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US Soccer PDI - The 4 v. 4 Small-Sided Game

US Soccer has established the following standards for play in the 4 v 4 Format at the 6U, 7U, and 8U age groups. The Player Development Philosophy behind these standards is the product of years of research and planning. The 4 v. 4 format is based on the cognitive stages of development of our youngest players. 

4 v. 4 Player Development Philosophy

1.     Coaches should have the age-appropriate coaching license. In Louisiana each coach is expected to obtain their US Soccer F-License.  This is an on-line course designed to teach coaches how to create a fun, activity-centered and age-appropriate soccer environment for 5-8 year old players. The F-License is a pre-requisite for all other US Soccer coaching licenses. The on-line course takes approximately 2 hours to complete. For more on Coaching Education and courses provided by US Soccer and US Youth Soccer through LSA.

2.     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

3.     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
  • Examples of flexibility
    • 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


4.     Results and standings should not be recorded. The entire focus of the coach, club, parents and program should be the performance of the players not the outcome of games or achievements of specific teams.

5.     Travel should be limited as much as possible.

6.     Players should not be participating in results-oriented events (tournaments, showcases, festivals, etc.)

7.     Remember that safety and fun are the top priorities so make adjustments as needed to ensure both are being promoted. 

4v4 Standards of Play
1.     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
2.     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
  • 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
3.     Referees
  • 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 judgment
  • Together, coaches and parents are expected to create and promote a fun and safe environment for the players