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U8 Games – Small sided games – Rules and Recommendations

US Soccer has mandated for its member associations, small-sided games as part of the Player Development Initiatives.  Youth players should practice and play in a match like environment that provides numerous opportunities to practice and repeat skills.  Small-sided games create the optimal learning environment for development. 

Children learn more with a smaller coach to player ratio.  Small sided games maximize ball contact, involvement in the game, goal scoring opportunities, attacking and defending play, maximizes decision making opportunities and makes for more excitement and fun.


Game Requirements

• Size 3 ball

• 4v4 or 5v5 (This can be flexible based on number of kids at the game.  If only 3 players from one team show up, then play 3v3 or mix the players up to create even teams.  The goal is to give kids the opportunity to play.

• Shin guards are required.

• Substitutions typically made each quarter but may be done at play stoppage if player needs to be substituted.

·        All players should have the opportunity to play ¾ of the game before any player plays the full game. 

• Games will have 2 equal halves of 20 minutes each (8U), with water/substitution breaks on the quarter(10 min)

• Half time shall be a minimum of 5 minutes and a maximum of 10 minutes.

• Kick off(start of play or after a goal is scored), free kicks (fouls), goal kicks(ball out of bounds on the endline by attacking team) and corner kicks (ball out of bounds on endline by defending team) are used to start or restart play.

• Throw-ins used to restart when ball leaves the field on the sideline. Team who did touch ball last before it went out of bounds gets the throw. At this age layers are learning throw ins. Proper throw ins include throwing the ball from over the head with both hands without either foot leaving the ground.  If player does not doit properly, let them have another try.

• Goal kicks and corner kicks should be taken in the general vicinity of the respective goal or corner.

• If used, all free kicks are indirect.

• Opponents should be behind the build out line on goal kicks. Opponents should be 5 yards away from the ball on all other restarts. 

• No penalty kicks.

• No offside.

• Referees are not required at this level. Coaches or a parent will be on the field to “referee” or guide the game

• Since there is no referee, coaches are expected to manage the game environment from the touchline or on the field using the standards of play and their best judgement.  Coaches will agree on how this will be accomplished. One coach/volunteer may referee the entire game, coaches/volunteers may take turns per quarter/half or coaches/volunteers might both be on one half of the field to guide their players.

• Together, coaches and parents are expected to create and promote a fun and safe environment for the players

Tierrasanta Futbol Academy - SAY Soccer San Diego

10601 Tierrasanta Blvd Suite G, # 360
San Diego, California 92124
Phone : 619-736-4273
Email : [email protected]
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