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.
- 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.
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.