Small-Sided Games

What Is Small-Sided Soccer?

AYSO recommends that all children under the age of 12 play short-sided (less than 11 players per team) soccer.

Why Small-Sided Soccer?

Small-sided soccer is about what is best for young soccer players. It's for AYSO coaches, referees, administrators, spectators, and anyone else concerned with the development of 5 to 12 year old soccer players

Young soccer players need special consideration

  • They are children playing a child’s game.
  • They must be regarded as young children, not mini adults.
  • They are essentially self-oriented and relate naturally to one or two others, not to large groups.
  • Fun and activity factors must be a central part of a child-centered program.

Educators agree early learning experiences are the most important and produce the most retention

  • Most children cannot sustain prolonged activity.
  • They function best in suitable starts and stops (rest periods).
  • Concentration span is limited, so frequent changes of pace and activity are essential.

Children love to learn

  • They learn a great deal more when the ratio of teacher (coach) to student (player) is reduced.
  • With small numbers and the simple nature of the game, the best teacher is the game itself.
  • With fewer players on the field, each player gets more touches of the ball and has greater opportunity to change location in a fast-flowing, fluid game.
  • Playing small-sided allows players to make simpler decisions and develop an earlier, better understanding of organization of play.
  • Smaller fields mean more players are directly involved in play, creating increased levels of both concentration and interest.
  • The reduced field size encourages more shots on goal by all players, therefore more goals scored.

Residual benefits

  • Parents are introduced to the game in smaller, more understandable doses.
  • Small-sided soccer is a great place to train new referees.
  • The rest of the world is playing short-sided, and we are part of the soccer world.
Small-Sided Games Revealed As Best Soccer Teacher...

Parents fight hard for small classrooms. They know that fewer students means a better learning environment.

Parents also know their children can't tackle calculus unless they've taken years of "real math": addition, subtraction, fractions.

Yet some of those same parents resist small-sided soccer. "It's not ‘real soccer,'" they say of 3-v-3, 5-v-5 or 7-v-7 games, with small goals.

Of course it is. The best players all over the planet -- as well as many who play simply for fun -- grew up playing small-sided. They understand that full-sided (11-v-11) soccer is really just a series of small contests -- small-sided soccer on a bigger field.