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Small-Sided Game for Finishing

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 35 x 20 yards (Scoring Zones: 10 x 20)

Teams: 3 v 3 + 1

Time: 15 Minutes


  • To understand when and where to create a goal scoring opportunity
  • To work on technique of passing the ball into the corner or knowing when and how to round the goalkeeper


The idea of this small sided game is to increase the number of chances in front of goal per player. The more chances, thus repetition of similar scenarios, a player is able to experience the calmer they will be when presented with the same chance in a game.

Composure in Front of Goal (1)

Calmness or composure in front of goal is critical to scoring. Many times players panic because it is a pressure situation, players think ‘don’t miss’ instead of ‘score’. Players can’t handle defenders chasing them down and breathing down their neck, the GK rushing out to stop them. This all leads to two things that happen, generally players result to power and the ball goes straight at the GK or high over the crossbar.

When in the team of 3,players spread out as wide as possible, the neutral keeps advancing, if the defenders do not close them down then they can run with the ball into the scoring area and take a shot themselves. If a defender does close them down the neutral passes to the side the defender came from. The receiving player has a positive first touch and quickly enters the scoring zone. To begin with no defender is allowed in so it is like a 1 v 1 scenario, just the attacker and GK.

The attacker pushes the ball to the middle and their body is to the side of the ball, the shoulder, of the side that is shooting, points behind the ball to open the hips. the attacker aims to ‘pass’ the ball into the corner, low and with curve to get around any potential save attempt from the GK. If the GK is too far to that side, shoot near post.

Composure in Front of Goal (2)

The next scoring scenario is when the ball is too close the GK to find the spaces to shoot. Realizing this the player looks to use their body to fake a shot, ‘selling’ the GK to move one way and then calmly pushing the ball past them to pass into the open goal.

Composure in Front of Goal (3)

The repetitive nature of going through 1 v 1 gives players the chance to experience the scenario often so in games they can recall their positive experiences and have a higher chance of keeping their composure and scoring.


Eventually you can allow one defender into the scoring zone, then 2 to really increase the pressure.

By Sean Pearson.  Sean is also the author Coaching Team Shape in the 3-3-1, Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1  and Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3