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Standardized Small-Sided Format

A key component for the new Player Development Initiative is to create small-sided standards and institute a birth year registration process. The rationale for the changes is simple; U.S. Soccer wants to develop players with more individual skill, intelligence, creativity and confidence. These standards were created based on the needs of the players and provide a consistent approach across the country. In 2016 the HDYSL will be adopting these new standards in the Spring season.

Here are some frequently asked questions from their website;

What are Small-Sided Games? Anything less than 11-a-side is considered a Small-Sided Game.

What are the differences between Small-Sided Games and 11 v. 11 matches in regards to field size, goal size, etc.? The fields are smaller, as are the goals and the ball. The length of the game is also shorter. The rules to play the game are modified for each age group.

What are the benefits to Small-Sided Games for players? With fewer players on the field and a smaller field on which to play the game the kids are more directly involved in the action of the game. That equates to more enjoyment in playing, more contact with the ball, more tactical decisions made and executed and more physical movement, which improves the player’s physical fitness.

Is this something clubs in the United States already participate in? Many clubs, especially those affiliated to US Youth Soccer, have been playing Small-Sided Games in one version or another for years, perhaps even a decade or more.

Are Small-Sided Games a fixture in other countries like Brazil, Germany, Spain? While Small-Sided Games are not new to American soccer, many other countries around the world also play Small-Sided Games with young players. In fact, Spain plays Small-Sided Games up through the U-15 age group.

What are U.S. Soccer and US Youth Soccer doing to help coaches organize Small-Sided Games? Assistance is given to coaches through coaching courses and clinics given by the State Associations and the two national organizations.

Where can I find more information on Small-Sided Games? Anyone interested in learning more about Small-Sided Games should use the Small-Sided Games Resource Center in the Coaches section of the US Youth Soccer website.

When will these Small-Sided Games be introduced in US Youth Soccer? Clubs that are ready may make the change immediately, especially for intramural programming. Others may wait until August of 2016. All clubs must be playing Small-Sided Games by August 2017.

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