AYSO Area 4U
Short Side Information
U-6 rules | U-8 rules | U-10 rules
Reprinted off of the national AYSO from INPLAY by Dave Cooper, a former RC (Regional Commissioner) and AD.
TRY IT, YOU'LL LIKE IT!
Many regions are reluctant to try short-sided games. Yes, it may take a few more volunteers to run the program. And yes, it might take a little more equipment. But it may not. And even if it does, once you try it, you'll find the rewards are worth it.
One region I know of was reluctant. But because AYSO National was recommending short-sided games, folks there decided to give it a try. Now they'll never go back. The coaches like it. The parents like it. And best of all, the kids like it!
One other thing: The region found it easier to recruit coaches with short-sided games. They actually had more people sign up than they needed. Sure, you still run into the die-hard saying, "A real soccer team is one with 11 players on the field." Well, that may be true in the pros, but we're talking about kids playing for fun, here. (And even in the pros, FIFA sanctions five-a-side tournaments.)
Kids simply have more fun with short-sided games. They have more time on the ball, in practices as well as in games. And the coach has fewer kids to teach, so the kids get more coaching.
This all makes it more fun for everyone. And isn't that what AYSO is all about? Do you need more coaches with short-sided games? Maybe. But with 15 kids on a team, you may need one or two assistant coaches to help at practice. If a coach has only seven kids on a team, it could be you don't need assistants at all. Now those "assistants" might be head coaches for other teams. Most coaches really enjoy working with the smaller groups.
Of course, if you really do need more coaches, there will be additional expenses: more people to train, more coach shirts (if you provide them)... But these are minor costs compared to the benefits.
Do you need more equipment with short-sided games? Maybe. One region's equipment director said he gives each coach a game ball, so with short-sided teams he'd need more soccer balls. But there are alternatives to that approach. Give the ball to the referee. Most regions have fewer refs than coaches. Some could give each ref one of each size ball, and still use fewer than they already give to coaches.
Another idea is to use "field boxes." These are set up at each field with balls and other equipment needed for games. This can save a region even more. By the way, you can try these ideas even if you don't go to short-sided games. Before saying "It won't work in my region," give it some thought. Look at the benefits. Think about how you can make it work. Then give it a chance. I bet your volunteers will like it. I guarantee the kids will.