Monday, September 27, 2010

Youth Soccer: Field Size Matters

The size of a soccer field can have an impact on the outcome of the game.

My daughter plays U10 elite soccer. In this area, elite soccer is played 6 v 6 on fields 40 yards wide by 60 yards long. There is a loop hole in the rules that says if a club cannot provide a field of the recommended size then the field size may reasonably vary. What does reasonably mean?

Game 134

On Sunday, my daughter had an away game. The game was suppose to be played on a grass field. The field that was prepared for the game was much smaller than recommended for league play at about 30 yards wide by 50 yards long. The smaller field benefits more physical teams. Our coach complained that the the field did not meet the standards. He was trying to get the game played on an adjacent field that was regulation size. The opposing coach saw an opportunity and asked if our team wanted to play on the turf field. Our coach accepted thinking that the girls would benefit from the experience. What he did not know at the time of the decision was that the field is 60 yards by 90 yards. This size field benefits teams who are fast and physically fit and teams with lots of subs.

I believe that the coach of the other team selected the small field to control the game with his physical players, but changed strategies when he saw that we only had one sub. He seized the opportunity to move up to the turf where his team would have an advantage because they practice on turf and because they had two more subs than our team had.

Our team controlled the entire game but could not score. The passing lanes were too long to execute the team's normal passing combinations and our team was two tired to make the long runs necessary to score. My daughter played goalie and only touched the ball twice. Most of the game she stood bored 60 yards from any action at all.

She played goalie for the entire game because her ankle is still black and blue and purple and green from her injury last week.

Lonely goalie on a field too large for 6 v 6

From the official league rules


Size: The field size shall be forty (40) yards wide by sixty (60) yards long. However, the ability of each club to dedicate fields of various sizes for the various ages is not the same, so the field size may reasonably vary from the preceding.
Center circle: Radius of the center circle shall be eight (8) yards.
Corner arc: The corner arc shall be a quarter arc having a one (1) yard radius.
Penalty area: The penalty area shall extend twelve (12) yards along the goal line from the inside of each goalpost, so it shall be thirty (30) yards wide, and shall extend twelve (12) yards into the field from the goal line.
Penalty mark: The penalty mark shall be midpoint between the goalposts, eight (8) yards from the goal line. An arc of a circle having a radius of eight (8) yards from the penalty mark shall be drawn outside the penalty area.
Goal area: The goal area shall extend six (6) yards along the goal line from the inside of each goalpost, so it shall be forty two (18) yards wide, and shall extend six (6) yards into the field from the goal line.
Goals: Goals shall be eighteen (18) feet wide and six (6) feet in height. However, if goals of that size are not available, larger ones may be used.

The Main Point

There's a lot of strategy and gamesmanship in the game of soccer. Good coaches will take advantage of the field and field conditions to create an advantage. My coaching mentor gave me some great advice one day. He told me to survey the field before the game. He told me to walk the entire field and look for areas that have holes or rough ground. He had me look for areas that maybe down or uphill. He said to look for puddles and determine if the wind and sun will play a role. He told me that soccer is a game typically won and lost by one goal that happens in a few seconds of action. He said know the field and its physical features and then use the knowledge to your advantage because it just might impact those few seconds of action that make a difference.

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