Small-Sided Format


  • The field is approximately 30 yards x 20 yards although the size can be adjusted over a period of time by trial and error.
  • Goal size is modified or can be set-up by using corner flags (preferably free-standing ones), 9 feet apart. An ideal method is to use corner flags inserted in large cones.
  • Goals can be scored from anywhere, but the ball must pass below the imaginary line across the top of the goals if flags are used.
  • Either the coach serves as referee, appoints an assistant or parent, or a junior referee is assigned.
  • Time-outs are called every 3 minutes and all players are substituted or rotated.
  • There are no goalkeepers in the U6 and U7 Divisions.
  • In U8 Division, each team has a sweeper/keeper that is changed at each time-out on a rotating basis so that equal time is experienced in that position. The goalkeeper “handling zone” is 6 yards out from each goal lines.
  • If there are 6+ players available on a team (3 on/3 off), line changes should be made periodically so the same three players do not always play together.
  • When the ball goes out of play, the game is restarted either over the sidelines, with a “Throw-In” (or kick-in if the coach desires), over the goal line, with a “Goal-Kick” if attacking team last touched the ball; or “Corner-Kick” if defending team last touched the ball (goal-kick is taken from anywhere in the goalkeeper handling zone; corner kicks are taken from where the goal line and sideline meet).
  • After a goal is scored, restart the game with a goal-kick. Goals cannot be scored directly from a goal-kick, directly from a throw-in, or directly from a free-kick.
  • There are no penalty kicks in small-sided soccer
  • If a foul throw-in is committed, the coach explains the correct method and let’s the offender retake the throw-in. Discretionary power is given to the referee if another foul throw-in is committed, but most times this should not be called to allow learning.
  • Because of the small field size, and the end-to-end nature of the game, the ball may go out-of-play frequently. Coaches should encourage parents to participate as “ball parents” to help the flow and enjoyment of the game. Players waiting on the sidelines should also be encouraged to help get the ball back in play quickly.
  • Practice sessions and games are no longer than 40 to 45 minutes. Because of this, parents are encouraged to stay for both practices and games and to participate in practice sessions.
  • All infringements (tripping, handling, etc.) give the other team an “Indirect Free-Kick”. There are no penalties (the “Indirect Free-Kick” encourages passing and cooperation).
  • All opposing players must be at least 5 yards from the ball on free-kicks, on corner-kicks, and on goal-kicks