How did you arrive at the numbers, it sounds arbitrary to me?|
How did you arrive at the numbers, it sounds arbitrary to me?
TOM TURNER, OYSAN Director of Coaching, Region II Head Coach, USSF National Coaching Staff
In 1985, the Dutch Soccer Association (KNVB) became the first soccer country to formally implement small-sided games at the youth level as a means of combating the demise of street soccer. Rinus Michels, in his excellent book, Teambuilding: The Road to Success outlines the guidelines for coaching every age group between five and professional, including the justification and purpose of their small-sided playing structure in relation to total player development. While the Dutch use no games (5), 4v4 (6-8), 7v7 (9-10), 11v11(11 and older) as their progression, Michels clearly states that their choice of game forms was somewhat arbitrary and that other playing numbers could have been selected. Ultimately, the selection of game forms was made on the basis of Dutch players working with Dutch coaches in a Dutch soccer environment. It should also be remembered that the FIFA birth date of January 1 means that Dutch players (and most soccer countries outside of the USA) are generally older, by as much as eight months, than their American "peers."
In the United States, a different soccer and sports culture, and a different coaching dynamic impacted the decision on playing numbers, with the players' ability to create and use space as a key element in the decision to choose 6v6 as the maximum playing number for U-10's. At the entry levels, games of 3v3 (U-6) and 4v4 (U-7/8) are designed to allow players freedom to play with the ball and express themselves more fully, while at the U-11/12 level, it was felt that one more year of small-sided play (fewer than 11v11) was more appropriate for the physical and tactical development of the American player. It was also noted that players who are exceptional young talents can and should be moved up to the level that matches their soccer abilities.