Junior Division (U6)
The objective of gameplay in the junior division is to introduce more structural elements of a soccer game to the participants. Similar to the micro division, the primary focus of the game is still to promote participation, develop spatial awareness of a bounded playing area, and to promote as many opportunities for touches on the ball as possible for each participant. Passing joins the set of foundational skills such as dribbling and challenging/winning the ball as a primary skill that is stressed during game play.
- Small-sided field (50 feet x 80 feet)
- Goals (4feet x 6 feet)
- 4 or 5 players on the field at a time for each team depending on team sizes
Rules of Play
- Substitutions may be made at any time, at the coaches discretion.
- Stop play if players use their hands to pick up or handle the ball. Have the players on the team who handled the ball retreat back from the ball 10 feet. Restart the play with a free kick by the opposing team.
- Stop play immediately if any participant is knocked down or falls in a crowded space and ensure the child is alright. Restart the play by having all participants back away from the ball and drop the ball to any player on the field.
- Stop play immediately if a participant is playing in a dangerous manner or pushes another participant. Either coach may address the dangerous play or pushing immediately. Restart the play by having all participants back away from the ball and drop the ball to any player on the field.
- Do not stop play for the ball going slightly out-of-bounds so long as it can be quickly brought back into the field of play by the children or the coach
- Stop play if the ball is played significantly out of bounds. Restart the play with a kick-in awarded to the opposing team from the one who played the ball out. The kick in should be taken from the spot on the touchline or end line closest to where it exited the field.
- No goalies are permitted at this age group. Discourage participants from standing in the goal mouth and acting as a goalie, even if they are not using their hands.
- No heading the ball is permitted.
Advice to Coaches
- Coaches should not be simply standing on the sideline. It is encouraged to be close to the player on the field to be able to stop play when necessary but also help control situations. For example, a 'scrum' of children may become dangerous, and the coach can tap the ball away from the crowd and get the play moving again.
- Scores should not be kept or discussed with the participants, but accomplishments such as scoring, passing, controlling the pall, or making good decisions should be celebrated and encouraged.
- Lopsided scoring will happen at this age group. At the beginning of the game, coaches should allow players the opportunity to demonstrate their growing ability and skill and some players or teams may initially socre quickly. If one or two individual players are controlling the play after the first ten minutes of the game, then coaches should communicate with one another about how to challenge the skilled plaayers as well as how to involve the other participants to a greater extent. This includes:
- Coaches making skilled players dribble around them on their way to the goal as an obstacle. (Do not actively take the ball from participants but divert them away from the goal while encouraging them to dribble past the coach.)
- Give skilled players challenges such as dribbling to a cone placed in the corner before they can score, or asking them to pass to a teammate in front of the goal.
- Restrict the area a skilled player can move in to their own half of the field.
- Require a skilled player to use their weaker foot to dribble or shoot.
- It is impossible for every player to score a goal every game, but it is possible for all participants to score at some point. Involve yourself in the later stages of a game to attempting to 'assist' players on both teams who rarely score either by directing a ball towards them, or use substitutions to give other players a 'head-start' towards the goal.
- The goal is not for one team or the other to win, but for all the participants to enjoy the game.