U5-U6 Small Sided Recreation
U5-U6 Small-Sided Recreation Playing Recommendations
The following was taken from the Small-Sided Games Resource Center of the US Youth Soccer website, www.usyouthsoccer.org.

Information listed in RED indicates an exception to the USYS recommendations, adopted by NCYSA through the Recreation Council.

This page updated August 2005


Revised April 12, 2005

US Youth Soccer Official Under 6 Playing Recommendations
NCYSA Includes Under 5 Within Under 6 Recommendations

US Youth Soccer recommended modifications to the FIFA Laws of the Game. FIFA Laws of the Game can be found at www.ussoccer.com/referees.

Please note the U6 addendum and appendix.

Law 1 The Field of Play

Dimensions: The field of play must be rectangular. The length of the touchline must be greater than the length of the goal line.

Length: minimum 20 yards maximum 30 yards

Width: minimum 15 yards maximum 25 yards

Field Markings: Distinctive lines not more than (5) inches wide. The field of play is divided into two halves by a halfway line. The center mark is indicated at the midpoint of the halfway line. A circle with a radius of four (4) yards is marked around it.

The Goal Area: none

The Penalty Area: none.

Flagposts: none.

The Corner Arc: Conform to FIFA.

Goals: Goals must be placed on the center of each goal line. They consist of two upright posts equidistant from the corners and joined at the top by a horizontal crossbar. The recommended distance between the posts is eighteen (18) feet and the distance from the lower edge of the crossbar to the ground is six (6) feet. Goals may be smaller in


Law 2 The Ball

Size three (3).

Law 3 The Number of Players

A match is played by two teams, each consisting of not more than three players. There are NO goalkeepers.

Substitutions: At any stoppage of play and unlimited.

Playing time: Each player SHALL play a minimum of 50% of the total playing time.

Teams and matches may be coed.

Law 4 The Players' Equipment

Conform to FIFA. Non-uniform clothing is allowed based on weather conditions, but uniforms must still distinguish teams.

Law 5 The Referee

An OFFICIAL (Game Manager or Coordinator or Parent or Coach or Grade 9 referee) may be used. All infringements shall be briefly explained to the offending player.

Law 6 The Assistant Referees


Law 7 The Duration of the Match

The match shall be divided into four (4) equal, eight (8) minute quarters. There shall be a two (2) minute break between quarters one and two and another two (2) minute break between quarters three and four. There shall

be a half-time interval of five (5) minutes.

Law 8 The Start and Restart of Play

Conform to FIFA, with the exception of the opponents of the team taking the kick-off are at least four (4) yards from the ball until it is in play.

Law 9 The Ball In and Out of Play

Conform to FIFA.

Law 10 The Method of Scoring

Conform to FIFA.

Law 11 Offside


Law 12 Fouls and Misconduct

Conform to FIFA with the exception that all fouls shall result in a direct free kick. The referee/coach/parent must explain ALL infringements to the offending player. No cards shown for misconduct.

Law 13 Free Kicks

Conform to FIFA with the exceptions that all kicks are direct and all opponents are at least four (4) yards from the ball until it is in play.

Law 14 The Penalty Kick


Law 15 The Kick-In

A kick-in is considered as a direct free kick with the opponents four (4) yards from the ball until it is in play.

Law 16 The Goal Kick

The goal kick should be taken within 2-3 yards of the goal line anywhere across the width of the field of play at the nearest point from where the ball was retrieved. Opposing players must be four (4) yards away from the ball until it is in play.

Law 17 The Corner Kick

Conform to FIFA with the exception that opponents remain at least four (4) yards from the ball until it is in play.


NCYSA Includes Under 5 Within Under 6 Recommendations

Law 1 The Field of Play dimensions are smaller to accommodate the three-versus-three game and are appropriate for the movement capabilities of four- and five-year-old children. These adjusted dimensions provide more practical

space allowing players to be successful.

Field Markings: the center circle gives the players a concrete marking on where to be for the kick-off. The corner arc gives the young player a concrete place to put the ball to kick it back onto the field of play. While kids this young will not execute corner kick plays taking a kick from the corner is a reasonable way for them to put the ball into play and provides continuity with all other age groups. However, the center circle and the corner arc for U6 Small Sided Games are not mandatory field markings. Cones may be used in lieu of corner flag posts if desired. Neither cones nor corner flag posts to mark the corners of the field are mandatory for this age group.

