Melrose Youth Soccer
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“Big Rules” for U-10 City Soccer

Melrose Youth Soccer

U8 Program Overview


The goal of the Melrose Youth Soccer (MYS) U8 program is to prepare younger players for the next level of soccer while providing a fun and non-competitive environment. The program uses small-sided games (4v4) without goalies and teams do not keep score during games. Equal time is awarded to all players.

Coaches focus on developing basic soccer skills so players are comfortable moving to the U10 City or U10 Travel leagues. These skills include:


-receiving and controlling a ball

-dribbling with the ball

-kicking the ball (technique not power at this age)


U8 Team Formation


The ideal roster size for U8 teams is 8 players per roster. This allows for each line to have equal substitutions


U8 teams are formed based on school grade and compete with other teams in the same grade (so grade 1 teams will play grade 1 teams).


The general principal for team formation is to assign players to teams (as much as possible) based on school and grade while maintaining a balance between male and female players on each team. This process will put most players on a team with children they already know.


School/grade teams are assigned on a first come-first served basis so those players who register early will have a better chance of being on their “school” team(s).


Players who register late will be assigned based on available space across all teams. Players for whom no school information is provided will be assigned based on available space across all teams.


-27 players (14 boys/13 girls) register from Lincoln Grade 1


With a total of 27 players (14 boys/13 girls), there will be 3 Lincoln/Grade 1 teams.


Based on date of registration, the first 4 boys/girls will be assigned to team 1 The next 4 boys/girls will form team 2 etc.

Every effort will be made to place the 3 remaining players from Lincoln on the same team with similar players from other schools.


Siblings (in the same grade or a grade1/2 pair) will be placed on the same team.


These are general guidelines, not rules. Teams will fluctuate based on the number of players who register (by school/grade) and the gender ratio.


Teams are assigned for the Fall season. Returning coaches will be assigned any returning players for the Spring season. If a coach does not return for Spring, the returning players will be kept on the same team as much as possible.


U8 Coaches


MYS is a 100% volunteer organization and relies on the active participation of parents interested in helping young players have fun and develop their soccer skills. There is no experience necessary to coach at U8 and parents/guardians are strongly encouraged to participate with their children and have fun.


U8 coaches focus on ensuring the players attain a competence level of basic soccer skills in preparation for the next level. There should be no focus on winning or losing games. Coaches must play equal time for all players.


Each team should have a head coach and an assistant coach, usually parents of players on the team.


Mass Youth Soccer licenses can be obtained to aid in coaching young players. All U8 coaches should hold the basic certification (the “G” License). MYS will provide this at no cost to the U8 coaches. This license (for new and existing coaches) is an excellent review of how to teach young players the basics while they have a whole lot of fun. Most coaches really enjoy the 4 hour course too!


As is the case with all MYS coaches, every coach must fill out a CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) form.


U8 Game Rules  



Melrose Youth Soccer coordinates a U8 soccer program for the sole purpose of little kids having fun. We exist at this level to promote fun, so that kids will learn and grow to love soccer and wish to play it at more competitive levels.  U8 soccer is specifically designed to focus on individual development.  Even though we do so in a team environment, it is not in a competitive environment.  We don't keep standings in U8 - because we don't keep score in U8.  There is a reason we don't play with goalkeepers -- we want kids to get goals.  We want kids to experience the thrill of getting a goal and having their teammates congratulate them. 


4 v. 4 Format


4v4 is the optimum number for teaching in small-sided games. It permits the 3 zones on the field to be used: attacking/forward zone, midfield, defensive zone and familiarizes young players with these zones.


4v4  has two primary formations; a diamond shape (1 attacker, 2 midfielders, 1 defender) or a square (2 defenders, 2 attackers). There are variations of these too. It is recommended that coaches settle on a particular formation and play that consistently.


General Rules


  • Four 12-minute periods of running time.
  • Format is 4v4 players on the field – no goalkeeper.
  • Parents must stay on opposite side of field from team.  No Exceptions.
  • All assistants to the coach or any party interacting with the children on behalf of the coach must be registered with Mass Youth Soccer.  No person can cover during a coach’s absence unless that person is a CORI-registered assistant.
  • Coaches must play equal time for all players.
  • Coaches have the option to coach on the field for the first 4 games of each season. After game 4, they must remain on the sidelines.


Player Attire


  • MYS soccer shirt with appropriate color shown (as indicated on the game schedule Home:White     Away: Red).
  • Soccer cleats (desired) but sneakers may be worn (No football/baseball cleats)
  • Absolutely No Jewelry (earrings may not be taped).
  • Shin Guards must be worn under socks (not over).


