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Myth #1 - It’s not “real” soccer

Children want four things from games and sports:

  1. Action

  2. Involvement

  3. Excitement

  4. Friendships

Children cannot get these when their opportunities to participate in meaningful ways are negated by an adult-imposed format.

On playing 11 a side, Michels says, “We won,” but so what, when (s)he touched the ball three times today. Our responsibility is DEVELOPMENT. So we must play 4 v 4 and 7 v 7 with plenty of time and space – to learn combinations, skills, awareness, and “smartness.”

Rinus Michels, Dutch Master Coach.


“As a kid you need to touch the ball as much as you can. You should always be with the ball. You should have a feeling that wherever the ball is, you can do anything with it. No matter where it is, where it is on your body, how it’s spinning, how it’s coming at you, the speed it’s coming at you, anything……….”

Landon Donovan



Benefits of Short Sided Soccer vs. 11 a side Soccer

Players touch the ball five times more in four-a-side football and twice as much in seven-sided games.

Players are involved in three times as many one-on-one situations in four-a-side football and twice as many in seven-sided games.

On average, in four-a-side football goals are scored every two minutes and every four minutes in seven-sided games.

Goalkeepers make two to four times as many saves in seven-a-side football than they do in 11-a-side.

The ball is out of play for eight per cent of the playing time in four-a-side football, 14 per cent of the playing time in seven-sided games and 34 per cent in 11-a-side football.


In small-sided games each player:

  1. Plays the whole game

  2. Receives the ball on a regular basis

  3. Tries to score all the time

  4. Has the freedom to play

  5. Receives encouragement at all times from instructors

  6. Receives support from parents and instructors


It’s All About Touches and Opportunities


Numbers Don’t Lie!

4v4 vs 8v8

Passes: +135% or 585 more passes in 4v4 games


Shots Taken: +260% or 481 more shots in 4v4 games


Goals Scored: +500% or 301 more goals in 4v4 games


1v1’s: +225% or 525 more 1v1’s in 4v4 games


Tricks, Turns and Moves: +280% or 436 more tricks, turns, and moves


These data were collected in a 2002-2003 study conducted for Manchester United Football Club by Dr. Rick Fernoglio, a lecturer in Exercise Science at Manchester Metropolitan University. Fifteen (15) 4v4 and 8v8 games were videotaped and analyzed for the study. This study was reported on page 6 of the March 2004 edition of Success in Soccer magazine.