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There are times when you could be watching your favorite soccer team and think to yourself, “I wish they practiced that corner routine a bit more or worked on their formation more”. But how would they be able to do that? To be able to simulate match conditions without a match. That brings us to the question, what is a scrimmage in soccer?
A scrimmage is another term used for practice. A soccer team will have a scrimmage that mimics situations that happen on a soccer field when playing games. It will give players experience in dealing with game situations and be a chance for them to learn how the team plays and how to play their chosen position.
What does scrimmage in soccer mean?
As mentioned above, a scrimmage in soccer is essentially a practice session. It is where the coach of the team can put his players in match situations to help develop their skills or to work on areas of their game. A scrimmage can also be used to trial a new system or formation too, without doing it in an actual game where points matter.
It has many benefits because soccer players that partake in a scrimmage can have a better game awareness because they are in a “practice” game that is a proper match simulation. The opportunities for growth and learning are huge and that is why most teams, whether they be amateurs or professionals, scrimmage at least once a week.
What is the purpose of scrimmage?
The main purpose of a scrimmage is to give players firsthand experience to try and understand how a proper game of soccer works. This is supremely handy for players who have not played soccer before.
It lets the soccer players get familiar will all the rules for a game as well as understanding how some aspects of the game work. For example, taking throw-ins, free kicks, or taking a penalty as well as what offside is.
Scrimmages can either be played against another team which can sometimes be called a friendly. Or it can be against the same players at the club, for example, the first time eleven might play against the reserves. It gives players the chance to practice and play against different players whose skill levels vary and by doing this, coaches can see how players handle matchday situations.
It can have other benefits too. For example, if a soccer team has been on a recent run of bad form (say lost 2 of their last 3) and the team has been far too open at the back, or they are conceding goals from corners or free kicks. It then gives the coach a chance to work on this during a scrimmage, to be able to try and understand why these types of things are happening.
Because it is essentially a match simulation, the coach and players can then get a much better understanding of what is going wrong on the pitch and potentially how to fix it.
This can be how they set up for a corner, whether they play a zone or whether they go man to man, and how the formation can get the best out of players who have struggled in competitive matches, and so on.
On top of that, it also gives the coaches a great insight into what their player’s strengths are but also what their weaknesses are too. They can get all this information without the players having a natural pressure that comes when playing a league game.
It also gives the coach a chance to play some of their players in different positions around the field. They do this so that they can see where a player can be effective during a game but it can also be beneficial for a soccer player who has not quite found his or her preferred position yet and gives them a chance to play multiple positions to try and find the one that suits them the best.
How long is a soccer scrimmage?
Now, normally a traditional soccer scrimmage will mimic a full game which is 90 minutes with some time added on. This gives the soccer players the chance to know what it feels like to play a full game, with the proper match intensity but without all the pressure that comes with a competitive league game.
There are other variations to the length of a soccer scrimmage, and it will largely be down to what the coach will want to gain out of it. Will he want to see how his side goes for a full 90 minutes while trying out a new formation? Or will he simply want to play a 7-6 scrimmage to help better prepare his players for if they are ever reduced to 10 men due to a red card offense?
All these situations can arise at any time during a game so for the coach to be able to put his players in these situations without really losing anything from it can only be a good thing. By doing this, the hope is that the soccer players will gain knowledge that is going to help them during games. Simply because they have been in that exact situation while playing in the scrimmage and that is where the real benefits can come from.
So ultimately it will depend on what they hope to gain out of the scrimmage and as mentioned before it can be beneficial to both the coach as well as the players.
How long is a high school scrimmage soccer game?
As with the previously mentioned paragraphs, normally a soccer scrimmage will go for the full 90 minutes, however, since we are now talking about high school soccer players than their game times, as well as scrimmage times, can be altered.
Each soccer league may very well have different times for high school soccer. The Youth Leagues will normally have the shortest periods as the players are young.
High School scrimmages on the other hand are longer than the youth matches but shorter than the professionals. A normal high school match is usually around 40 minutes for each half and they can also consist of four 20 minute periods to help break the game up a little bit and allow the players to get frequent rest.
Soccer Scrimmage Drills
There are several scrimmage drills that teams can undertake. The first one is the usual full game scrimmage. This is a full match simulation. It will be 11 on 11 and the two teams can be a mix of first-team players and reserve players or it can be the entire first-team playing against the reserves team.
Next is the small, sided scrimmage. This does not simulate a proper full 90 minute game of soccer, instead, it will ideally create situations that players will face during an actual game of soccer. When playing a small-sided scrimmage, full teams will not play against each other, and not every position is covered. This is because there are not enough players participating in the scrimmage.
The soccer players are usually matched up in a one on one situation or sometimes two on two and the soccer players are given detailed and specific situations to deal with. Such as playing out from the back, what to do during kick-off, among others. Both sets of players will either attack or defend depending on which situation is presented to them.
The main purpose of the small-sided practice or scrimmage is to ultimately help the players understand how to process the specific situations that they might face when playing a competitive game. The focus on these scrimmages is to help each other solve the scenario rather than the actual competition side of it and in turn help the entire team become better.
On top of that, it can also help players make a connection with the actions that they take on a soccer field and the outcomes that might happen because of their actions. Many soccer coaches tend to like this type of scrimmage and find it to be far more effective to his players.
This is because at any time the coach can blow his whistle and stop the scrimmage and allow the players and learn from what they had just seen and go through it in great detail, rather than go through the entire scrimmage with no teaching and in turn no feedback for the players with what they did right in certain situations and what they did wrong.
Lastly is the 5v5 or 3v3 scrimmages. The main point here is that there are significantly fewer players and that means that every player will get their fair share of touches of the soccer ball. These little scrimmages can be used for skill training to keep the ball away from the other group and can also be used for a scenario for the players to one-touch their way out of trouble.