Drill practice is not enough on its own for improved performance, modified and small-sided games help to ensure improvements in skill execution transfer into games/competition.
A modified game replicates the sport, but changes some of the rules. Examples of rules changed include: limited touches or time with the ball, smaller field/court size, different sized balls or goals, or the added requirement to defend repeatedly. Modified games allow for greater focus on specific skills, with the changes in rules aiming to increase the need for a particular skill. For example, when looking to improve basketball jump shots, the modified game could make jump-shots worth 4 points, or the only way to score in order to increase the number of jump-shots taken.
Small-sided games also increase the opportunity for skill execution, but do so by increasing each player’s time and repetition of the skill. For example, a 2-on-2 football game inside the 18 yard box, increases the athletes time on the ball, and will increase the number of passes needing to be complete, as well as movement off the ball in order to receive the pass.
Often modified and small-sided games are combined so that the game is both modified and made smaller. This increases the practice of the skill in performance like situations, helping to improve performance when the skill is required. An example of this is a netball game of possession with only 3 players on each team in a half court. The athlete may only have the ball for less than 1 second, and points are scored by the number of passes completed, rather than shooting at the net. This increases player time with the ball, increases the number of passes made, and helps the players to make decisions faster in game situations.
Modified and small-sided games are useful for teaching skills at the many different levels of skill acquisition. Many young and inexperienced players begin to enjoy the sport through modified or small sided games. Even the top elite teams, such as Barcelona, use modified and small sided games.