Small-sided soccer mandate kicks off

GreenFields weighs in on the latest U.S. Soccer Board directives.

New soccer mandate makes developmental progress the ultimate goal for players via small-sided play

Soccer is undergoing a big (and positive) change for players in America. New regulations were recently released by the U.S. Soccer Board that are designed to encourage the development of “skills, intelligence, creativity and confidence” in young players. The guidelines include new age grouping, as well as reduced field sizes that support small-sided play among kids twelve and under.

There are numerous benefits to small-sided play. Chief among them is the increased focus on skill development, moving away from the competitive emphasis often placed on kids at such a young age. Bourgeoning soccer enthusiasts are more likely to grow into stronger players as they share the field with fewer teammates, thus playing extra field positions and handling the ball more often. This also fosters faster decision-making and better awareness. Jim Froslid, Director of Business Development at GreenFields USA, emphasizes, “Players develop their skills more quickly when they touch the ball more often.” Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 11.51.19 PMHe noted that in a small-sided, one-hour game, a player may shoot the ball fifteen to twenty times, versus the two to four shots they might make in a full-sided match.

This small-sided initiative also shines a spotlight on the sport’s inherent merits that seek to encourage teamwork and give players confidence in ball possession. In addition, it taps into soccer’s history of spontaneous pickup games on small, vacant lots—no longer as common with the rising competition and “regimentation” of soccer by youth soccer clubs, according to Froslid.

The new guidelines have economical benefits for clubs, schools and municipalities, too. Froslid points out that small-sided fields “require less space, are easier to build and are more affordable” than full-sided fields. Organizations with larger spaces can create multiple fields, allowing them to host numerous games at once or generate rental revenue by hosting other private or city organizations that need a space to play.

As a global leader in synthetic turf systems and small-sided field innovation, GreenFields is a natural choice for organizations seeking to comply with the new mandate. From selecting the field size and turf type to adding walls, lights and even a roof, a GreenFields partnership provides the flexibility organizations need in order to find a field solution that suits their specific needs (and budgets). For more information on how GreenFields can help support your small-sided field project, please email