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Coaches Blog

Sam's Blog is a bi-weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog. Sam Snow is the Coaching Director for US Youth Soccer.

 

Progression of Small-Sided Games

Sam Snow

Across the nation and around the world soccer clubs have already made the change or are in the process of making the change to small-sided games (SSG) for preteen age groups. If your club hasn’t already made the modification then it’s behind the times. This change in soccer culture is an acknowledgement of societal impacts on sport, especially in the nations within CONCACAF and UEFA.

In the USA, the move to SSG is advocated by the United States Olympic Committee, U. S. Soccer, the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, American Youth Soccer Organization, Soccer Association for Youth and of course US Youth Soccer.

US Youth Soccer has promoted SSG in the early 1980’s. The initial effort was to change U8 soccer from 11 vs 11 on a full size field and with a full size goal to something saner for the players. The result was 8-a-side soccer.  Since then the game has evolved and the need for SSG is more poignant than ever. Beginning in 2000, US Youth Soccer has advocated a stair step approach for youth players into the adult version of soccer.

Here is the logic behind our progression of 3 vs 3 to 8 vs 8 and eventually 11-a-side. Our work on SSG began under the direction of Dr. Tom Fleck in the 1980s.  With a doctorate in primary school education, Dr. Fleck wanted to modify soccer so that it made more sense to young players and to novice coaches who had not ever played soccer themselves. Keep in mind that in the 1980s perhaps 95% of our coaches had never played the sport that they now found themselves coaching. We needed a format that made sense to them and to very young players. We could not say to a 6-year-old just go play with other kids in the neighborhood or with a parent, because none of them were playing the sport.

We recommend 3 vs 3 for the U6 age group. Given the ego-centric nature of 5 and 6-year-olds, to account for parallel play and for there to be some notion of soccer shape we settled on 3-a-side without goalkeepers for this age group.

We recommend 4 vs 4 for the U8 age group. Still no goalkeepers – let all of the kids be near the ball and chase it up and down the pitch. The ego-centric approach to soccer has improved, but not much, so let’s keep the numbers small. Also with 4-a-side it makes it easier to teach partner play and for the kids to understand it. Finally, the purists like these numbers as it theoretically allows for width and depth for the attacking team.

We recommend 6 vs 6 for the U10 age group. The position of goalkeeper is now introduced to the game. Small group play is now possible and 6-a-side allows for various combinations of triangles around the ball. For the less experienced and/or knowledgeable coach 6-a-side allows for a formation without a midfield line in the team, so it is easier to understand for the coach and young players. However, a more knowledgeable and experienced coach may introduce a midfield line into the game for the advanced group of young players.

We recommend 8 vs 8 for the U12 age group. There is now a midfield line in the team. We think that adding two more field players into the team is enough for children this age to absorb (cognitively and psychosocially) and actually be able to use in a match. The coaching emphasis now is on large group tactics. The State Associations, along with US Youth Soccer, started working on implementing SSG for the preteen age groups in the 1990s. Many of the State Associations have already established 8-a-side for the U12 age group, which is a fulcrum age group.

In a nutshell, this is how we have come to this place on the player development pathway.

SSG

Figure 1 From the Player Development presentation in the National Youth License coaching course

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The 50/50 Blog: 3.27.14

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Without risk there is no victory

 

Neymar Nike FC Instagram

Today we are able to provide the first details of the Nike Football Club, known as Nike FC, a new Nike 2014 World Cup campaign. Learn more here.

 


 

USA vs Mexico

 

usa team

The MLS side of the U.S. Men's National Team will face Mexico with the additions of two Mexican League players (DaMarcus Beasely, and Michael Orozco) and newest addition Julian Green. See the entire roster.

 


 

Walk the field in Brazil

 

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The Player Escort program gives 25 young U.S. soccer fans aged 6 to 10 the chance for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Parents can enter for an opportunity for their child to walk hand-in-hand with a U.S. Men’s National Soccer player as they take the field for a 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ match this summer. Learn more here.

 


 

American AS ROMA owners set to build new stadium

 

Roma

“The stadium is a very important piece for us,” Pallotta said in an interview. “With the stadium there and if we do what our plans say we’re going to do, I believe we can be one of the top three clubs in the world. That’s the goal — I’m not afraid to say it.” Read more about the stadium plans.

 

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The 50/50 Blog: 3.26.14

Stickley

Washington Youth Soccer partners with NSCAA

 

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Washington Youth Soccer has partnered with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) to create the Washington Coaches Association, a valuable resource for coaches of all levels in Washington state. Read more here.

 


 

Bayern Munich crowned Champions

 

 

Bayern Munich has clinched the Bundesliga title after only 27 games. From its 79 goals so far, the Bundesliga's YouTube channel picked these as the Top 10 Bayern golazos. Maybe since the title is clinched we'll see Julian Green get a chance with the first team before the World Cup!

 


 

Molly Halloran on female coaches

 

molly_Halloran

In a field where female coaches are the minority, Molly Halloran is even more exceptional - a successful goalkeeper coach with a top Southern California club. Read more about Halloran's stance on female coaches.
 


 

Making headway on San Jose's new stadium

 

 

 

The construction on the Earthquakes new stadium seems to be going well. The Earthquakes plan to use the stadium next season.  Check out more pictures of the stadium going up.

 

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The 50/50 Blog: 3.25.14

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Miami Stadium

 

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While it is just a rendering, we sure do like the way this image of the prospective stadium in Port Miami looks. Read more here.

 


 

Americanized Europe team logos

 

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Europe's leading soccer teams haven't really been adapted into an American league. It is fun to imagine what American marketers might make out of them if they were to play here. Check out this infographic of what they may look like.

 


 

Jake Keegan

 

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Jake Keegan, who played for the East Fishkill Thunder of the East Hudson Youth Soccer League (EHYSL) for 12 years and in the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) Olympic Development Program for five years, has been doing a great deal of traveling around the world since becoming a professional soccer player last year. Read more about where Keegan is now.

 


 

Nike relationship further unites U.S. Soccer and US Youth Soccer

 

nike

Please join us in welcoming Nike Soccer to the team. Official press release here, http://bit.ly/1mqv1dk

 

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