Small Sided Soccer
Mansfield Youth Soccer proudly introduced small - sided soccer to the In-town Program during the Fall of 2007. Small - sided soccer provides children U5 - U6 to have the opportunity to play 3 v 3 and U7 - U8 to play 4 v 4. This format is developmentally appropriate for children as it allows for each child to have more touches on the ball, make more of their own decisions on the field, be more involved in the play, and it provides a better environment for skill development.
The format MYS will provide will be called Dual – Sided Games. Mass Youth Soccer coaches will be available to MYS coaches on scheduled time to present preplanned activities prior to practice, as well as to assist at game times. MYS is encouraged that this small – sided play will create a FUN, safe, and respectful soccer environment. Coaches will be a supportive role creating a positive environment as “playing the game” becomes the best teacher for the children; therefore, decreasing the need for coaches to direct the children on positioning and game tactics. Small – sided soccer will provide coaches the opportunity to encouragement skill development, sportsmanship, and assist the development of all players in MYS community. Our goal is to bring a love of the game - soccer - to each child that walks on the field.
For more information on small - sided soccer, please visit these web sites:
usyouthsoccer.org - Small sided games brochure (pdf)
usyouthsoccer.org - Small sided games manual (pdf)
mayouthsoccer.org - 225 reasons for small sided soccer (powerpoint) For Dual-Sided Format view slide 17
The program is run by the MYS In-town Director along with MYS Coach & Player Development Director.
United States Youth Soccer Association has exhaustively studied and research youth soccer in terms of: enjoyment, physical safety, player development- physical, psychological, cognitive, technical, and tactical. These soccer guidelines follow child cognitive development used for education. The answer is the use of age appropriate small sided games!
The implementation of small sided games is being carried out in state associations across the country. This is the direction to best develop our young soccer players and to ensure a positive, fun environment for them.
First, let’s understands the meaning of "Small-Sided Games". These are soccer games with fewer players competing on a smaller sized field. These are fun games that involve the players more because one ball is being shared by fewer players. All ages can play "Small Sided Games", but it has a definite developmental impact on our younger soccer players.
Here are some of the reasons why MYS believes, as soccer coaches, administrators and parents we should adopt small-sided games:
These are the reasons why we adults must foster "Small-Sided Games" in our youth soccer programs. The "Small-Sided" environment is a developmentally appropriate environment for our young soccer players.
Why make the change?
It makes the game of soccer a better experience for children. More touches on the ball, more opportunities to make decisions, more actual play. Energetic workouts due to playing both attacking and defensive roles. While learning both offense and defense, a player will become more complete and will understand more readily the roles and importance of teammates.
Whose idea was this?
US Youth Soccer has been a proponent of small sided games since the 1980’s. Small sided games are endorsed by our national coaching committee, the State Directors of Coaching, US National Team Coaches for Men & Women, including many foreign soccer organizations: England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, France, Korea to name a few!
Why can’t they play 11v11 like "real" soccer?
The 11v11 format is the adult version of the game. Using an adult size field and goals makes little sense for children under the age of twelve.
Other sports don’t alter their game- why does soccer?
It’s not a good comparison with football or baseball- neither has the element of transition that soccer does. Look at basketball- how many kids play basketball 5 on 5? Most basketball is played 1v1, 2v1 or 2v2 in a driveway! Kids don’t wait until they have nine friends to have a game! Playing on a small field is a more efficient use of space, it takes less time to advance for a shot on goal, and children are more actively involved for a longer period of time.
I didn’t grow up playing this way!
True! Whether you grew up in the USA or another country, soccer was traditionally played 11v11 for all age groups. This isn’t true any longer- small sided game formats are in use all over the world- not just in the US.
How will they learn to play 11v11?
Progressing from 3v3, 4v4, 6v6, to 8v8 BEFORE 11v11 is a sound educational method. The problem is that young players were forced into 11v11 before their bodies were physically developed to play the adult version of the game. Any notion that players will be less prepared to play 11v11 is not justified.
Does competitive or travel have to play by this new rule?
Yes. The decision to play small sided games is based on "age appropriate" philosophy- the level of play is not a factor. All players of that age group should play the same format.
This will never work!
Sure it will! A number of State Associations have been playing 3v3 at under 6 & 4v4 at Under-8 successfully for more than a dozen years! Adopting 8v8 for under 11’s and under 12’s is the fastest growing trend in youth soccer.