Goals: the goal, 6 x 18 feet or smaller, is the same for the U6 to U8 age groups. By using the same size goal for these age groups clubs will have to buy fewer goals and there will be greater flexibility in the use of fields. A big goal

without a goalkeeper should mean a few more goals for kids whose shooting technique is primitive along with their eye-foot coordination. Let's give them the broad side of the barn at which to shoot, the more goals the merrier. Finally the shooting odds for the U6 age group are one versus five, so let's give them a chance by having a larger target. However, manufactured goals are not mandatory for U6 Small Sided Games. Clubs are free to use cones, pop-up goals or other items to designate the goal for this age group. Any goal must be properly anchored to the ground.

Law 2 The Ball: must be a size three. The smaller ball is lighter and more easily kicked, received, dribbled and passed.

Law 3 The Number of Players: there are no goalkeepers in the U6 age group so that all of the players may chase the ball around the field. The kids want to be where the action is and at this age it is around the ball. This will

provide the opportunity for the children to further develop their running, jumping and kicking coordination. These are valuable traits for all soccer players to develop. The smaller number of players takes into account the egocentrism of this age group and therefore allows each child more opportunities for kicking and dribbling the ball. With fewer players on the field each child has an increased number of contacts with the ball and has more actual playing time. Additionally the players will be required to make more decisions and experience repeated game situations frequently. The work rate and involvement of players will be more consistent. While learning both offense and defense, players will become well rounded and will understand more readily the roles and importance of teammates. There should not be a minimum number of players for U8 and U6 and clubs, administrators, coaches and referees should be encouraged to allow players from the team with sufficient numbers to ‘loan' a player or two to the team that is short players and then PLAY.

Law 5 The Referee: a referee is not really needed for this age group. Instead a parent or a coach should officiate the game for safety sake. All rule infringements shall be briefly explained to the offending player. 'Do-overs' should be a regular occurrence allowed by the adult(s) supervising the U6 game. It is strongly recommended that the adult officiating the U6 game attend the Grade 9 referee course.

Law 6 The Assistant Referees: none are needed.

Law 7 The Duration of the Match: the game is divided into four quarters. Clubs may make the quarters shorter in duration if necessary. Quarters are played in the U6 age group to accommodate the attention span and physical

limitations of the children.

Law 10 Goal Scored: shall conform to FIFA.

Law 11 Offside: there shall be no offside called during these games.

Law 12 Fouls and Misconduct: no caution or send off shall be issued to players. If a child is being too rambunctious then the game official will ask the coach to make a substitution of that player to give the child a chance to calm down before returning to play.

Law 13 Free Kicks: all free kicks shall be direct. This will keep the game flowing and keep the attention of the kids.

Law 14 The Penalty Kick: there will not be any penalty kicks called.

Law 15 The Kick-In: most U6 players do not yet have the eye-hand coordination to execute a throw-in to the letter of the law. This leads to endless retakes from one team to the other. Additionally with a kick-in the ball is on the ground and stationary so the U6 player has a better chance of striking it correctly. This may lead to some intentional passes. However, this is still unlikely given that whether it is a throw or a kick all of the kids on the field will be yelling for the ball at the same time and the child putting the ball into play will be confused.

Law 16 The Goal Kick: the kick should be allowed to be taken from anywhere along the goal line over which the ball traveled. This is so the ball can be put back into play quickly. The ball should be placed two or three yards into the field of play to make it easier for the child taking the goal kick to get the ball well into the field of play once it is kicked. The defending players must stand at least four yards away from the ball until it is in play.

Law 17 The Corner Kick: per FIFA. The defending players must stand at least four yards away from the ball until it is in play.

US Youth Soccer Recommendations
* Opposing coaches, players and parents should shake hands after each match.
* Parent/coaches, non-participating players and spectators should be there to enjoy and encourage the activity of the youngsters.
* No alcoholic beverages or tobacco products will be consumed or allowed near the playing area.
* Spectator and team benches should be on opposite sides of the field.
* No slide tackles to be allowed in this age group.
* Coaches of U5/U6 teams should attend the U6/U8 Youth Module coaching course and the Grade 9 referee course.