Proper Player Rotation and Substitution (Subbing)

Dear SoccerHelp,

One topic I haven't crossed and am quite interested in is the proper rotation of players at game-time.

I coach a 1st / 2nd grader recreational league that has 12 players per team with an 8 vs 8 lineup (including goalie), 20 minute half -- 40 minute game.

Do you have a recommended approach to a well integrated player lineup and rotation?

In my case, I was thinking about 7 minute rotations (3 per half). I thought 5 minutes to be too frequent, 10 minutes to be too long -- but I could be wrong in this regard.

I also tend to keep my best 3 players on the field pretty much the entire game -- unless they're tire. I'm not sure if this is a good strategy or not.

Perhaps you've covered this on your website. If so, please direct me to the link

Thanks much,

Coach Cary


I used to rotate every 5 minutes using a watch with a countdown timer. In actuality, because I could only substitute at certain times (like on a goal kick), it was often 6 or 7 minutes.

I suggest giving every player a break some, and if you get well ahead, let your weaker players play a lot more and rotate everyone equally at that point.

Best wishes,