method but let the players implement what they have learned as they play.
7v7 scrimmages are suitable for players of all ages.
In order to simulate actual game conditions you could divide the players into two squads and use the entire pitch.
This type of scrimmage usually includes standard game rules. You could either opt for a full length game (90 minutes) or shorten the duration of play.
Another effective scrimmage method is to breakdown the whole squad into smaller teams and play an elimination or round-robin (all-play-all) format culminating in a final game to decide the
Small-sided scrimmages are great because they allow players to improve their reaction time which helps a great deal in decision making during actual games.
Typically these types of scrimmages are the most fun and are a more entertaining way to close out a soccer training session.
Training is not just about learning, its about implementing what you have learned. Scrimmages are great way for coaches to gauge whether the skills taught during a particular session have been understood by the players. By observing the progression of play, the coach will identify mistakes that could hinder the teams performance in games.
Small sided games are great because they are high intensity which helps players improve ball control, agility and showmanship. This will go a long way in improving player confidence over time.
Coaches often refrain from offering any technical input during scrimmages and this is deliberate. This is a period of observation and with a keen eye you can spot the strengths and shortcomings of players during these sessions. This helps coaches build up better technical approaches for future games. Players are also able to enhance their communication skills especially when the coach is not providing guidance.