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Six male football players celebrate on a pitch. They're around 12 years old.

In an ideal world...

… you'd turn up to every session with a carefully considered plan. One that meets the needs of each individual in your team. Unfortunately, the demands of real life sometimes get in the way.

When this happens, match scenarios can be a really simple solution. Plus, they capitalise on the fact that players love ‘just having a game’. Let’s take a closer look.


What is a match scenario?

Simply put, a match scenario is any situation that your players could face in a competitive game. Here are some examples.

Match scenario one

You’re 1-0 down in The FA Cup and there are only five minutes left. How will you win the game?

Match scenario two

You’re 2-0 up at halftime in the World Cup semi-final. Both of your central defenders have just been injured. How will you hold onto the win?

Match scenario three

It’s the last match of the season. To win the league, you need to beat your opponents. It’s 2-2 and you’ve just been awarded a penalty. What do you do?


Why are match scenarios useful?

Match scenarios are realistic and relevant. They provide a safe environment where players can:

  • experience competition
  • collaborate with teammates
  • work on in-game decision-making
  • learn to deal with winning and losing
  • build their understanding of game dynamics and roles
  • test their physical, technical and tactical skills under pressure.

Match scenarios help players understand how training links to actual football. And, as a result, they’re a great way to improve your team’s engagement and development.


How to use match scenarios

To support learning, your scenarios must map to your players’ needs. For example, if your team need to work on controlled defending, try challenging them to hold onto a win.

Next, make sure you give players time to understand the challenge. Before you start, let each team discuss their approach. If they’re struggling, use prompts to encourage their thinking. Examples include the following:

  • How will you play?
  • What tactics will you use?
  • What are the most important things to do to help you score?
  • Is there anything to worry about?
  • How will you help each other if you get tired?
  • How will you help each other stay calm?

During the action, build in regular time-outs that players can use to adjust their strategy. Then, after the game, ask your team to reflect on what went well – and what could go better next time.

Remember: there's no limit to the type of match scenarios you can try. If you’re looking for inspiration, keep an eye on Match of the Day – or ask your players.

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