There is no right or wrong way to use a deck of MatchPlay Cards! We purposefully didn’t make set rules because we felt it was important that coaches and players have the opportunity to create their own magic. Here are a few ways to play with MatchPlay Cards...


“It’s all about choice & challenge and insisting to persist, then reflecting, tweaking, making changes to their next problem.”

Coaches at Reading FC Academy have shared with us how they pre-select MatchPlay Cards specific to the session theme or focus. They are often selected in relation to a players Individual Development Plan (IDP) or self-selected by the players themselves for self-challenge. 

Fun - Freedom - Focus 

Screen Shot 2020-01-25 at 19.50.55.png


MatchPlay Cards have been developed around four psychological pillars; 1) Transferring responsibility 2) Ever-changing environment with ‘Randomness’ 3) Training ‘above’ the game and 4) Being reflective.



Providing each team with one MatchPlay Card (Or more) as their mission for a set period of play asks players to adapt and recognise what the opposition are trying to do in real time. Equally, you could place the cards downwards and invite players to make a choice, this adds an element of surprise.


Perfect for the foundation phase, and good for the youth development phase. ideal if your stuck planning time and want to challenge players individually

Tom Hartley 
Arsenal WFC Development Officer



MatchPlay Cards are here to open up opportunities for players to own their game and transition to the next level.

The involvement of MatchPlay Cards doesn’t always have to be openly known though, you may choose to secretly challenge players without the whole group knowing. Consider who you are giving the card to, would you see a different impact if players gave the card rather than you?


Throwing a question into the mix before a game or element of training would engage players (and coaches!) to consider their actions as the game evolves in complexity and may offer a deeper learning experience through sporting engagement. 

Breaking into lines of play during half time with each group given a Reflection MatchPlay Card to discuss before coming back together to share their thoughts is a dead simple way of using time effectively rather than a coach being directional to the group as a whole and not individualised.

Screen Shot 2019-10-12 at 12.27.47.png


Challenge completed? Trade a MatchPlay Card amongst the playing group to set someone else the challenge. This could be a teammate or an opposing teammate based on strengths and weaknesses observed within the group.