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Player Development Initiatives

Haverhill Youth Soccer follows the development philosophy and playing standards set forth by US Soccer's Player Development Initiatives (PDI). The following is an outline of each of the various playing formats used throughout our programs. If you have any questions about these PDI, please feel free to contact the Director of Soccer Development.

  • Develop improved skills with the ball.
    • Improve confidence and comfort.
  • Develop intelligence with and without the ball.
    • Promote faster decisions and better awareness.
  • Develop partnerships within the team.
  • Provide an age appropriate environment.
    • Standards align with physiological needs of players based on year of birth.
  • Uniformity across the country and across membership.
    • Having consistent standards allows US Soccer, and the programs of our members, to provide more meaningful messaging and education for parents, players, coaches and referees.

The following pertain to all Pre-School, Grade KG, Grade 1 and Grade 2 groups.

Player Development Philosophy

  • Coaches should have the age appropriate license issued by US Soccer.
  • Formal games are not needed so playing with and against teammates at the end of each training session (1-2 per week) should be sufficient.
  • Formal rosters and teams are not needed so having a flexible and fluid approach to training and playing is recommended.
    • While playing, everyone should participate a minimum of 50% of the time.
    • With 4 players on the field, having 6 players on each “team” when the “game” is played helps maximize participation and engagement.
  • Here are some examples of having a flexible and fluid approach to training and playing:
    • Utilize “in-house” programs that have everyone train and play as a pool of players rather than as distinct teams.
    • This approach allows players to train and play with a variety of other kids based on numbers, ability, age, height, weight, etc..
    • If using teams with a set roster of players, players can be mixed up during the game at the end of the training session to provide variety.
  • Results and standings should not be recorded.
  • Travel should be limited as much as possible.
  • Players should not be participating in events (tournaments, showcases, festivals, etc.).
  • Remember that safety and fun are the top priorities so make adjustments as needed to ensure both are being promoted.

Concussion Initiative

  • Per US Soccer's Concussion Initiative, if a player is suspected to have a head injury the referee* is instructed to stop play to allow for treatment/evaluation as needed.
  • If the player leaves the field of play for additional evaluation, a substitution can be made in that moment.
  • The player with the suspected head injury may not return to the game unless a Health Care Professional (HCP) or Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) has cleared the player.
  • Any coach or parent insisting on returning the player to the game without approved\clearance will result in the referee* ending the game.
  • Heading is not allowed in 4v4 games.
  • If a player heads the ball in a game, whether deliberately or accidentally, an indirect free kick should be awarded to the opposing team from the spot of the offense.
  • In a controlled and individual environment (where heading is an isolated skill being taught away from any form of opposition or other aspects of the game), the use of lightweight balls (foam, balloon, etc.) would be acceptable for teaching heading technique.

* Since there is no referee in 4v4, this responsibility falls to the coaches and parents involved.

Standards of Play

  • Field
    • 25-35 yards (length).
    • 15-25 yards (width).
    • Goals should be no larger than 4 feet (height) x 6 feet (width).
    • Corner flags are not needed.
  • Games
    • Size 3 ball.
    • 4v4 (no goalkeepers).
    • Shin guards are required.
    • Substitutions are unlimited and can occur at any time.
    • 4 quarters.
    • No more than 10 minute quarters.
    • 5 minute breaks between quarters.
    • Playing times can be less than 10 minutes when managed by the coaches and parents.
    • Kick offs, free kicks, throw-ins, goal kicks and corner kicks are used to start or restart play.
    • Kick-ins and/or dribble-ins are also acceptable as restarts when the ball has gone out over the sidelines.
    • Goal kicks and corner kicks should be taken in the general vicinity of the respective goal or corner.
    • If used, all free kicks are indirect.
    • Opponents should be 10 feet away from the ball on all restarts.
    • No penalty kicks.
    • No offside.
    • Registered and certified referees are not needed at this level.
    • Since there is no referee, coaches are expected to manage the game environment from the touchline using these standards of play and their best judgement.
    • Together, coaches and parents are expected to create and promote a fun and safe environment for the players.

