FSC Small Sided Rules



Many coaches and professional clubs around the planet see the small-sided game as a great way to coach the techniques needed for the traditional games. Small-sided soccer lends itself to short one touch passes in triangles with the emphasis on movement as well as to ensure good movement in a confined space and this is imperative for player development. Players will find themselves more involved and receiving increased repetitions of all technical aspects of the game. The "Small-Sided" environment is a developmentally appropriate environment for our young soccer players. It is a FUN environment that focuses on the young soccer player.

Here are some of the reasons why we believe, as soccer coaches, administrators, and parents, that our young soccer players are best served playing small-sided games:


1. Because we want our young soccer players to touch the soccer ball more often and become more skillful with it! (Individual technical development)


2. Because we want our young soccer players to make more, less-complicated decisions during the game! (Tactical development)


3. Because we want our young soccer players to be more physically efficient in the field space they are playing in! (Reduced field size)


4. Because we want our young soccer players to have more individual teaching time with the coach! Fewer players on the field and fewer players on the team will guarantee this! (Need to feel worthy and need to feel important)


5. Because we want our young soccer players to have more, involved playing time in the game! (More opportunity to solve problems that only the game presents)


6. Because we want our young soccer players to have more opportunity to play on both sides of the ball! (More exposure to attacking and defending situations)


7. Because we want our young soccer players to have more opportunities to score goals! (Pure



8. Because we want to include children of all temperaments, assertive to shy, to have more opportunities to interact with others and the game! (Socialization)


Measurement of Success: We DO NOT measure success on winning and losing.


We emphasize FUN!


Focus on what went right instead of missed opportunities on the field.  Success is measured on an individual basis: Player Development, Player Enjoyment, and Character. We want all players to enjoy their time with Fairhope Soccer. However, we also want them to become better soccer players. Finally, most important: we want these players to exhibit Integrity, Character, and Sportsmanship.


We challenge the coaches to lead by example and to be a positive role model.


We also challenge the parents to support this philosophy and encourage developmental, character and sportsmanship. Please emphasize and focus on the development rather than the score.

Game Format

Ball Size



Kick In

Length of Quarter (minutes)

Coach Game Involvement



Size 4




12-minute quarters/ (4) quarters

On Bench


4 v 4

Size 3


Upon availability


10 min quarters/ (4) quarters

Both Can Run Field/ Ref unless Referee is assigned


4 v 4

Size 3




8 min quarters/ (4) quarters

Both Can Run Field/ Ref




Field Size: 40x25 Field with 4x6 goals; 4 yd goal box; 6yd circle

Ball Size: U6-U8: Size 3; U10-U12 Size 4; U13 & above Size 5

Number of Players:

· U6-U8 Teams-Roster size 6-8. Maximum number of players on the field per team at any one

time is four (4). There are no goalkeepers.

· U10-U12 Teams- Roster size 7-9. Maximum number of players on the field per team at any one

· time is five (5) including goalkeeper

Substitutions: Substitutions are unlimited and can occur at any time. If needed, can play 3v3 or 4v4 if not enough subs for game.


· U6--no referee-both coaches on field- Please use logic and discretion.

· U8--1 referee assigned; if no referee assigned coaches on field to facilitate play but not coach.

· U10-U12—1 referee assigned


· U6 Game---4 x 8 minutes quarters Coaches keep time if on field. No time stoppage at this age unless severe injury.

· U8 Game---4 x 10-minute quarters (2 minutes between quarters & 5 minutes between half)

· U10 & above Game---4 x 12-minute quarters (2 minutes between quarters & 5 minutes between half)

Set-up/Clean Up:

· First game @ Field: Each team is responsible for setting up their field is not already set. Move goal and bench in place.

· Clean up area between games—remove water bottles, trash etc before next game

· Last game @ Field: Move goals and benches off playing surfaces into the spaces between the fields.


· Kick offs, free kicks, kick-ins, goal kicks and corner kicks are used to start of start/restart play

· No throws-in—all players at this age will do kick ins (pass in)

· Goal kicks-players at mid-field

· All free kicks are indirect—Players must be 4 yds away from ball

· Offside: There are no offside

· Team will switch sides at half

· All quarters begin with kickoff

· Ball must completely cross line to be “out of play”. Ball is “in play” if any part of the ball is on or above the line.

· Scoring-No league standings


Safety: Follow COVID-19 Safety Guidelines until further notice.

Players must wear shin guards & soccer cleats. No football or baseball cleats. No jewelry, earrings (if new, have parent but band aids on ears) or hairbows/headbands.


Casts, guards, braces, etc. must be padded with a foam padding no less than 1/2 inch thick and securely covered. The referee must approve it. Players with injuries must have a medical release signed by a physician for each game played while injured. Have copies made, as the referee will need to keep a copy for each game.


Playing time: All recreational players are required to play at least 50% of each game for which they are present and physically able to play.


