Maximizing the Benefits of Practice Scrimmages
Mar 11, 2019
Most coaches typically finish their practice with a scrimmage without giving it much thought. Many coaches regard the scrimmage as mainly a fun activity, a reward for the players after making them go through the coach-directed rigors of the session. Scrimmaging is definitely the most fun part of the practice for the players, but coaches should pay more attention to the planning and running of practice scrimmages in order to derive the maximum benefits, other than just a fun reward.
The first consideration is to make the scrimmage position-specific by playing in a set formation. A formation-based scrimmage puts the players into roles similar to what they will experience in the game on the weekend. This allows the coach to focus on teaching specific behavior for each player, based on their position. So, if your team finishes with a 6v6 scrimmage, put the players into roles, for example 3-1-2 (three defenders, one midfielder, and two forwards) and teach them the team shape, movement off the ball and decisions on the ball relative to their position. choose a formation that resembles the most to the 11v11 formation you will use on the weekend.
Other considerations are to add an offside line to the scrimmage to replicate the conditions of the game. Also, create a scenario and ask the players to manage the game according to the scenario. For example, give one team a 1 goal lead and tell the players that there are only 15 minutes left in the game. How should the trailing team play? How should the winning team play?
Use big goals and keepers in the scrimmages as much as possible to replicate the conditions of the real game. This approach derives more out of the scrimmage and improves your player's tactical awareness.
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