The following pertain to all Grade 3/4 teams.

Player Development Philosophy

  • Coaches should have the age appropriate license issued by US Soccer.
  • The training-to-game ratio should be 2-3 training sessions per game played.
  • Rosters should include no more than 12 players.
  • Players should participate in no more than 20 games per calendar year and in no more than one game per day.
  • Every player should play a minimum of 50% of the time in each game.
  • Results and standings should not be recorded.
  • Players should have a minimum of 2 rest days per week during the season along with planned breaks from organized soccer during the calendar year.
  • Any travel should be limited to no more than an hour away.
  • Events (tournaments, showcases, festivals, etc.) should provide a predetermined number of games with no advancement, placement games or champions.

Concussion Initiative

  • Per US Soccer's Concussion Initiative, if a player is suspected to have a head injury the referee is instructed to stop play to allow for treatment/evaluation as needed.
  • If the player leaves the field of play for additional evaluation, a substitution can be made in that moment.
  • The player with the suspected head injury may not return to the game unless a Health Care Professional (HCP) or Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) has cleared the player.
  • Any coach or parent insisting on returning the player to the game without approved\clearance will result in the referee ending the game.
  • Heading is not allowed in 7v7 games.
  • If a player heads the ball in a game, whether deliberately or accidentally, an indirect free kick should be awarded to the opposing team from the spot of the offense.
  • If a header occurs within the goal area, the indirect free kick should be taken on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the nearest point to where the infringement occurred.
  • In a controlled and individual environment (where heading is an isolated skill being taught away from any form of opposition or other aspects of the game), the use of lightweight balls (foam, balloon, etc.) would be acceptable for teaching heading technique.

Build Out Line

  • The build out line promotes playing the ball out of the back in a less pressured setting.
  • When the goalkeeper has the ball in his or her hands during play from the opponent, the opposing team must move behind the build out line until the ball is put into play.
  • Once the opposing team is behind the build out line, the goalkeeper can pass, throw or roll the ball into play (punts and drop kicks are not allowed).
  • After the ball is put into play by the goalkeeper, the opposing team can cross the build out line and play resumes as normal.
  • The opposing team must also move behind the build out line prior to a goal kick and may only cross the build out line once the ball has left the penalty area.
  • If a goalkeeper punts or drop kicks the ball, an indirect free kick should be awarded to the opposing team from the spot of the offense.
  • If the punt or drop kick occurs within the goal area, the indirect free kick should be taken on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the nearest point to where the infringement occurred.
  • The build out line will also be used to denote where offside offenses can be called.
  • Players cannot be penalized for an offside offense between the halfway line and the build out line.
  • Players can be penalized for an offside offense between the build out line and goal line.

Build Out Line Practical Applications

  • Ideally, the goalkeeper will wait to put the ball into play once all opponents are past the build out line.
  • However, the goalkeeper can put the ball into play sooner but he or she does so accepting the positioning of the opponents and the consequences of how play resumes.
  • To support the intent of the development rule, coaches and referees should be mindful of any intentional delays being caused by opponents not retreating in a timely manner or encroaching over the build out line prior to the ball being put into play.
  • Coaches are responsible for addressing these types of issues with their players.
  • Referees can manage the situation with misconduct if deemed appropriate.
  • Referees should be flexible when enforcing the 6 second rule and counting the time of possession should only begin when all opponents have moved behind the build out line.

Modified Laws of the Game

  • Law 1 - Field of Play
    • 55-65 yards (length).
    • 35-45 yards (width).
    • Goals should be no larger than 6.5 feet (height) x 18.5 feet (width).
    • A 6.5 feet (height) x 12 feet (width) goal is recommended based on the age and ability of the players.
    • Diagram contains recommended field markings and dimensions.
    • Build out lines should be equidistant between the penalty area line and halfway line.
    7v7 Field Setup
  • Law 2 – Ball
    • Size 4.
  • Law 3 – Players
    • v7 (6 field players and 1 goalkeeper).
    • Game may not start or continue if there are less than 5 players on a team.
    • Substitutions are unlimited and can occur at any stoppage.
  • Law 5 – Referee
    • Minimum certification as a US Soccer Grade 9 Referee.
  • Law 6 – Other Match Officials
    • Used at the discretion of the competition authority.
  • Law 7 – Duration of the Match
    • 2 halves.
    • 25 minutes halves.
    • 10 minute halftime.
    • No added time.

