US Youth Soccer Blog

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Why Small-Sided Games?

US Youth Soccer


US Youth Soccer has thought long and hard about the answer to the question, "Why Small-Sided Games?" What does "Small-Sided Games" mean?

These are soccer games with fewer players competing on a smaller sized field. These are fun games that involve the players more because fewer players are sharing one ball. All ages can play "Small Sided Games", but it has a definite developmental impact on our younger
soccer players. US Youth Soccer recommendations for "number of players" at the various age groups are as follows:

  • U6: 3 against 3 no goal keepers
  • U8: 4 against 4 no goal keepers
  • U10: 6 against 6 with goal keepers
  • U12: 8 against 8 with goal keepers
  • U13 : 11 against 11 with goal keepers

Here are some of the reasons why we believe, as soccer coaches, administrators and parents must guarantee that our young soccer players play small-sided games:

  • Because we want our young soccer players to touch the soccer ball more often and become more skillful with it! (Individual technical development)
  • Because we want our young soccer players to make more, less-complicated decisions during the game! (Tactical development)
  • Because we want our young soccer players to be more physically efficient in the field space they are playing in! (Reduced field size)
  • Because we want our young soccer players to have more individual teaching time with the coach! Less players on the field and less players on the team will guarantee this! (Need to feel worthy and need to feel important)
  • Because we want our young soccer players to have more, involved playing time in the game! (More opportunity to solve problems that only the game presents)
  • Because we want our young soccer players to have more opportunity to play on both sides of the ball! (More exposure to attacking and defending situations)
  • Because we want our young soccer players to have more opportunities to score goals! (Pure excitement)

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. It’s a FUN environment that focuses on the young soccer player.

It just makes sense doesn’t it?

Advantages of Playing Small-Sided Games

Benefits to the Child:

  • More time with the coach
  • More practical space to be successful
  • Increased number of contacts with the ball
  • More actual playing time
  • Energetic workouts due to playing both offense and defense
  • Required to make more quality decisions
  • Experience repeating game situations more frequently
  • The work rate and involvement of a player stays consistent
  • While learning both offense and defense, a player will become more complete and will understand more readily the roles and importance of teammates
  • The smaller ball is lighter and more easily kicked, trapped, dribbled and passed

Benefits of the Small Field:

  • More efficient use of space
  • Games can be played simultaneously across a full size field
  • Children are physically more efficient in smaller space
  • Takes less time to achieve goal or advance to goal, more successful
  • Children are actively involved for a longer period of time