For boys and girls
born between January 1, 2008- December 31, 2009
PHILOSOPHY & OVERVIEW
The Mites Division introduces team play and continues soccer technique and skill development to the youth of West Hartford. Although all matches are organically competitive and we recognized that the children as well as the parents would know which team won or lost the games, the Mites Division; however, is not meant to be a competitive league. Instead, the intent of the division to concentrate on having fun, technique and skill development, sportsmanship, on team play, beginning an understanding the concepts of the game of soccer and on positional play for the first time. The concepts that we introduce at practice as well as during the games are to reinforce these principles and guidelines.
The Mites play a fall and spring schedule, with games usually on Saturday or Sunday. Children 8 or 9 years old by December 31st compete in both seasons. Games are 7 v 7 including a keeper. Offsides are not called. Heading, penalty kicks and keeper punting are not allowed.
Mites Division coaches generally structure weekly practices to accommodate for the short attention span of the children. Five to six minute drills or scrimmages allow the 60-90 minute practice sessions to move quickly. Having the children standing in lines waiting to shoot or dribble through cones can be a formula for disaster for the average eight year old. There is a responsibility on the part of the coaches to be sure that all children are involved in the practice. Scrimmages are a good way to emphasize teamwork, positional play, and for keeping the practice fun, after technique and skills are introduced and practiced. On game days, it is important for the head coach to arrive early. As children arrive, they should pass the ball back and forth and warm up until the entire team arrives. The philosophy of the Mites is that every child must play two uninterrupted quarters as opposed to subbing in an out during each of the quarters.
The object of the game is to have fun, and, if possible, display the skills that have been worked on during the week. The parents on the sidelines, however, may bring a more specific desire for victory to the game. It is the coach's responsibility to keep the parents informed about the division's philosophies. The Mites Division emphasis is not on winning or losing, but on the development of team play, good sportsmanship and the introduction of the basic skills of soccer to the children.
Up to 14 per team
Mites games are 7 v 7 with referees, FIFA rules of the game are followed with the exception of offsides, and penalty kicks.
Games are played at Kennedy Park. Practices are held at Kennedy Park or King Philip Middle School in the fall and only at Kennedy Park in the spring.
Children must have cleats, shin guard, water bottle, and soccer ball (size 4).
WHY SMALL-SIDED SOCCER?
A normal soccer match consists of 11v11. Anything smaller than this is considered small-sided soccer. WHYSA has adopted a small-sided soccer format for the developmental divisions of recreational soccer. A study of young (9 and under) players by Manchester United in the U.K. showed that during a similar-duration 8 v 8 game and a 4 v 4 or 3 v. 3 game, on average, the 4 v 4 or 3 v. 3 based games increased the number of passes by 135%, the number of scoring attempts by 260%, the number of 1 v 1 encounters by 225% and the number of dribbling skills (tricks) demonstrated by 280%. They concluded that the 4 v 4 or 3 v. 3 based games offered players a significantly higher number of touches (as defined by the number of passes, shots, goals, 1 v 1 encounters, and dribbling skills) than comparable 8 v 8 games. Furthermore, 4 v 4 or 3 v. 3 based games were better for developing more skillful young players. The United States Youth Soccer Association (“USYSA”) also recommends small-sided soccer for children at these age groups.