English soccer goes kid-friendly

June 16, 2012 3 Comments »
English soccer goes kid-friendly

Recent changes in Canadian youth sports that promote children’s physical literacy are starting to happen in other countries.

The motherland of soccer, England, is making sweeping changes to kids’ “football”. The English Football Association (FA, for short) is officially backing a switch to small-sided mini games for kids, with an emphasis on developing skills and technique in childhood.

For England, this is huge news. It’s been one of the last soccer nations still making kids play like adults.

Among the new changes, seven and eight-year-olds will start playing five-a-side games on smaller fields instead of the traditional eleven-a-side adult game.

Most soccer experts and top professional coaches such as Arsene Wenger agree that small-sided soccer and skills development are the key to developing good players.

The Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) officially endorsed mini soccer for kids in 2007 with the release of Wellness to World Cup [PDF]. Meanwhile, leading soccer nations such as the Netherlands have been playing small-sided soccer and emphasizing skills over winning for decades.

And the Netherlands have consistently outperformed England at the international level for years, despite having only one-third of the population.

Are you a soccer mom or dad? Are your kids playing on smaller fields? Tells us what that experience is like for them, and for you. Are they having fun? Have you noticed that they are developing soccer skills?

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3 Comments

  1. superreggie June 19, 2012 at 11:33 pm - Reply

    I love the idea of the 5 a side for kids. Playing 11 a side is insanity. Might as well be mud-wrestling…

  2. Lynn October 5, 2012 at 7:01 pm - Reply

    The small sided games are such a great idea for “like minded players”. However less confident children are not excelling when grouped with confident and very coordinated children. You can reduce the “ball hogging” when you have like minded players on a field.

  3. Blaine Kyllo
    Blaine Kyllo October 9, 2012 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    The other way to reduce “ball hogging”, Lynn, is to make sure that every kid has a ball. The more they touch a ball, the better their skill development – and confidence.

What do you think?