The "New Ball" Method for U4 and U6 Soccer
Why Your League Should Do this Next Season
No Refs, More Touches, More Fun
This Is Sweeping the Country
A Better Way for U4 & U6 Saturday Games
Try it for U4 and U6 Soccer and Maybe U8
LOTS of Advantages for Leagues

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Hi, This is David at SoccerHelp. I get lots of great ideas from coaches all over the world and this one about the New Ball Method is from Brian in CA.

Coach Doug and I like this idea a lot. It makes a lot of sense and State Associations across the U.S. are starting to recommend it. I urge you to forward this to your Club, League or YMCA. Basically, the "New Ball" Method doesn't have Throw-Ins (or Kick-Ins), Goal Kicks, Corner Kicks, Free Kicks or Kick Offs after a goal. I assume they don't use Goalkeepers (I recommend no Goalkeepers for U4 or U6) and don't call off-side. There aren't Referees - the 2 coaches each carry 2 balls and if the ball goes out of play, they simply roll a ball back into play. Coaches keep the time, or a parent can keep time. A coach can be assigned to call flagrant fouls and if that occurs that child is substituted and instructed on the rules on the sideline. Substitutions are done "on the fly" like hockey. The result is that the amount of time the ball is in play is increased by about 75%, so kids get lots more touches on the ball and have more fun. It would also be a lot cheaper and easier for Leagues to administer.

Could you point me in the right direction to the problem I want to solve?

The New Ball Method has LOTS of advantages including lower cost and easier administration.

Another idea which is even easier and perfect for starting a U4 and U6 program, is the program Coach Doug used in Florida called Soccer Fun for Ages 3,4,5 and 6 which is described at

Below is some info about the New Ball Method from and you can read more details there.

1. Whenever a ball goes OUT OF PLAY or a GOAL IS SCORED, a coach announces "New Ball!" and rolls another ball into play.

2. There is no referee. The coaches are responsible for controlling the game

3. Substitutions are done "on the fly" like hockey. When a player gets tired or the coach wants to make a substitution, the player runs off the field and a new player runs on. No stoppage.

4. U5/U6 games consist of four, (8)-minute quarters, with a (2) minute break between quarters, and a (5) minute break at the half. (NOTE from David - I believe some Leagues cut the time for U4 to 6 minute quarters and for U5 and U6 to 7 minute quarters - 32 minutes of intense running is a lot for small kids.)

5. The two coaches assign themselves each to half of the field and carry one or two balls in their arms.

6. Putting a ball back into play - The 'new ball' should be rolled to neutral space or toward the disadvantaged team. OR, Favor the team on the wrong end of a one sided game. Favor individual players who are not becoming involved in the game

7. More touches on the ball - This method doubled or tripled the number of touches by each player in a study conducted in 2001/2002 by the Richmond Hill SA in Georgia. More touches means faster skill development and increased enjoyment of the game.

8. More playing time - Indiana Youth Soccer studied the effect of the New Ball Method and found that in 7 minute quarter, the ball was in play for 4 minutes using traditional rules, and about 6 minutes and 30 seconds using the New Ball Method

9. This method will speed up the game, produce more goals and more excitement, while at the same time de-emphasizing the importance of scoring and emphasizing play and fun.

10. This method can be used to get non-assertive players involved by rolling the new ball to those players; and can be used to even the playing field in a lopsided game. At this age, score is not kept, there is no win/loss record, and the emphasis is on playing, having fun and sportsmanship, not winning.

11. Unlike at the higher levels, at this age, goal kicks, corner kicks, and kick-ins do not provide the tactical advantage for the kicking team, and can often be a disadvantage. Consequently, re-starts substantially slow the game with no benefit to the player or spectator.

12. The New Ball Method has proven to be a great success with clubs around the country that have adopted it.

13. Fouls at this age are almost always innocent, and result from lack of coordination rather than malicious intent, so fouls should almost never be called--a player can be substituted and instructed on the rules of play when that player comes off the field. Players are rarely hurt (other than hurt feelings) by a foul at this age, and since score is not kept and records are not important, any tactical advantage obtained by a foul is meaningless, and can be corrected with the next "new ball." If necessary, one coach can be assigned to each half of the game to call only the most blatant fouls.

14. The coaches keep time (alternating quarters), or a volunteer parent can keep time.Time limits must be adhered to in order to prevent delays of all the games later that day.

15. DO NOT bounce the 'new ball' as it is difficult for these players to judge a bouncing ball at this age.

If your club or league uses this approach, please let me know how it works.

David at SoccerHelp