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Managing One Side Games

Recreational Soccer goal is to provide a safe and fun soccer environment for all. A key ingredient to a fun and good player experience is competitive games. Despite our best efforts to create balanced teams, there are occasions when a team is much stronger than the opposition. This creates a problem for both teams in that the weaker team experiences morale issues in the face of a negative goal margin while the stronger team does not really learn from playing one-sided games.

Should you face this situation, we ask coaches use the following ideas to try keep the score reasonable and not humiliate the players if the game is clearly one-sided or the score difference reaches 5 goals:

The stronger team can in a discrete, subtle and quiet way:

  • Switch players into unfamiliar positions (defenders into attack and vice-versa)
  • Provide more playing time to players who pose less of a scoring threat and to weaker players
  • Require multiple passes before a goal can be scored (For example, 3 or more consecutive passes or a backwards pass must be completed before a shot can be attempted)
  • Only allow players to shoot only from outside the penalty area
  • Only allow players to shoot only on a volley or with a header (suitable for older teams)
  • Reduce the number of players on the field
  • Reduce the number of forwards or offensive players
  • Please do not shout instructions such as "Stop Scoring" instead quietly tell the substitutes and then have them quietly communicate it to the rest of the team when they enter the game.​
  • Doing this will provide the stronger team with new challenges within the context of the game.

The weaker team can:

  • Add additional players to the field
  • Provide their stronger players with more playing time but still allow the weaker players to play at least 50% of the game. 

For the K to 3rd grade teams you can also announce you are going to start a new world cup game with new teams and then create a number of teams (i.e. at least 4 teams) that consist of a mix of players from both teams and have them play short 5 minutes matches against each of the other teams in rapid succession. 

We recognize that this is not an easy issue. It is not easy for a young player to be told "don’t shoot" or "try not to score" when that is the fundamental key to the game they are learning and playing. Therefore, effective techniques to control the game should include skill challenges for the players requiring them to complete assigned tasks prior to shooting and scoring.  These challenges should be made more difficult according to the circumstances but should always make scoring much less likely.