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Under-5 Guidelines


The objective of this program is to provide young players and their parents with a “pressure free” introduction to the beautiful and simple game of soccer. At this age, players should be exposed to soccer by playing simple, fun activities and games that require little to no practice, and a minimal time commitment.

This program allows players to discover the game for themselves, while parents are given a soccer foundation on which to build and grow into future AYSO coaches, referees and administrators.

The two goals of the program are: 1) to allow the players to enjoy the activities, and 2) to let the game be the teacher.


Jamboree is the combination of two different formats that, put together, will provide the best possible introduction to soccer for our youngest players. In AYSO Region 213, a "hybrid" jamboree program is used where teams of five (5) players are formed and assigned to a coach to work with the team on a weekly basis.

A "Master Coach" will lead each Saturday session. The Master Coach will introduce a game/activity that will practice a certain skill or part of the game using explanation and demonstration. Each "team" (5 players and an adult volunteer or coach) will then attempt the activity while the Master Coach circles between teams providing specific help or suggestions so that the activities are performed as intended. After a suitable amount of time, the Master Coach will bring the teams back together as a group and review what they have done and introduce the next activity.

Each Jamboree session will end with a 20 minute short-sided game (played with 3 players from each team or "3v3"). Details regarding the game are explained later. Most importantly, allow the players to play without coaching or teaching them as this experience is designed to expose them to soccer, not to begin developing them.

Master Coach

For the 2012 Membership Year (MY2012) Fall Season, AYSO Region 213 has contracted with AYSO Soccer Camps to provide the Master Coach(es). AYSO Region 213 has contracted with AYSO Soccer Camps because it is critical that the Master Coach follow the U-5 Program as stated in the U-5 Master Coach Manual. And, because the Master Coach is the key to a successful U-5 Program. The Master Coach should have a complete understanding of the AYSO National Coaching Program and full understanding that:

  • Young soccer players need special consideration
  • They are children playing a child’s game
  • These young children must be regarded as young children, not mini adults
  • Fun activity factors must be a central part of a child-centered program
  • Educators agree that early learning experiences are the most important and produce lifelong learning experiences
  • Under 5 players are essentially self oriented and relate naturally to one or two others, not to large groups
  • Most children cannot sustain prolonged activity
  • They function best in suitable starts and stops (rest periods)
  • Concentration span is limited, so frequent changes of pace and activity is essential
  • The young players should learn to discover the wonderful game of soccer, not be taught the game of soccer by adults
The Master Coach will take the lead in program implementation with the Region. It shall be the responsibility of each Section Director and Area Director to ensure that the AYSO U-5 Program guidelines are being followed in their respective sections and areas.

Session Schedule

Sessions should last one hour and fifteen minutes including organizing time and breaks – NO MORE.

10 minutes – group warm-up and activities
5 minutes – water break
20 minutes – training activities and games
10 minutes – team organizing and water break, assigning players to teams, assigning field locations
20 minutes – 3 v 3 game (played in two halves of 10 minutes each with a short beak at the quarter to make substitutions and get a quick drink)
5 minutes – half time
5 minutes –to make changes between quarters

During the game, one parent from each team should be selected to act as the game supervisors for the week. These parents should be required to keep the game going. All other parents should be encouraged to cheer positively and refrain from “coaching” (giving directions) from the sideline. This is the time for the kids to play – LET THEM!

3 v 3 Game Set-Up and Guidelines

Each player in the U-5 division receives the same uniform. And, the uniforms should be identical for all players -- the boys will have a different color than the girls. The team listed as the home team each week will put on the "vests" or "pinnies" before the game portion of the day begins.

The following guidelines include the only elements of the Laws of the Game that apply to the AYSO Short Sided Game Program for U-5:

The Field: The recommended field size for the U-5 games is 30 x 15 yards marked with lines or cones (see diagram in manual).
The Goals: The goals in U-5 games should be a maximum of 4 feet high and 6 feet wide or 2 tall cones set 6 feet apart.
The Ball: A size 3 ball is used for U-5 games.
The Teams: Each U-5 team should have a maximum of 5 on the roster. Games are played with 3 players per team on the field (3v3) and no goalkeepers. Substitutions are made at quarters, halftime and for injuries. A minimum of 2 quarters is required for each player and it is recommended that no one play 4 quarters until everyone has played 3 quarters. Separate boys and girls teams are recommended at all levels.
Player Equipment: Shoes and shinguards, covered by the socks, are mandatory at all practice and game activities. Soccer shoes, tennis shoes, or similar type athletic shoes are recommended. The type and condition of cleated shoes must be inspected for safety before use.
The Start of Play: To start the first and second halves, and following each goal in all age group games, play is started or restarted with a kick-off in the center of the field. A coin toss is used to determine which team kicks off to start the game and the other team kicks off to start the second half. Following a goal, the team scored upon kicks off.
The Kick-off: The kick-off is taken from the center of the field with each team in their own half and the team not kicking off at least 5 yards from the ball. Do not insist the opponent be a minimum of precisely 5 yards from the ball as this is just a guide to give the kicker room to kick the ball without it immediately hitting an opponent. Remember, let them play and do not interfere for technicalities.
Ball In and Out of Play: The ball is out of play in all age group games when it completely crosses the touch line (side line) or goal line (end line) either on the group or in the air. In U-5 games, the game supervisors for the week will determine when the ball is out of play and should guide the restart, interfering as little as possible. It is the player’s game, let them play and work on technique later.
Method of Scoring: A goal in all age group games is awarded when the ball completely crosses the goal line into the goal. Goals should be enthusiastically celebrated by everyone. In U-5 games, goals are not recorded to determine who wins as everyone is a winner.
Fouls and Other Stoppages: Deliberate fouling should be rare in U-5 games. Kicking, tripping, handling the ball and dangerous play may occur. There should be few, if any additional reasons to stop play in U-5 games. If a player is “not playing well with others”, or if play must be stopped for any other reason (injury, substitution, confusion, or to watch a passing train, butterfly or frog), refocus the players and begin again with a free kick or as may be appropriate. Award the restart to whichever team deserves it. Stoppages must not become a lengthy ceremony.
Free Kick: Play may have to be stopped occasionally to “sort things out” in U-5 games. When this is necessary, correct the situation then restart with a free kick for a deserving team. The opposing team should be at least 5 yards from the ball in U-5 games. All free kicks in U-5 games are direct free kicks which means, if you’re lucky, a goal can be scored directly from the kick without the ball having to be touched or played by another player on the field (indirect kick).
Throw in: When the ball goes out of play in U-5 games across the touch line (side lines) or the goal lines (end lines) without a goal being scored, a throw-in is awarded at the point it crossed the line. The throw-in is awarded to the team that didn’t touch the ball last. In U-5 games, whether the throw-in is properly taken or not, let it go...teach proper technique later. Again, let them play with minimum interruption. Keep the game moving and fun.