WAYS Micro Soccer
Frequently Asked Questions
What grades are affected by Micro soccer, and when?
The Micro soccer program applies to kindergarten, first and second grade players only. Third grade players are not affected. During the fall season, third graders play in an intramural, in-town 6v6 program and in the spring, they play in the BAYS (Boston Area Youth Soccer) travel league.
What’s the difference between kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade Micro soccer?
There are three main differences:
- There are four players per side for 2nd graders instead of three for kindergarten and 1st graders.
- The field is slightly larger for 2nd graders to accommodate the extra players.
Why is there no goalkeeper for the kindergarten, first and second graders?
Most important, we want new players’ first exposure to the game to be as positive as possible. The goalkeeper position has the most repercussions for mistakes (i.e., a goal is scored by the other team), and highest potential for negative feelings. Without a goalkeeper, more goals will be scored, increasing every player’s sense of accomplishment and self-esteem. As a corollary, an advanced player in goal often stops all shots, eliminating the positive experience of scoring for a team.
From a developmental perspective, goalkeeper is a difficult position to play for kindergarteners, 1st and 2nd graders. Spatial awareness is minimal at this age and players often lose track of the goal they’re defending. Also, gross motor skills to make consistently strong goal kicks are often lacking, leading to “cheap goals” by opposing players who have learned to “poach”. Eliminating the goalkeeper at this age avoids these potentially negative situations.
From the American Youth Soccer Association, children are “essentially self-oriented and only relate naturally to a friend or two, not to groups of six or more”. Consistent with this observation and with similar programs developed in Europe, three is the optimal number of players we want on a team at this age.
From a soccer perspective, three is also the fundamental tactical unit used in 11v11 soccer. By keeping the team size to three, we introduce the younger player to the triangle shape used in all forms of soccer, without the unnecessary complications of a fourth team member in goal.
Goal keeping is introduced for players entering third grade in the fall.
Why don't we use throw-ins in Micro soccer?
For the first and second grader, gross motor skills are just developing. To properly execute a throw-in requires a fair amount of coordination and technique. In the past, improper throw-ins slowed game play as the referee would give instructions on proper technique.
To keep the flow of the game going, and to free up more practice time for developing basic foot skills, this rule is best deferred until the third grade, where the skill can be acquired much more quickly.
My child is an advanced player. Won't Micro soccer hold him/her back?
The focus of player development through age 12 is skill development. These skills- passing, shooting, and ball control (dribbling, trapping, etc.) are critical to playing the game at a level different from “kick and chase”. To borrow an analogy from baseball, it makes no sense to teach 1st graders how to pull off a double play before they can throw and catch the baseball. Mastering these fundamental soccer skills takes years of playing.
The best way to develop these skills is to maximize the times that a player touches the ball. The math is simple: in Micro soccer there is one ball and six (or 8) players; in normal six a side soccer, there is one ball and 12 players. In Micro soccer, the kindergarten and first grade player will touch the ball twice as often as before. So the advanced player will benefit from Micro soccer as well as the less advanced player.
We have also implemented a “no consecutive goals rule”- this rule states that a player on a team cannot score consecutive goals for his team (unless his/her team is more than 2 goals behind). The rule is intended to increase the opportunity for success for all players, and to keep games competitive. It also challenges the advanced player to develop skills that help his/her team, for the sooner a teammate scores, the sooner he or she can try to score again. As an example, not only will this player be asked to pass, but this player will need to make good passes, ones that are easy for his/her teammates to control.
FYI, it is generally against WAYS policy to allow players to “play up” (play with an older age group). Exceptions might be made when age groups are combined, or when a few additional players are needed in order to field a team in an older age group. It is important to consider the social aspects of the game. Many players participate because they want to play with their friends. Younger players on an older team often don’t feel like they’re part of the team, leading to a negative feelings.
How is refereeing to be handled?
For Micro soccer, refereeing is to be handled by one of the team coaches. Rule enforcement will center on player safety, as game rules are to be “gently enforced”. The goal is to provide an emotionally and physically safe environment in which to play, where results are de-emphasized and players are allowed more freedom to play.
Are there any special coaching considerations for Micro soccer?
Until the players are accustomed to the new format, coaches will have to review rule changes, but the emphasis in practices should continue to be small sided games and fun activities that introduce fundamental skills. Coaches should also find Micro soccer simplifies positioning concepts. This is appropriate (and liberating!) when coaches understand that young children are just not ready to be taught formal soccer positioning.
WAYS will be holding special clinics for first and second grade coaches to review the small-soccer program details and organization, discuss coaching approaches, and address any other concerns coaches may have. Please check back on the web site for more information.
Last revised: 3/27/15