My my My my
The Importance of Scrimmages in Training Sessions
Photo of kids scrimmaging

Probably the most frustrating thing for me to see when observing a training session is when the session is over and the players didnt scrimmage at all. It always makes me think back to when I first started playing soccer and my reasons for playing. I didnt play because I enjoyed drills. I didnt play because I enjoyed hearing the coach speak. I played because I enjoyed PLAYING SOCCER.


Every year more and more people start to play the great game of soccer, which is wonderful. The sad thing is that every year we lose players when they turn 12, 13, and 14 (especially here in the US). There are numerous possible reasons for this (other interests, the realization they wont be the next great soccer star, etc.) but without a doubt a big reason is that coaches find a way to take the fun out of the game.

Coaches should organize the training sessions so that they build from start to finish with the finish being some type of a scrimmage. Whether this is a small-sided scrimmage, full field scrimmage, or any other variation, if the players dont have some type of a scrimmage in their training session, its an incomplete (and unsuccessful) session in my opinion. Not only is the scrimmage part of a training session the fun part for most players, it also allows the players to try out what they have been working on in that training session. For example, if the session is based on working in 34 different moves or feints to be a defender with the dribble, what better way to try them in action than to try them in a pressure free scrimmage at the end of training? I will never forget the coach who told me the teams that only work on drills in practice can become very good at those drills but they will never know how to play the game of soccer.

Having a scrimmage doesnt necessary mean just throwing the ball out and saying, go play. Start the scrimmage with restrictions or limitations (if the training session worked on possession, put in the rule that you need 3 or 5 passes before you can shoot, etc.). But before the scrimmage is over, lift the restrictions and let them play. The best way to learn the game is in the game (there certainly can still be some teaching and learning taking place during the scrimmage). More importantly, players will look forward to coming to training sessions.

Please feel free to email or with any questions if you are unsure or have any points you would like to discuss.

Tom and Jono