The "Small-Sided" environment continues in the U-8 program where a FUN environment focuses on the young soccer players. US Youth Soccer sites the following educational benefits:
Because we want our young soccer players to touch the soccer ball more often and become more skillful with it! (Individual technical development)
Because we want our young soccer players to make more quality decisions during the game! (Tactical development)
Because we want our young soccer players to be more physically efficient in the field space in which they are playing! (Reduced field size)
Because we want our young soccer players to have more involved playing time in the game! (More opportunity to solve problems that only the game presents)
Because we want our young soccer players to have more opportunities to play on both sides of the ball! (More exposure to attacking and defending situations)
Because we want our young soccer players to have more opportunities to score goals and make saves! (Pure excitement)
All ages can play “Small Sided Games,” but it has a definite developmental impact on our younger soccer players. This has to do with the stages of development that all children go through. As children progress through these stages, their intellect gro grows, they mature physically and they get emotionally stronger.
Six and seven year olds (U8 players) are still little people but are maturing and have better balance and agility. They begin to experience success technically and will share the ball a bit with a teammate or teammates. Numbers on the field must be small so that they can have the ball a lot. This allows them to practice their newly learned skills in an uncluttered environment. They begin to enjoy playing soccer!
The U-8 program includes a group for boys (U8B) and a group for girls (U8G). There is an intramural coordinator for each group. Teams of 8-10 children are formed, with an assigned head coach and 1-2 assistants. The number of teams, size of teams, and variations to program are driven by the number of coach volunteers HYSA has.
Each team has a one-hour practice during the week and a game on Saturday. Typically the boys' games are scheduled for Saturday mornings and the girls' games are in the afternoon. The program runs for 10 weeks.
The game includes two 20 minute halves and a five-minute intermission. The game is 4v4 with no goalkeepers. A size 3 ball is used. There is no offsides and there is unlimited substitutions, made during any goal kick and a team's throw-ins. Depending on the number of participants, the program may provide for a "duel field method" by which two games are run in parallel to allow for play per child. The intramural coordinator for the group will work with the coaches to apply the best format. Intramural referees officiate the game. The referees have completed a Grade 9 License class. Players wear the reversible intramural shirt, which you can obtain from HYSA for $20. Players must wear shin-guards, soccer socks and cleats.