Under 6 – Micro Soccer
Micro-soccer started to gain popularity about ten years ago and has been used in Europe for many years. There are no goalies and no “positions” with the main emphasis on teaching proper kicking techniques, general concepts of soccer and general rules of the game. The playing field is smaller and uses pug goals.
Small sided games offer a much better experience for children. It allows for more touches on the ball, more opportunities to make decisions, more actual play. Each player learns offense and defense and to transition between the two roles. The children are placed on teams of ten players, both boys and girls. They will have a coach and an assistant coach.
While the team practices together, the games are played by splitting the players into two 5-player teams. The games are played simultaneously right next to each other with coaches from both teams on the field with the kids at all times to enable them to provide instruction. There are no referees, the coaches act as such.
The teams play 3 vs 3 with the other players substituting in.
Games consist of four, 8 minute quarters with a 5 minute break in between (10 minutes for half time). This allows plenty of opportunity for coaching and instruction. There is a lot of play time and the kids learn simple soccer skills like throw-ins, kicking techniques, shooting a goal, running the right direction, etc.
Almost every child will make at least one goal during the season…very ego boosting! This division practices once a week usually for one hour and all games are played at Bob McEvoy Youth Fields each Saturday during the fall season and on Sundays during the spring season. This division requires a size 3 ball.
Children in this division cannot be six years of age before August 1st and must be at least four years of age. The majority of the children in this age bracket will be kindergartners and pre-schoolers.
This division plays eight on eight and each team fields a goalie. There will be a center referee scheduled for each game. Off-sides will only be called for obvious cherry-picking situations. The games are played just like a regular game except for the smaller field sizes and smaller teams.
Positions are taught and corner kicks are utilized. Greater emphasis is placed on correct throw in techniques and rules. Teams will typically practice once a week for about 1 ½ hours and play at Bob McEvoy Field. The under 8 division requires a size three ball. Scores are kept although standings are not used.
Players are assigned to teams by the registrar (with input from coaches and board members) with all efforts being made to provide equally balanced teams. This division will also field an All Star team at the end of the fall season.
Children in the under eight division should be six years old and cannot be eight years old by August 1 of the seasonal year.
This division continues to play 8 v. 8 with a goalie but on a larger field than used in the U8 division. More emphasis is placed on offsides and penalties are called more stringently. Teams may practice twice a week at this level. Players are selected by coaches in a draft format. Scores are kept but standings are not used. This division requires a size 4 ball. This division will field an All-Star team at the end of the fall season.
Children in the under ten division should be eight years old and cannot be ten years old by August 1 of the seasonal year.
Under 12, Under 14 and Under 16
The players now move into a full size field and play 11 v 11. Games will be played against teams from other leagues. Depending on the coach, most teams will practice twice a week for 1 ½ -2 hours. The players will work on passing skills and game strategy at this level. There will be a center referee scheduled for each game. Games become more physical and standings will be kept.
All home games are played at Crown Point Elementary School or Bayview Terrace Elementary School and teams will travel. Under twelve players require a size four ball and Under 14 and 16 require a size five.
Players in under 12 should be 10 years old and cannot be 12 years old by August 1 of the seasonal year. Players in under 14 should be 12 years old and cannot be 14 years old by August 1 of the seasonal year.
Players in under 16 should be 14 years old and cannot be 16 years old by August 1 of the seasonal year.
How We Form Our Teams
Cal South, our governing body, precludes the use of try outs or team assessments as a means of balancing teams. Moreover, with over 800 players for our fall season, individual evaluations would be very difficult and time consuming. Thus, team selection is based on a variety of factors. After registration, a selection committee meets to make the teams in the U6 and U8 divisions. U10 and older divisions are selected by the coaches using a traditional draft format.
The selection committee uses numerous criteria to place players on teams with the ultimate goal of having as much parity and balance as possible. The selection committee looks at player/coach requests (no guarantee such requests will be granted), rankings of players where that information is available, number of seasons of experience, grade level, school, and neighborhood. No particular criterion is more important than the other with the exception of the rankings as those are usually the strongest indicia of skill level that we can use to guide us in our selections. We try to ensure that each team has the same allocation of #1 ranked players, similar numbers of older or experienced players, similar number of new players, etc. We also try to put players with at least one other kid from their school or neighborhood to help facilitate carpooling.
At the end of each season, we ask the coaches to rank all players using a simple 1-2-3 ranking system. A #1 ranked player is considered All-Star caliber level (e.g. a player nominated for All Stars even if not selected should be given a #1 ranking). A #2 ranking is usually the most common designation as it reflects a player that meets most of the skill levels expected of that particular division. A #3 ranking is for players who have not yet obtained the average skill level for their division. These are ONLY used as a tool to help us select balanced teams in the following season.
Despite our best efforts, there are several reasons why our system will never be 100% successful in achieving a balanced division:
- We may not have rankings for many of the players and those unrated players may turn out to be exceptional. This lack of rankings is attributable to (a) a significant numbers of new players who register each season or (b) because coaches fail to provide rankings in the preceding season.
- The rankings we receive may be inaccurate because (a) the system is inherently subjective, (b) coaches fail to use the same criteria to rank their players as other coaches use despite a very easy and simple ranking system; (c) coaches have been known to manipulate rankings of their players to disguise their abilities and give them an unfair advantage at the draft (it’s unfortunate, but it is a reality that we cannot overlook), or (d) more typically the performance of the player changes from season to season (e.g. – a player with an early growth spurt may not be as large or speedy the following season; a player that was shy her first season may come out strong the next or a player ranked #1 in U8 will not necessarily translate to a #1 ranking as a U10 player).
- The coaches at the draft may not select the best team available. This sometimes occurs because a coach overlooks the need for competitive balance, instead preferring to draft a team of friends and neighbors rather than building the most competitive team possible.
- After the draft or selection process is complete, other circumstances may occur which destroy the balance created at the draft or during team placement, including (a) some players drop out after the draft due to relocation or disappointment at not being put on the team of their choice; (b) there are occasional late registrations that are added after the draft or team placement which would impact the balance of the team, or (c) some teams will start pre-season training earlier, or hold more weekly practices, and that can greatly affect the team’s performance during the season.
And so although PYSL strives to create balanced teams, there are usually one or two teams that appear “stacked” to the other teams in the division. PYSL believes that even if a team does not have the player parity of other teams, the players can still have an enjoyable and successful season learning soccer with the right coaching and parent attitude that places the emphasis on development and not wins or losses.