Decision Making in Small Side Games

Playing Line Football was one of the first Small Sided Games (SSGs) I was ever shown. To score the players have to run the ball over the opponent’s End Line.

Basic Line Footbal

I like it and still use it regularly but I thought I would share a few tweaks I have used from time to time with the basic game to encourage more decision making and more running with the ball.

The Tagging Rule

Often players will try to run over the End Line almost like scoring a try in the corner in rugby. They may be running into a dead end but if they just make it over then it is a goal. I didn’t really want the players to get success by running with the ball like this so I introduced a rule that a goal didn’t count if a defender could touch or ‘Tag’ you within 2m of the End Line. This encourages the players to scan for options, position themselves better and make more decisions about how much space they are in or their team mates are in as the defenders don’t have to win the ball just get close enough to touch you to stop a goal.

End Zones

Regularly players will score goals by simply standing away from the other players near the End Line and then taking 1st Touch over. As my tweaks are trying to encourage more running with the ball I don’t want players to score when there could be no running with the ball involved in the move at all. So I have introduced End Zones (any size you want) at each end of the pitch. Now to score you have to run the ball both into the End Zone and over the End line.

Line Football

This had the added benefit of introducing an element of offside into the game if you say no one is allowed in the End Zone before the ball. I got the idea from John Allpress in a brilliant video from the Dorset FA which is well worth looking up on YouTube.

Using the same set up I have added a condition were one player must run the ball into End Zone and another over the End Line. This encourages more players running with the ball and the runner  to create space for their team mates.

One of the problems with Line Football is that although players enjoy it but after a while they really want to shoot at a goal. The above set up with End Zones can be used to keep the theme going after you introduce goals.

Line Football with GKS

Now before a goal can be scored the players have to run the ball into the End Zone. You can use a similar progression to the previous set up that the player who runs the ball into the End Zone cannot be the goal scorer. Although when I used that progression recently I felt it encouraged the players to simply run into the corner and cross the ball rather than make a decision.

It is such a widely used SSG that I am sure there have been lots of tweaks used by Coaches and would love to hear about them so we can all benefit.

Thanks to all the Coaches who contact me and retweet my blog it is really appreciated.

Till next time


3 thoughts on “Decision Making in Small Side Games

  1. Pingback: The PE Playbook – April 15 Edition | drowningintheshallow

  2. Something I’ve been using with the later versions to get the players to think about their position, body position, letting the ball run across them and the final pass is:
    You can’t be in the end zone before the ball. One touch to score in the end zone.
    Let me know what you think.


    • I think I mentioned in blog from time to time I say ball has to enter end zone first. I got that idea from John Allpress.
      Mainly I have used it for positioning and giving younger players an introduction into offside.


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