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News Article

Games vs. Drills & Practice to Games... from David Wood

Games vs. Drills and Practice to Game

(US Soccer Best Practices)



The US Soccer Best Practice booklet is a great tool for all coaches, parents and players. It highlights the development of players from the Youth Level through the National Team. Building through the player development model at all ages and expectations at each. There were a few areas in which stood out above the rest, these were:

             - Games vs. Drills

             - Practice to Game ratio


It is a common thought from those involved with soccer in the the United States that we need to have more “drills” for our players to develop. If a team is seen playing “games” it may be misinterpreted that they are not developing. But when we compare Drills to Games from the viewpoint of the US Soccer Best Practices it highlights a lot of areas for thought when we look at sessions. When we practice, as coaches, we design all of our sessions to replicate the game. This is done in order to allow the players to easily transfer ideas from sessions to the real game. By playing games within practices they are getting 100% of the game experience. With many drills they may not be realistic to the game, resulting a decreased amount of transferable skills. This is not to be misinterpreted as we should not use drills but make sure they are dynamic and demanding environments. They may allow us to break a section of the game down to give the players “a picture” into manageable pieces.


Switching ideas onto Practice to Games. One common theme in which kept on arising was that of maximizing the number of games each year, the 30 games in the year was common. Highlighting that all players need time away from the game to rest. The Football Association (the governing body of English football, has made the following recommendations regarding the Football Academy program, which targets the top young players in England and is run as a mandatory developmental arm of the top professional league in England ) believe “players 12-18 should play a maximum of 30 games per year in their club”. We all want to play in extra leagues and tournaments but the real learning happens in practice sessions. It is suggested that there needs to be a 2-3 practice sessions for 1 game. Therefore, as coaches we are really giving our players all the tools in the time we have with them in practice so they can become better come game day. I am a firm believer the game is the best teacher, therefore allowing players to be creative in sessions and providing free play in practice is critical for them to experience the game.


David Wood




US Soccer Best Practice