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Why isn't my young child's team playing 'real' Soccer (i.e. 11 a side)?Printable

A commonly asked question (and a good one) for those new to the program and some folks new from out of our area. To answer it requires a bit of a philosophical discussion, so please bear with us.

The Basic Philosophy

NYSA believes that for soccer players to develop, enjoy themselves, and to learn to appreciate the game they must "touch" the ball many, many times. This is certainly a theme in the Coaching Clinics and has become a more and more accepted philosophy in the soccer community.

"Real soccer" is being practiced when players are actively involved in playing the ball during match conditions, without regard to how many players are on the field.

This approach certainly includes practice where it is best if players are involved in plenty of activity (minimal time spent in "lines" waiting for their "turn"), but NYSA does not believe it appropriate to restrict the "many touches" to just practices.

The Maturation Process

There have also been plenty of published papers documenting the ability for young players (6, 7, 8 years old) to play cooperatively in groups. Essentially, these papers suggest that very young people have difficulty working in large groups. They have difficulty understanding why it is important for them to pass the ball (they are still generally in the "me first" stage at these young ages).

As players simply get older, the individual is more willing to work cooperatively in groups. This, of course, extends far beyond the soccer field, but that is a discussion for another day...

Why Mod Soccer?

NYSA has tried to find the best combination regarding the trend toward small sided games and the published papers on group dynamics and matching it to what we think is best for the youth in our area. As a result, players at the very beginning ages play in games with 3-a-side. As they age, the teams "grow" into 4-a-side, 7-a-side, 9-a-side, and finally full 11-a-side. Games with less than 11-a-side are called Mod Soccer (for "modified" soccer).

This allows the young player to not only touch the ball many times during practices, but also during games. NYSA does NOT believe 11 a side soccer for 8 year olds on a full size field is beneficial to the players. We have plenty of documented situations where a young player participating in a 11 a side game might participate in multiple games before ever touching the ball during a game. This, we believe, is detrimental to the young player's spirit and enjoyment of the game.

Does it work?

While it is difficult to get any large group of people to 100% agree on anything, we believe that the players that grow through the small sided game approach are better developed, enjoy the game more, learn to work together more fluidly, and appreciate soccer more.

From our point of view, this means that YES, Mod Soccer does work!

How to find out more

The NYSA development program and rules associated with the Mod Soccer program are under the supervision of the Director of Coaching and Player Development. If you have additional questions about Mod Soccer, the philosophy behind it, or would like to assist with this program's growth, please contact your Club's VP of Development (if your club has one) or the Director of Coaching and Player Development, CoachingDirector@northshoresoccer.org.

Updated March 2016