Game Play



    • Referee will use Middlesex Youth Soccer Rules
    • Referee’s decision is final.  If you have a question or disagree with the referee then either speak with the referee after the game or contact the U8 Coordinator. 
    • Any coach who yells at a referee may be removed from coaching by Melrose Youth Soccer.
    • When a referee stops play due to injury, all players go down on one knee until the referee resumes play. 


·         Soccer requires that all players play both offense and defense when they they are on the field. The idea is to get all players involved in the game and score goals thus increasing the thrill and fun of the game.


Coaches Note:

Please do not allow a player to stand in front of their goal when they are on the field to block the ball going into the goal. There are no goalies in U8. A good rule of thumb is to have your defender(s) stand outside the penalty area.

Players who like to stand in front of goal are naturally defensive (and will likely be good defenders/goalies in the future) but should be encouraged to win the ball, dribble it and/or pass it. They should be learning the basic ball skills at this age and standing in front of a goal will not help.

Please help each other with this. If the opposing team has a player blocking the net please let the other coach know so that the player can be encouraged to move forward and participate in play.


·         Start of Play

    • A. Preliminaries. Prior to the beginning of play, the referee shall summons a captain(s) from each team to the center of the field for the coin toss. The visiting (Away) team shall call the coin toss. The team that wins the coin toss decides which goal it will attack in the first half of the match. The other team takes the kick-off to start the match. The team that wins the coin toss takes the kick-off to start the second half of the match.
      • B. Kick-off. A kick-off is a way of starting (or restarting) play. All players shall be in their own half of the field. All players of the opposing team shall be at least eight (8) yards from the ball until it is in play. With the ball stationary on the center mark, the referee shall give a signal to start play. The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward. The kicker shall not touch the ball a second time until it has touched another player. A goal may not be scored on a kick-off.


  • Throw-Ins:  Both feet must remain on the ground; ball is to be thrown with two hands over the head. Opposing players must stand 2 Yards from player doing the “throw-in.”


  • Substitutions may be made under the following conditions:
      • Prior to a throw-in in your team’s favor**
      • Prior to a goal kick by either team
      • After a goal by either team
      • After an injury by either team when the referee stops play (one player only)
      • Each new quarter

**Please remember the team in possession of the ball for the throw-in is the team who can substitute.  In other words, if the team wearing Red has the throw-in and wishes to substitute, then the team wearing White may also substitute.  White may not substitute on a Red throw-in unless Red is substituting. 


  • Penalty Kicks/ Drop Kicks/ Direct Kicks: All actions that would otherwise result in a penalty kick, drop kick, or direct kick shall, instead – at the sole discretion of the referee – be awarded an indirect kick.




  • Corner Kick
    • A corner kick is awarded when the whole of the ball, having last touched a player of the defending team, passes over the goal line, either on the ground or in the air, and a goal is not scored.
    • Procedure: The ball is kicked from the nearest corner flag demarked area by a player of the attacking team. The kicker shall not play the ball a second time until it has touched another player.


  • Goal Kick
    • A goal kick is awarded when the whole of the ball, having last touched a player of the attacking team, passes over the goal line, either on the ground or in the air, and a goal is not scored.
    • Procedure: The ball is kicked from any point within the penalty box by a player of the defending team. The Attacking team must retreat to outside of the penalty box and stay on their side until the ball is in play. The ball is in play when it is kicked outside the goal box by the defending team. The kicker shall not play the ball a second time until it has touched another player.



·        Rough Play

o   Excessive pushing, use of hands and elbows is to be discouraged.  Players must be directed how to appropriately shield with their bodies, but not push and shove.

o   Tripping of any kind – whether intentional or unintentional will result in a penalty and the ball turned over to the opposing team.

o   Slide Tackles (sliding and kicking the ball while the player’s body is on the ground) are dangerous to immature players, and are not allowed.  The referee will give warning to the coach and to the player.  Continued slide tackles will result in removal from the game until the start of the next period.



Running up the score: 


Please remember:  Do not run up the score against a weaker team.  The U8 League is a recreational league and teams will contain a mix of skill sets.  Therefore your team may be playing a team of younger or still developing players.  Losing by a big margin is not fun for the kids on the younger / developing team regardless of their age or skill level.  Coaches need to use discretion if it appears that the score is getting too high.  A margin of three ahead is a good indication that you are approaching “running up of the score”, and should move your forwards back to fullbacks, or require a certain number of passes before a goal can be tried, etc.    


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