Our Micro teams (U5/U6) use the "New Ball" Continuous Play format. There are no goalkeepers, and players are discouraged from simply standing in front of their defensive goal. Whenever a ball goes out of play, a server (positioned behind the closest goal) holds up a ball, calls "New Ball!" to direct the players' attention to that ball, then rolls it to an open space in either corner on that end of the field. Balls are not to be tossed or bounced back in to play, and should not be served into the middle of the field.
The idea behind the ‘new ball method’ is to keep the flow of the game constant and increase the number of ball touches by all the players. The ‘new ball method’ eliminates restarts such as throw-ins and corner kicks and keeps the ball in play continuously. Restarts might be important to the game results at the highest level of play, but they have no relevance or developmental benefits at the U-6 level.
Key Points and Benefits
- Eliminate all traditional (adult) restarts other than the initial kick-offs at the start of each quarter.
- Move all adults off the playing field; make it clear this is a game for the kids to play!
- Position a coach or designated parent behind each goal line to be a server with a supply of balls.
- Whenever a ball goes out of play (for what would've been a goal kick, corner kick, throw-in, or kick off), the server on that half of the field rolls a new ball into play and calls out “New Ball!” loudly so all players can hear.
- New balls should be rolled into open spaces on the ground away from the pack, or close to any player who has not had a lot of touches on the ball during the game; make dominant players run more to get to each new ball.
- The benefits of doing this are HUGE; the ball will stay in play over 90% of the scheduled game time, the players will get approximately 70% more touches on the ball during the same amount of time, the players will do a lot more total running in each game, and the challenge of getting the ball can be “slanted” to match the different abilities of the players on the field.
- More touches will accelerate the players competency with the ball and success in the game.