5U Program Guidelines

The objective of the 5-Under program is to provide young players and their parents with a “pressure free” introduction to the beautiful and simple game of soccer. At this age, players should be exposed to soccer by playing simple, fun activities and games that require little to no practice, and a minimal time commitment.

This program allows players to explore the game for themselves, while parents are given a soccer foundation on which to build and grow into future AYSO coaches, referees and administrators.


5U Activity Day

Session Format

In the first weeks of the season, there will be Master Coaches providing skill and drills instructions to the coaches and players. Team parents will assist with entertaining the team during the morning briefing. We will start with introductions to the session, explaining a few key tools the coaches need to use when working with their 5U teams.

Volunteer coaches will have to make sure all parents who are watching the session are outside the grid they are working as we don't need them in the coaching zone. This is for obvious health and safety reasons and also so the session can run effectively and smoothly with no interruptions.

Coaches will watch a brief demonstration of the drills the Master coach has arranged for the week’s session. These sessions may be provided to the coaches earlier in the week for familiarization. In this brief demonstration, one Master Coach may be leading the drill and the other can be answering any questions the coaches may have.

Having all Coaches in the area maximizes the time coaches spend with their teams, and decrease the time they are standing talking. The Master Coaches will walk around the teams and giving extra coaching points and instructions to those who need it. We will also give progressions to those teams who are excelling.

After the drills have been demonstrated, the coaches will go back to their areas. Team volunteers would have set up the team’s playing area. They will then play a short sided game.

The scrimmage for each team is on the game schedule page at our website. Match opponents and field location are provided in the schedule. The scrimmage will be 4v4 with substitution, the coaches decide on substitutes. One assistant coach can take over roles as a referee. There are no fouls, and all balls out of play should be rolled back in in to play by a coach or designated volunteer.

5U Session times

8:30am – 8:50am: Warm-up and Skill Activities/Games

8:50am – 8:55am 5 min break, setup up for games

8:55am – 9:20am 20 min games (5-min halftime)

Recommendations for Head and assistant coaches.

1) You are an entertainer

2) Remain enthusiastic

3) Research children’s TV so you are clued onto what the children relate to

4) When coaching, coach on the children’s level (sit down or kneel so you are at their eye level)

5) Remember they can do NOTHING wrong. Do not say what was wrong there?

6) Use coaching points which are in the PDF

7) Positive reinforcement CONSTANTLY. (For example..Well done Jake that was awesome)

A few recommendations that the coaches are advised to ask the parents adhere too:

1) Every child brings a ball

2) Every child brings water bottle

3) Every child wears soccer shoes and shin guards

4) No parents inside the coaching area

As soon as the Master Coaches are ready and blow their whistle, the head coaches from all teams will come to the coaching area. This is to be done ASAP.

All coaches are advised to review the drills prior to the Saturday so they have a brief understanding of what they are doing.

The following guidelines include the only elements of the Laws of the Game that apply to the AYSO Short Sided Game Program for 5U:

The Field:

The recommended field size for the 5-U games is 25L x 15W yards marked with lines or cones.

The Goals:

The goals in 5-U games should be a maximum of 4 feet high and 6 feet wide or 2 tall cones set 6 feet apart.

The Ball:

A size 3 ball is used for 5-U games.

The Teams:

Each 5-U team should have a maximum of 6 on the roster. Games are played with 4 players per team on the field (4v4) and no goalkeepers. Substitutions are made at quarters, halftime and for injuries. A minimum of 2 quarters is required for each player and it is recommended that no one play 4 quarters until everyone has played 3 quarters. Separate boys and girls teams are recommended at all levels.

Player Equipment:

Shoes and shinguards, covered by the socks, are mandatory at all practice and game activities. Soccer shoes, tennis shoes, or similar type athletic shoes are recommended. The type and condition of cleated shoes must be inspected for safety before use.

The Start of Play:

To start the first and second halves, and following each goal in all age group games, play is started or restarted with a kick-off in the center of the field. A coin toss is used to determine which team kicks off to start the game and the other team kicks off to start the second half. Following a goal, the team scored upon kicks off.

The Kick-off:

The kick-off is taken from the center of the field with each team in their own half and the team not kicking off at least 5 yards from the ball. Do not insist the opponent be a minimum of precisely 5 yards from the ball as this is just a guide to give the kicker room to kick the ball without it immediately hitting an opponent. Remember, let them play and do not interfere for technicalities.

Ball In and Out of Play:

The ball is out of play in all age group games when it completely crosses the touch line (side line) or goal line (end line) either on the group or in the air. In 5-U games, the game supervisors for the week will determine when the ball is out of play and should guide the restart, interfering as little as possible. It is the player’s game, let them play and work on technique later.

Method of Scoring:

A goal in all age group games is awarded when the ball completely crosses the goal line into the goal. Goals should be enthusiastically celebrated by everyone. In 5-U games, goals are not recorded to determine who wins as everyone is a winner.

Heading the Ball: 

Consistent with the US Soccer mandates on heading the ball, heading is banned for all division players 11U (12U and below for programs without single age divisions) and below in both practices and matches.

Fouls and Other Stoppages:

Deliberate fouling should be rare in 5-U games. Kicking, tripping, handling the ball and dangerous play may occur. There should be few, if any additional reasons to stop play in 5-U games. If a player is “not playing well with others”, or if play must be stopped for any other reason (injury, substitution, confusion, or to watch a passing train, butterfly or frog), refocus the players and begin again with a free kick or as may be appropriate. Award the restart to whichever team deserves it. Stoppages must not become a lengthy ceremony.

Free Kick:

Play may have to be stopped occasionally to “sort things out” in 5-U games. When this is necessary, correct the situation then restart with a free kick for a deserving team. The opposing team should be at least 5 yards from the ball in 5-U games. All free kicks in 5-U games are direct free kicks which means, if you’re lucky, a goal can be scored directly from the kick without the ball having to be touched or played by another player on the field (indirect kick).

Throw in: 

No throw-in. coaches put ball back in play.