A non-profit organization located in Stow, MA. Offering fun and enriching soccer opportunities for children of all ages!

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Stow Soccer Club

Game Format Overview and Frequently Asked Questions

---------- Grade 1/2 SOCCER FORMAT----------

Introducing 4 v 4

The international soccer community has embraced a small-sided games approach. The advantages to a small-sided games approach are compelling:

  • Increases the number of ball contacts-fewer players and reduced space;

  • Increases player concentration as the ball is close at all times;

  • Improves fitness-lively and dynamic tempo;

  • Creates better awareness and greater player flexibility-all play offense and defense;

  • Provides more realistic challenges-limited number of players in restricted space creates game-like conditions;

  • The game itself creates soccer techniques so players can improve and enjoy playing the game;

  • Develops skill-increases the frequency of 1 v 1 matchups;

  • A high number of goals are scored which makes it great fun for children. Rules are simplified, emphasizes imaginative play;

  • Promotes growth and appreciation for the game of soccer;  

Number of Players:

2 teams of 4 players.

A Goalie or a player 'stationed' in front of the goal is NOT allowed.

The defending team has the right to protect their goal when the ball is in their 1/3 of the field. No player should stand on the goal line at any time, or stay permanently within a few feet of the goal during the entire game.  Warnings should be provided to players and/or coaches should this be noted during the game.  

Playing Field:

30-40yds x 20-30yds;

Our fields will be 90 feet wide by 105 feet long.  The Goal Kick Line will be at 27 feet from the end line.  Each goal is approximately 6 feet wide.  There is also a 3-foot crease that radiates from the center of the goal line. (Creases aren't to scale).



Duration of Game:

At the discretion of the Referee and/or Coaches one of the following:

Two 25-minute halves 5-minute break at half)

Game Description:

Game begins with the ball being played from the center. (no off-side in 4v4)


Goals can only be scored from inside the attacking half of the field.


Following a goal or at the beginning of a half, the ball is restarted from the center line. The player starting with the ball may pass it in any direction but may not touch it again until another player touches the ball.  During the restart, please players from the opposing team must be outside the center circle, so that the offense has an opportunity to start the game.

When the ball is kicked out of play over the goal line (end line) by an offensive player, the ball is played "in" by defending team as a goal kick.
The goal kick shall be taken in the penalty area from anywhere in the penalty area midway between the goal line and the penalty line.  The ball is in play when it is kicked directly out of the penalty area. Opposing players are required to be in their defending half. The Kicking team needs to be outside the penalty area and the ball needs to completely roll over the line before the kicking team can play the ball.

When the ball is kicked out of play over the goal line (end line) by a defensive player, the ball is played "in" by offensive team as a corner.  The ball is placed at the corner of the end line and the offensive player kicks it in towards the goal.  The defending team should be 6 feet away.

When the ball is kicked out of play over one of the sidelines, it is a throw in by the team that didn't kick it out.  The ball must be thrown straight over the head of the player with both hands on the ball.  The players’ feet must also not leave the ground while doing the throw in.  If the player doesn't do it correctly, the referee can allow them to try again.


Can be made for any stoppage of play by either team. Simply get the referees attention and permission to substitute.


Opposing players shall be 6 yards from the ball on the kickoff, corner kicks, direct kicks, and indirect free Kicks. 

All soccer rules apply except No Heading, No slide tackling, No offsides and No Penalty Kicks.

Tripping, handling, kicking, charging, striking, holding etc can be dealt with by awarding a direct free kick.

- Indirect kicks by the offensive team due to a foul by the defense within the penalty area shall be taken from the point on the "Penalty Line" nearest the spot of the infraction. 

**The difference between an Indirect and Direct kick is that a goal can be scored by a Direct Kick and with an Indirect Free Kick, the ball must be touched by a second player before a goal can be scored.
- A drop ball due to an event within the penalty area shall be taken from the point on the "Penalty Line" nearest the spot of the infraction.
- For a defensive player in the crease, the restart is a corner kick.
- For an offensive player in the crease, the restart is a goal kick.
- Restart for a dead ball in the crease is a dropped ball 3 yds outside the crease to one side or the other. 



------------- FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS -------------

  • Why small-sided?

    • It makes the game of soccer a better experience for children with more touches on the ball, more opportunities to make decisions, more actual play.

    • It also enables more energetic workouts due to playing both attacking and defensive roles. While learning both offense and defense, a player will become more complete and will understand more readily the roles and importance of teammates.

    • There is more exposure to attacking and defending situations. There is more opportunity to solve problems that only the game can present. Players cannot hide or get lost in the small-sided environment.

    • It helps improve competitiveness & aggressiveness. The fewer players on the field, the opportunity a player will come in contact with the ball. In fact, players will find they have no choice; the ball will quickly find them!

    • The small-sided game allows coaches a perfect opportunity to observe and analyze the individual and collective responses of players under quick game-like conditions in a simple environment. It is easier to coach on a smaller field…easier to observe…parent coaches will be more successful.


  • Whose the modifications?

    • US Youth Soccer has been a proponent of small sided games since the 1980’s. Small sided games are endorsed by our national coaching committee, the State Directors of Coaching, US National Team Coaches for Men & Women, including many foreign soccer organizations: England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, France, Korea to name a few!


  • Why can’t they play 11v11 like "real" soccer?

    • The 11v11 format is the adult version of the game. Using an adult size field and goals is not conducive to skill development for children under the age of twelve.

    • Small sided game formats are in use all over the world- not just in the US.


  • How will they learn to play 11v11?

    • Progressing from 3v3, 4v4, 6v6, to 8v8 BEFORE 11v11 is a sound educational method. The problem is that young players were forced into 11v11 before their bodies were physically developed to play the adult version of the game. Any notion that players will be less prepared to play 11v11 is not justified.