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9v9 introduction of the game model

As we prepare a deep dive into the 9v9 2-5-1 formation, we need to quickly discuss the notion of a Game Model. The Game Model forms the tactical principles that will guide the responses of our team during different moments of the game in different areas of the pitch. We will also incorporate our player development values and principles of play into our Game Model. The final section of this article provides additional references with more detail on the theory and implementation of a Game Model.

The match consists of a series of actions with teams changing possession, neither team in possession, and dead ball situations. We will use the following definition for “moments of the game”:

  • Our team in possession
  • The opponent in possession
  • “Positive” transition (our team winning the ball from the opponent)
  • “Negative” transition (our team losing the ball to the opponent)
  • Our restart
  • The opponent’s restart

Many coaches will further extend this list into the details of transition – the stages during a team’s control of possession. Because we are typically dealing with young players (U11-U12), our desire is to simplify the moments of the game into a basic list of categories.

The foundation of our player development values is based on long-term athletic development (LTAD). We view our 9v9 players in the context of their current physical and psychosocial abilities with an eye toward the transition to 11v11. We are guided by our player development standard “IC3″ – Intelligence, Competence, Courage, Character.

Our principles of play are based on the TOVO methodology:

Our principles have the flexibility to apply to the various moments of the game and in the different environments (field position, opposition positioning and pressure) that our players will encounter. Within our traning sessions, we want to provide our 9v9 players with an understanding and visualization of the problems that they might encounter, some possible solutions, insight on how to determine a “best” solution, and the space to reflect and reassess.  As coaches, we need to recognize that there is not a “one-size fits all” solution to every problem.

Having said all of this, we will need to put some stakes in the ground for our players – the basic ideas that we will work against in the moments of the game, in different places on the field. Our principles of play dictate the methods that we will use to solve problems.


In this article, we provide an overview of a Game Model and a context within the 9v9 framework. The theory of a Game Model is a subject in itself. For coaches interested in further investigation on Game Model, we recommend the following (click on image):

A Game Model and Accompanying Session Plans - Paddy King
Game Model Project - Jonas Munkvold