Sunday, 14 Apr 2024

Five Things You Should Know About Small-Sided Standards in Youth Soccer

Starting August 1, 2017, youth soccer in the United States will undergo significant changes with the implementation of Player Development Initiatives (PDIs). One of the key components of these PDIs is the introduction of new standards for small-sided games. In this article, we will explore five things you need to know about these new regulations and how they will impact youth soccer.

What are small-sided standards?

Small-sided standards refer to youth games played with fewer than 11 players on each team. This format ensures that players are constantly involved in the action, providing them with more opportunities to touch the ball and develop their skills. In addition to a reduced number of players, small-sided games also utilize smaller fields, goals, and balls, as well as shorter game times and modified rules, all aimed at optimizing the game for younger players.

PDI field

Fewer Players, More Development

With fewer players on the field, each player has a greater opportunity to play more meaningful minutes. They will be actively involved in the game, both with and without the ball, which enhances their learning and improvement. Small-sided games promote crucial skills such as reading the game and decision-making, qualities that are essential for player development. These new standards also cater to the specific physiological needs of each age group. By implementing consistent standards nationwide, U.S. Soccer aims to provide a level playing field for all players and better support parents, coaches, referees, and clubs in their educational efforts.

Tham Khảo Thêm:  7 Essentials for a Successful Soccer Practice

What ages will this affect?

PDIs will impact youth players ranging from six years old and under (U-6) to twelve years old and under (U-12), with different standards for each age group.

Small-Sided Games Chart - 2017 U.S. Soccer Player Development Initiatives

National Standards, Local Implementation

Small-sided game standards will be implemented by all U.S. Soccer youth member organizations, including state associations, U.S. Youth Soccer, U.S. Club Soccer, AYSO, SAY, and others. Local organizations will play a crucial role in ensuring the uniformity of youth soccer across the country by adhering to these national standards.

Additional Changes

Aside from the number of players and modified field dimensions, small-sided games will also introduce some different rules. Starting at the U-9 level, games will incorporate build-out lines. These lines, drawn horizontally from sideline to sideline, 14 yards in front of each goal, encourage possession and playing the ball out from the back. When a goalkeeper has the ball in hand or takes a goal kick, the opposing team must remain behind the build-out line until the ball is in play. The build-out line also determines where offside can be called, as teams cannot be penalized for offside between the midfield and build-out line. Additionally, small-sided standards prohibit headers, punts, and drop kicks from the goalkeeper.

Furthermore, PDIs include guidelines on travel restrictions for youth teams, recommended participation in events, and the recording of results. The initiatives also outline suggested formations for 7v7 and 9v9 games.


Q: Where can I find more information about PDIs and their impact on youth soccer?

Tham Khảo Thêm:  Enhance Your Soccer Skills with At-Home Training

A: You can find more information about PDIs on the official website of Pesstatsdatabase.

Q: How will these changes affect the development of young players?

A: These changes aim to enhance player development by providing more meaningful playing time, increased involvement in the game, and optimized conditions for skill development.

Q: Are there any additional changes in the pipeline for youth soccer?

A: PDIs encompass a comprehensive set of changes, including small-sided game standards, but there may be further updates or adjustments in the future as youth soccer continues to evolve.


The introduction of small-sided standards in youth soccer represents a significant shift in the way the game is played and developed in the United States. These changes aim to create a more engaging and beneficial experience for young players, providing them with increased involvement, more touches on the ball, and a level playing field for development. By implementing consistent standards nationwide, U.S. Soccer endeavors to support the growth and advancement of youth soccer.