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Western United Soccer Club

Western United Soccer Club

Rules/Tips for 4-5 Year Olds

Click here to see the Official USYS Small-Sided Rules.

Here are the highlights:
1) We play 4 vs 4.  We do not have goal keepers, so please remind your players not to stand in front the goal.
2) We play 8 minute quarters with a 2 minute break between the 1 & 2nd and 3 & 4th.  There is a 5 minute halftime break.  Please try to keep on time - especially if you are the first game of the day!
3) Slide tackling is NOT allowed!
4) Heading is not allowed.
5) You and the other coach are the refs.  I recommend you stop play if there is an infraction. (Especially when one player intentionally knocks down another player.  Boys tend to be more aggressive than girls and will not think twice about using their arms to push their way to the ball.)  In these cases explain the penalty to all the kids and offer a free kick from the spot of the foul and let play continue.
6) NEW!! - Based on the recommendation from USYS (parent of NCYSA), both teams must move to their half of the field during a goal kick.  This allows the kicking team to begin an attack rather than have to play defensively on a goal kick.  Once the ball is touched, players are free to move anywhere on the field.  The goal kick may be taken prior to the other team retreating, if the kicking team chooses to.
7) In the event of lightning and/or thunder all practice and play must be stopped immediately and the field cleared! After a 30 minute period without any lightning or thunder, play/practice may resume.

Here are some tips:
1) Kids may not be ready for throw-ins during the first or second game.  That's ok.  You can use a free kick instead if needed.  Kids should be able to perform throw-ins after the first couple games.  Do-overs are allowed and encouraged throughout the season when an improper throw-in is performed.  At this age, kids should not attempt running throw ins.  Teach them to stand still and throw the ball over their head.
2) Player safety is your primary concern as a coach.  Your second concern is that they have fun!
3) Each player should play about the same amount of time in each game.  I found it difficult to keep track of this during a game, so I would come up with a substitution plan before each game.  But don't be afraid to modify it if the game is a blow out.

4)  I recommend you use a parent on the sideline to keep time.  Ask them to let you know when 6 minutes has passed and at the end of the quarter.  Then, the next time the ball goes out of play, you can make your substitutions.  The clock generally does not stop when the ball goes out of play.  If there is a significant delay due to injury or fetching a ball out of play, you can add some time to the quarter, but please be respectful that there may be up to 2 more games that need use the field after you and need to start on time.

5)  If one team is scoring all the goals, the other team may add a player to the field help balance the competition and keep the game more enjoyable for everyone.  NCYSA's recommendation is that a player may be added when a team is down by 3 goals.  If that team scores and is only down by 2 goals, the extra player would have to leave the field.  Since we don't "keep score," you don't have to follow that exactly, but it is a good guideline to think about when it might be appropriate.  Coaches of teams that are up by 2 or 3 goals need to also look at what they can do with their lineups to give other players an opportunity and keep the game more fun for everyone.  Remember, there are no win/loss or goal statistics kept.

6)  Talk to the opposing coach before the game and pick a quarter (or half of a quarter based on my comment 1 above) to put all of your (and their) least skilled players on the field at the same time.  It will give them the opportunity to step up to a role that they may not get to experience when the stronger players are on the field.  It also lets them watch what happens when all the strongest players play together after the substitutions.  Remember, we don't keep score or stats, so the most important part is that the kids learn and have fun.

7)  Remember, you and the other coach are working as a team.  Work together to do what will create the best learning environment for the kids.  If you have questions about the rules and what is appropriate at this age, start with the other coach and if still unsure, feel free to ask another coach, board member, or myself.

8)  If anyone gets a skinned knee or bump or bruise, there are first aid kits in the shed with ice packs, band-aids, etc.


If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask for help - either from another coach or from anyone else affiliated with WUSC.  We're all working together to help our kids have a great community soccer club.
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