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 excitement)
  1. 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 & referees 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 Goalie Referee Kick In Length of Quarter (minutes) Coach Game Involvement


Size 4 Yes Yes Kick  

20-minute halves


On Bench


Size 4 No Yes Kick 12-minute quarters/ (4) quarters On Bench


Size 3 No Yes Kick 10-min quarters/ (4) quarters On Bench


Size 3 No No Kick 8-min quarters/ (4) quarters Both Can Run Field/ Ref


Field Size: U6-U10: 40x25; 4x6 white goals U13: 50x30; 7x14 Bownet Goal

Ball Size: U6-U8: Size 3; U10-U13 Size 4

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). No goalkeepers.
  • U10 Teams-Roster size 7-9. Maximum number of players on the field per team at any one time is four (4) No goalkeepers.
  • U13 Teams-Roster size 7-9. Maximum number of players on the field per team at any one time is five (5) including goalie. 4 field players & 1 goalie

Substitutions: Substitutions are unlimited and can occur at any time. If needed, can play 3v3 or 4v4 if not enough subs for game.  When substituting your players, make sure they go to mid-field line. They must wait for referee to call them onto the field.


  • U6 Coed-no referee assigned-both coaches on field-Please use logic and discretion. One coach keeps time & one coach will use the whistle. Use whistle (1 loud blow) @ start of game, out of bounds, kick-ins, fouls (explain to player what he/she did incorrectly) End of quarter—Double blow the whistle.
  • U8-1 referee assigned; if no referee assigned coaches on field to facilitate play but not coach.
  • U10-U13-1 referee assigned


  • U6 Game---4 x 8-minute 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 Game---4 x 12-minute quarters (2 minutes between quarters & 5 minutes between half)
  • U13 Game---2 x 20 minutes halves (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 must be at mid-field prior to kick
  • All free kicks are indirect—Players must be 4 yds away from ball
  • Offside: There are no offside
  • If teams are similar in color, away team (listed second) MUST wear pinnies.
  • Team will switch sides at half (U6 Coed—Use your judgement on switching sides)
  • All quarters begin with kickoff—kick off can be kicked forward, sideways or backwards to begin
  • 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.
  • If Goalkeeper, no punting the ball. Goalkeeper MUST wear pinnie.
  • Scoring-No league standings HAVE FUN!


  • Equipment: ALL players must wear socks over shin guards & soccer cleats. No football or baseball cleats.
  • Coaches: ALL registered volunteer coaches/assistants with Fairhope Soccer Club must have an up-to-date background check, complete Coach Safely & SafeSports certifications, as well attend Pre-season coach meeting.
  • Jewelry: This includes having all players remove jewelry which includes, earrings, hairbow with metal clips, rubber or cloth bracelets, watches, and necklaces (unless for religious and medical reason, necklace must be tape to chest under jersey).   Exception to rule: We will allow earrings to be taped with band aids if your player has recently had them pierced. Players will need to ready to play with earrings tape/band aids.Just like having shin guards and soccer cleats on before the start of the game, please have ALL jewelry removed.
  • 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.
  • Severe Weather Alert: Three (3) air horn blast means indicates ALL players & parents must immediately clear the fields & return to your car. We will continue to monitor weather for 30 minutes; a club broadcast email and text message alert will inform you either all clear to return or all soccer activities are canceled.

Playing Time: All youth soccer players must 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 and teams.

  • Spectators will set up chairs/blankets three (3) feet from the sideline &/or behind the spectator line. No spectators to be set up on sideline or behind the goal.
  • CHEER-DON’T STEER! Spectators will refrain from providing playing instructions “coaching” from the sideline.
  • No referee abuse will be tolerated. Coaches/spectators may be cautioned or sent off by the referee for behavior in violation of the FSC Code of Conduct.

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 half. Kickoff 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: Offensive players should not dwell in the defensive team’s goal box. A defensive player may “sweep” through the box to protect the goal but only to kick the ball.  Neither the defensive nor the offensive team may hang out around the goal or 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.