From the FA website:
The principles and rules of Mini-Soccer are similar to those in Association Football, except that the pitches are smaller and there are fewer players on each team.
First introduced in the 1990s, the popularity of Mini-Soccer has led to continued growth over the years.
Depending on the age group, the number of players and size of pitch can vary from four-a-side for the youngest, to seven-a-side for the under 10s. The goal size for all age groups is 12ft by 6ft (3.6m by 1.8m).
- More touches of the ball to increase participation and enjoyment
- Fewer players on the pitch meaning simpler decisions and better understanding
- Smaller piches meaning greater concentration and interest among participants
- More individual success leads to more children playing. In the long term, this leads to sustained participation levels beyond this age group
Mini-Soccer: The Best Introduction to the World’s Greatest Game
September 1999 saw the implementation of Mini-Soccer for all children under 10 years of age.
As a result of nearly three years consultation and co-operation between all bodies involved with children’s football, boys and girls are now introduced to the game on smaller pitches with scaled down goal posts and fewer players.
In attempting to provide quality experiences for all young players at all levels, The Football Association deems Mini-Soccer the most appropriate and fun introduction to football.
It allows greater involvement in the game, with more touches, dribbles and passes.
Mini-Soccer: Meeting the Needs of Children
“The Children are more important than the activities in which they are engaged. The game is not the thing, the child is. Physical Education for ages 5-16 (Department of Education and Science, August 1991).”
The main theme throughout Mini-Soccer is to meet the needs of children. Eleven-a-side association football does not meet those needs. We need a modified game that fits the needs of children: too often children are modified to meet the requirements of a game. Mini-Soccer modifies association football without losing the essence of the game.
Mini-Soccer is the appropriate introduction to football. All available research and observation shows that children will have more fun and learn more playing a game with smaller teams and modified rules. Mini-Soccer is, therefore, a game children can actually play rather than struggling to understand a game created for adults.
If children are to enjoy and take part in soccer they need to:
Take an active part in the game
Learn to play as a team
Understand the Laws
Develop soccer skills
Be able to take part whatever their ability
Mini-Soccer sets out to meet those needs. It is a game which has been modified from 11-a-side association football which keeps all the major features of the game, while allowing children to succeed and take part in something that is still recognizable as football.
Mini-Soccer recognises the fact that younger children perform better in smaller teams with simple Laws. It also sets out to give children fun.
Mini-Soccer, however, is more than another version of 5-or 6-a-side football for the following reasons:
It recognises that children do not perform as adults and therefore its Laws, researched and piloted by The Football Association, meet the needs of children.
It has all the features of ‘real’ football to children.
It doesn’t set unrealistic expectations. Many adults do not know what can be expected of children and so emphasise the result at the expense of performance. Mini-Soccer helps by defining the targets for children at different ages.
It sets a standard and a framework for behavior on and off the pitch.
Mini-Soccer is for all youngsters regardless of their ability. It is intended for girls and boys, and young footballers with disabilities and learning difficulties.
In an age when so much of children’s leisure time is as organised as their study, Mini-Soccer offers something special: a game that children can organise themselves! With relatively little instruction children can play and enjoy a game which is suitable for a wide ability range and gives everyone a chance to take part.
If you find this hard to believe, just set up a game with some children and WATCH!