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How small are your Small-Sided Games (SSGs)? | Coaching Children (Ages 5-12) | ConnectedCoaches

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Home » Groups » Coaching Children (Ages 5-12) » blogs » Andrew Beaven » How small are your Small-Sided Games (SSGs)?
Coaching Children (Ages 5-12)

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How small are your Small-Sided Games (SSGs)?

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I suspect that most (all?) coaches in team sports have been introduced to the use of Small-Sided Games (SSGs) in training contexts.

But what is the smallest viable SSG that still retains the essential features of your sport?

On Saturdays, I coach at a largish cricket academy; we see more than 100 young players over the course of the day — some keen club and school players, some there because their father, or their grandfather, played the game and think the child should, too.

We see a lot of younger players (thinking mainly about u7s and younger) who don’t actually know that much about the game of cricket, or their role in it.

Very few play in the park; I doubt any play any street cricket, or backyard.

Consequently it is very difficult for them to see how the skills they practice in isolation relate to the game.

So we started to look at SSGs that might be used to introduce some game awareness.

Looking at some coaching science literature we came across the following:

Striking/fielding games such as cricket, baseball, and rounders share:

  • the concept of scoring by striking a ball into open spaces
  • fielders being placed strategically to prevent runs from being scored.

So this might be the starting point for a minimal cricket(-like) game — reduce the game yo batter vs. fielders.

  • Perhaps 3-4 fielders (“must have one foot on your mat”), with the batter trying to hit the ball between & beyond them;
  • coach feed, to start with, until the players develop their own throwing and bowling skills;
  • fielders can stop & catch, then throw the ball to the coach;
  • batter can score runs (run to the coach and get a high five; run back to the batting crease; repeat) until the ball is returned by the fielders.

The game certainly isn’t new, I know.

But how we use it might be - more emphasis on having the children (start to) understand how the game works (batter vs. fielders), hopefully some understanding of how to win the game (hit the gaps when batting; return the ball quickly when fielding), then when we do work on technique it will, hopefully, make more sense than it does now.

The description of the “minimal” form for striking & fielding games is quoted in Kirk, D. and MacPhail, A. (2002) ‘Teaching Games for Understanding and Situated Learning: Rethinking the Bunker-Thorpe Model’, Journal of Teaching in Physical Education 21(2), pp. 177-192.

There is a copy of this paper on the University of Bedfordshire open repository: http://uobrep.openrepository.com/uobrep/handle/10547/233694

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