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Team selection, availability and equal playing time

Ask parents for their child’s availability well in advance (i.e. several weeks).  This enables you to select which players are “rested” each week and publish teams for the next 4-6 weeks.  This gives parents the chance to plan weekends off football and everyone gets to see that the rotation is being handled fairly.

Mini-soccer: for 5-a-side matches It is best to have only 8-players, and for 7-a-side matches 10 players at a mini soccer game to avoid too many getting cold or bored on the side-lines.

Youth Soccer: for 9-a-side a maximum of 12 players is suggested, and for 11-a-side a maximum of 14.

In a mini-soccer squad of 10 or 11, each child will have 1 in 10 or 1 in 5 weeks off.  You will probably find that on many occasions the team selects itself with some children being unavailable. By selecting in advance, you can, if needed, rest the stronger players for the games against weaker opposition and vice versa.

If you have a player who is considerably weaker than the others, do not play them in defence or goal. At the younger age groups, goals are often considered to be the “fault” of the defence or goalkeeper according to the other children and this can result in undue pressure being put on the weaker players.  It is fairly easy to “hide” a weaker player up front. Hiding a weak keeper is more of a problem. You will usually have two or three players who can provide cover. Change the keeper at half time if necessary, but guarantee both keepers all of the other half of the game on the pitch.


Mini soccer games are 20 or 25 minutes each way depending on the age group.  Broadly, this means that all players who are registered should get a fair share of football.  Substitutes in all competitions are “roll-on roll-off”.  This means players can come on, go off and come back on at any stage.  Substitutes should be organised so that in mini sided games everyone plays most of the match.


  • For an U8 team (20 minutes each way), this may mean you need to have substitutes after 13 minutes play and again after 26 minutes. This needs to be thought out in advance!
  • In an 11 a side game, you might plan it like this:
    • Using a squad of 13, in an U13 game (30 minutes each way), you could change two players at 20 and 40 minutes, guaranteeing 40 minutes play for the subs.

Equal Playing Time

The club has a philosophy of “Equal Playing Time”. “Equal Playing Time” applies over the season, not to one match. This means that you may give the weaker players extended time in the less competitive games.

“Equal Playing Time” inevitably forces a manager to make changes when they don’t want to.  Therefore, substitutions should be thought out before the game starts.

There will be a few occasions when “Equal Playing Time” during a match may be inappropriate; managers should abide with the spirit of this rule rather than applying it without exception.

Even in a Red team in an older age group where there may be a greater emphasis on playing to win, all players should still receive their fair share of pitch time. Remember, EVERY PARENT pays the same subscription to the club. So… EVERY CHILD gets their fair share of playing time.

Updated on November 8, 2017

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