Sideline Behavior: Coaches and spectators should keep all comments positive and supportive of the players. Spectators should refrain from providing playing instructions to the players which should only be done by the coach. No referee abuse will be tolerated. Coaches may be cautioned or sent off by the referee for behavior in violation of the FSC Code of Conduct.


Post-Game Sportsmanship: COVID-19 Guidelines: All players, coaches & family members will refrain from handshakes, high fives, fist bumps, hugs etc.


Basic Soccer Rules:

Corner Kicks & Goal Kicks A corner kick or goal kick is taken when the ball leaves the field across the goal line – the end of the field. If the offensive team kicks it out, play is restarted with a goal kick. If the defensive team kicks it out, play is restarted with a corner kick.


The goal kick is taken from anywhere inside the “goal area box”. It can be taken by any player. The ball must leave the “Penalty Area” before anyone can touch the ball. If the ball does not leave the Penalty Area, then the kick must retake. The corner kick is taken from the corner nearest to where the ball left the field.


Fouls: The common rule of thumb on fouls is “If it looks like a foul, it probably is.” A player cannot kick, trip, jump at, charge, strike, push, hold, or spit at an opponent. Bumping, leaning or going shoulder-to-shoulder while competing for a ball is not a foul until the hands or elbows come up.


Direct and Indirect Free Kicks: The simple difference between the two is this: On a direct kick you can score by kicking the ball directly into the goal. On an indirect kick you cannot score.  An indirect kick must be touched by another player before it can go into the goal – that is the kicker and a second person. You can tell whether the kick is direct or indirect by looking at the referee. For an indirect kick, the referee will hold one arm straight up in the air until the second person touches the ball. No arm up or pointing towards the goal, it’s a direct kick. In general, a direct kick comes from a contact foul or hand ball. Everything else is indirect. 


Kickoff:  There is a kickoff beginning at each quarter.  All age groups will switch sides at quarter. Kickoffs can go directly backwards to a teammate.  **First kickoff is determined between game captains at start of game. We recommend Rock, Paper, and Scissors or Pick a number 1-10. 



Sidelines:  When a ball goes out of play on the sidelines, kick in to continue play.

End-lines:  If a ball goes out on the end-lines, play will restart with either a goal kick (from the end line) to the defending team, or a corner kick to the attacking team. (Depending on who was the last to touch the ball before it went out of play).

Indirect Kicks:  Restarts for out-of-bounds play and most fouls are indirect (meaning the player cannot shoot the ball directly into the opponent’s goal without the ball touching another player).

Direct Licks:  Corner kicks and penalties are direct (meaning the player can score directly without another player touching the ball).

Four Yards:  For all other restarts other than goal kicks (corner kicks, kickoffs, throw-ins, penalties) the other team must be 4 yards away from the ball before it is live again.

Handballs:  Coaches/referees will call a handball ONLY if it is blatant and deliberate. The game will restart at the point of the handball with an indirect kick.

Fouls:  If there is a blatant foul, coaches/referee should stop the game, explain to the player what the foul was and the other team will get an indirect kick.


Build OutIf the offensive team shoots and misses, etc. it’s a goal kick – the defensive team will then kick the goal kick from the back line placed in the general vicinity of their goal.  The offensive team must back it up to midfield (half-way mark) and may not cross back over until the defensive team kicks the ball and play is live again.  This is called “build out,” and the intent is to encourage the kids to learn to build plays/learn to pass without pressure.


Goal Box: An attacking player cannot touch the ball while it is in the box. If an attacking player touches the ball, a goal kick is awarded.  A defender may “sweep” through the box to protect the goal but only in an effort to kick the ball.  Neither the defensive nor the offensive team may hang out around the goal or goal box. Offense may not shoot from inside the box– the goal won’t count if originated from that location.  This goes for corner kicks as well.  No offensive players in the goal box!


No Cherry Picking:  A cherry picker is a child that is told to hang out around their offensive goal, ready to score if a ball gets loose.  Likewise, no child should be forced to be a permanent defender or goalie. Either way that child is removed from the experience of the game.  Short-sided games are meant to be high scoring and exciting for ALL players on the field. We want all players engaged and having fun!


Goals:  In order for a goal to stand, all attacking players of the team in possession must be making an effort to get to the opposing half 1: as the ball crosses the goal line or 2: as the players strikes the ball. In order for the goal to count, the ball has to be in the attacking half of field when the shot is taken.  If the shot is taken in the defending half, the goal will not count & restart with a goal kick.


Remember all aspects of the game should be positive. We are striving to facilitate an environment that is conducive to learning. Children will only attempt new things if they are confident and comfortable with themselves. Please support this concept help continue the development of these soccer player.

Contact Us

Contact Info

General Club Inquiry:

Mailing Address:
FSC PO Box 363
Montrose, AL 36559

Fairhope Soccer Complex:
18383 County Rd. 13
Fairhope, AL 36532 

Site Links

Follow Us