Standard Laws of the Game

  • Law 4 – Players' Equipment
  • Law 8 – Start and Restart of Play
  • Law 9 – Ball In and Out of Play
  • Law 10 – Method of Scoring
  • Law 11 – Offside
  • Law 12 – Fouls and Misconduct
    • With the exception of deliberate heading and punting.
  • Law 13 – Free Kicks
  • Law 14 – Penalty Kick
  • Law 15 – Throw-in
  • Law 16 – Goal Kick
  • Law 17 – Corner kick

The following pertain to all Grade 5/6 teams.

Player Development Philosophy

  • Coaches should have the age appropriate license issued by US Soccer.
  • The training-to-game ratio should be 2-3 training sessions per game played.
  • Rosters should include no more than 16 players.
  • Players should participate in no more than 30 games per calendar year and in no more than one game per day.
  • Every player should play a minimum of 50% of the time in each game.
  • Results and standings should not be recorded.
  • Players should have a minimum of 2 rest days per week during the season along with planned breaks from organized soccer during the calendar year.
  • Any travel should be limited to day trips with limited allowances for overnight stays.
  • Events (ex: tournaments, showcases, festivals, etc.) should provide a predetermined number of games with no advancement, placement games or champions.

Concussion Initiative

  • Per US Soccer's Concussion Initiative, if a player is suspected to have a head injury the referee is instructed to stop play to allow for treatment/evaluation as needed.
  • If the player leaves the field of play for additional evaluation, a substitution can be made in that moment.
  • The player with the suspected head injury may not return to the game unless a Health Care Professional (HCP) or Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) has cleared the player.
  • Any coach or parent insisting on returning the player to the game without approved\clearance will result in the referee ending the game.
  • Heading is not allowed in 9v9 games in U11 play.
  • If a player heads the ball in U11 play, whether deliberately or accidentally, an indirect free kick should be awarded to the opposing team from the spot of the offense.
  • If a header occurs within the goal area, the indirect free kick should be taken on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the nearest point to where the infringement occurred.
  • In a controlled and individual environment (where heading is an isolated skill being taught away from any form of opposition or other aspects of the game), the use of lightweight balls (foam, balloon, etc.) would be acceptable for teaching heading technique.

Modified Laws of the Game

  • Law 1 - Field of Play
    • 70-80 yards (length).
    • 45-55 yards (width).
    • Goals should be no larger than 7 feet (height) x 21 feet (width).
    • A 6.5 feet (height) x 18.5 feet (width) goal is recommended based on the age and ability of the players.
    • Diagram contains recommended field markings and dimensions.
    9v9 Field of Play
  • Law 2 – Ball
    • Size 4.
  • Law 3 – Players
    • 9v9 (8 field players and 1 goalkeeper).
    • Game may not start or continue if there are less than 6 players on a team.
    • Substitutions are unlimited and can occur at any stoppage.
  • Law 5 – Referee
    • Minimum certification as a US Soccer Grade 9 Referee.
  • Law 6 – Other Match Officials
    • Used at the discretion of the competition authority.
  • Law 7 – Duration of the Match
    • 2 halves.
    • 30 minutes halves.
    • 10 minute halftime.
    • No added time.

Standard Laws of the Game

  • Law 4 – Players' Equipment
  • Law 8 – Start and Restart of Play
  • Law 9 – Ball In and Out of Play
  • Law 10 – Method of Scoring
  • Law 11 – Offside
  • Law 12 – Fouls and Misconduct
    • With the exception of deliberate heading in U11 games.
  • Law 13 – Free Kicks
  • Law 14 – Penalty Kick
  • Law 15 – Throw-in
  • Law 16 – Goal Kick
  • Law 17 – Corner kick