Youth Soccer Continues Its Evolution: What Does It Mean to Facilities?

Next year, the world of youth soccer will continue its evolution as all members of U.S. Soccer will begin to transition on two key factors to encourage further youth development. The first change will be the nationwide adoption of Small-Sided Games and the second will be a shift from school-year to calendar year for the age grouping of teams.

“With these initiatives, we’re more likely to have players better prepared down the road,” said Tab Ramos, U.S. Youth Technical Director and U-20 Men’s National Team head coach. “With small-sided standards, what we’re trying to do is to help players develop by putting them in an environment where they are constantly involved in the play.”

While the age groupings will not impact the sports construction industry, there is potential for business because of Small-Sided Games.

Small-Sided Games: Small-Sided Games will be mandated come August of 2017, with specific changes occurring in regard to alterations to the field size, goals and rules. The result will be a decrease in 11-vs-11 competitions in lieu of more 9-vs-9 and 7-vs-7 competitions. U.S. Soccer will encourage the adoption of Small-Sided Games best practices in August of 2016. US Youth Soccer has been encouraging Small-Sided Games for more than 20 years and most of the 55 member State Associations have adopted the philosophy during that time.

The benefits of Small-Sided Games for players include more fun, more touches on the ball and more tactical decisions. The style of play will allow players to learn different positions, learn tactics quicker, increase fitness and allow players to be more emotionally and socially involved — creating a more fun and enjoyable game.

“What we’re trying to do is to help players develop by putting them in an environment where they are constantly involved in the play,” Ramos said. “That could be with the ball and that could be without the ball, but when you make things small-sided, everyone is somehow involved in the play, whether that’s in defending, in cutting angles, in cutting the ball back, you’re always in the play.”

Field builders may be called upon for different sizes of facilities, or to mark fields for Small-Sided Games. Full information and diagrams can be found below:

Small-Sided Games FAQ: [Download PDF]
Small-Sides Games USSF Standards Chart: [Download PDF]

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