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At Zia Youth Soccer League, we take our policies, rules, and structures very seriously, and think through each decision, attempting to know not only what we teach, but why we teach it.  We strive to have procedures for each age group that meet every player at the appropriate developmental stage, teaching techniques, rules, and nuances of the game as the players age and develop.


One question we are often asked is, "Why do we play small-sided games instead of the 'standard' 11v11?”


US Youth Soccer, of which we are a part, has put much research and experience into developing its recommendations, and strongly 
endorses small-sided games as the best way to develop fundamentally sound, creative soccer players who love the game of soccer.

What are their reasons?


(Adapted from US Youth Soccer):


1. Technical development:

Young players who tough the ball often become more confident, skillful, and creative with it.  

2.  Tactical development:
As young players make more, less-complicated decisions during the game, they will become better decision-makers as they advance and as tactics become more complex.  

3. The reduced field size allows young players to be more physically efficient in the field space they are playing in.

4. Having fewer players on the field and on the teams guarantees that young players have more individual teaching time with the coach.

5. Small-sided games give young players more involved playing time in the game, which means more opportunities to solve problems that the game presents.  

6. Small-sided games give young players more opportunities to play on both sides of the ball, exposing them to many attacking an defending situations, and making them more well-rounded in developing skills for these situations.

7. Small-sided games are exciting and give young players more opportunities to score goals.

8. Small-sided games help distance our young players from the unnecessary pressures of the adult game, and fosters enjoyment of the game for its own sake.

Along those same lines, the field and goal sizes are appropriate for the number of players on the field.  Players do not move “beyond” 5v5 or 7v7, or “graduate” to a bigger field.  All players, no matter the age, can benefit from, develop during, and thrive in small-sided games, on smaller fields, with smaller goals.  A14-year-old can learn and develop just as much in a 5v5 game as a 4-year-old can.  Ever seen a group of professional soccer players playing on a small field?  Check it out on YouTube.  It’s impressive. Your child will not out grow field sizes.  The competition, perhaps, but not the field.

The bottom line is more touches on the ball, less complicated decisions, and more scoring leads to more excitement, more participation, and most of all a better environment for player development.