Soccer is considered to be one of the most famous sports games among young people nowadays and small-sided games are an integral part of this kind of sport. This kind of soccer seems to be rather interesting and sometimes weird. Nevertheless, it has many advantages.
To start with, small-sides games are “soccer games with fewer players competing on a smaller sized field” (Small-Sided Games Resources). This means that there are from 3 to 11 players sharing one ball. Small-sided games appeared in the 1960s and were destined for better training and skills development. The founders of small-sided games claim that due to a small number of players on the field the participants have more chances of meeting the ball and practicing their playing skills. Players have more opportunities for tactical development, individual teaching, intensive involvement, and scoring goals.
Of course, the game rules have some peculiarities. For instance, in U12 the Field of Play dimensions are smaller, due to the number of players and movement capabilities of ten-eleven-year-olds. The size of the ball is that of 4, for it is lighter and allows children to play freely. The players are required to take more decisions for they have more contacts with the ball during the game. The number of players in the preteen sector reaches one player less than the number required on the field. The small-sided game match duration is 30 minutes long and the goal score is confirmed to FIFA. The ball can be punted to the full length of the field, and it cannot be thrown directly into the area of the opponent. Until the ball is kicked, the defending players must keep away from it in the area of the radius of the center circle. These and several more rules for the small-sided games control the process of playing and allow reaching the best results.
According to FIFA, the rules of soccer concern basic points: field, ball, players, referee, assistant referee, and the match duration. Thus, the field requirements presuppose natural or artificial surfaces of the green color. The field should be rectangular, marked with boundary lines. Then, the ball must be spherical, made of leather, not less than 70 cm in circumference, about 450 gr in weight. In the case when the ball defects during the match, it should be replaced. In such a case, the match is stopped until a new ball is given, and if the ball defected during a penalty kick, the kick is retaken.
The number of players is from 5 to 11. The number of players’ substitutions is unlimited, but no substitutions for corner kicks are allowed. The substituted players can re-enter the game. Any player is allowed to play for the team of their own bracket, but they can also play for another team. Nevertheless, a player is allowed to play only one game per day. If there is a strong need for a player in another team, the case is solved only under the guidance of the referee. Still, during the tournaments, the players’ borrowing is not allowed. Besides, in the case of a player’s injury only the injured can be substituted, and again the substitution is done only after the referee’s approval. The referee controls the game and allows substitution or fines. Referees are certified by NCYSA/NCSRA. Then, the assistant referee is a volunteer who reports of the cases when the ball is out, but for U12 a certified referee assistant is desirable. The match duration rules differ according to the age group: U6 – 8 minute quarters, U8 – 10-minute quarters, U10 – 25-minute halves, U12 – 30-minutes halves, U14 – 35-minutes halves. Thus, the modifications to the FIFA rules are accepted by Community Soccer Directors for Arcadia, Ledford, Midway, and Welcome Athletic Associations and the North Davidson Soccer League. Undoubtedly, only when all the rules are followed thoroughly can the game be really enjoyable and develop the professional level of the players.