TSSA Release: July 25, 2017
2017-18 Player Development Initiative (PDI) Update
The US Soccer Federation proposed and implemented standardization with Player Development Initiatives (referred to as PDI’s) in August 2016. The goal is to improve the long-term development of players in the United States by creating the optimal training and playing environment especially for youth players.
These changes were recommended in 2016/2017 but will be MANDATED in 2017/2018. The mandates apply to every team and club under the governance of US Soccer, including US Youth Soccer Association (USYSA), of which the Tennessee State Soccer Association (TSSA) is a member.
The latest complete version of the PDI document can be found at: USSF PDI’s
The TN State Soccer Association adopted and successfully implemented Birth Year Registration changes and Concussion Initiatives in 2016/2017. In 2017/2018 all clubs will be required to implement Small-Sided Games playing standards for players 12U and younger.
*** Please note that small sided games standards are mandated, but Player Development Philosophy information is recommended. TN State Soccer Association understands that the implementation of best practices by clubs in relation to player development philosophy from US Soccer may not always be practical. ***
This document aims to provide an overview of the major changes and practical implications of the PDI mandates. The Small Sided Games Chart (on page 2) will aid in comprehension relating to field size ranges, maximum goal sizes, game time, ball size, offside and format to be played within each age group.
How will this affect our club?
All recreational (D4) and select/travel (D1-D3) clubs must adopt the mandates.
The TN State Soccer Association and its member clubs will follow U.S. Soccer Small-Sided Games Rules, which are included in greater detail in modified laws of the game provided by USYSA. These new modified Laws of the Game meet the Best Practices date from U.S. Soccer of August 2016 for their Player Development Initiative.
6 and Under, 4 vs 4
8 and Under, 4 vs 4
10 and Under, 7 vs 7
12 and Under, 9 vs 9
Frequently Asked Questions
These answers to FAQ’s will assist each club as they apply the standards and mandates for Small-Sided Games formats.
Goals and Field Sizes
Are the goal and field sizes the exact sizes required?
• The goal sizes listed are the maximum sizes for each age group. As clubs’ purchase additional or replacement goals, the standards chart provides a guideline for the recommended goal size for each format. Field sizes are listed with required ranges for length and width for each age group.
Punting the ball
At what age are players allowed to punt a ball in a game?
• Players on Teams 11U and younger may not punt a ball in a game in the 4 vs 4 or 7 vs 7 or 9 vs 9 format.
• Players on Teams 12U and older may punt a ball in a game in the 9 vs 9 format.
• *** Please note a goalkeeper "drop kicking" a ball is considered punting ***
What occurs if the goalkeeper punts or drop kicks the ball?
• No punting is allowed in the 7 vs 7 format. If the goalkeeper punts or drop kicks the ball the referee will stop the game and award an indirect free kick to the opposition at the spot of the infringement.
• If the punt or drop kick occurs within the goal area, the indirect free kick should be taken on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the nearest point to where the infringement occurred.
*** Please note changes to the original PDI policy on punting (drop kicking). Previous PDI guidelines allowed punting but not heading a ball at 11U. After consultation at US Federation meetings in late July a decision was made in the interests of player safety to reduce the risk of players attempting to head a ball at 11U, which is banned, by eliminating punting from the 11U format at ALL competition levels of TSSA soccer
Player Numbers Related to Small Sided
Is the goalkeeper included in the number of players for 4v4, 7v7 and 9v9?
• The 4v4 game model does not include goalkeepers. The 7v7 model is 6 field players and 1 goalkeeper per team and the 9v9 model is 8 field players and 1 goalkeeper per team. No specific team formation is required currently by US Soccer.
What is the purpose of including quarters at certain age groups instead of halves?
• The transition from 4 periods (quarters) to 2 halves provides a gradual evolution to the full game from the physical and cognitive development perspectives of the player. The multiple intervals also provide increased opportunities for a coach to manage substitutions and explain changes to the players in a more controlled environment during the break in play. This should also reduce over-coaching during the periods of play.
11 versus 11 Structure
Are there mandates or standards at age groups 13U and older?
• Not yet. U.S. Soccer is examining 11 vs 11 playing format and many of these potential changes would reflect the standards already established by the Development Academy. More information on these changes will be communicated with members when available.
The offside law
When does offside come into effect?
• There is no offside in the 4 vs 4 format
• Playing with offside begins at the 9U age group, along with the 7v7 game model.
Where can a player be "offside"?
• ***Please note that with the addition of the build out lines in the 7 vs 7 format, a player can only be offside between the oppositions build out line and end line. A player cannot be offside between the halfway line and the oppositions build out line. ***
• In the 9 vs 9 format, offside can ONLY occur between the half way line and the opposition team’s end line.
Build Out Lines
Are the build out lines mandatory for 7v7 play?
• Yes. The build out lines are required for 7v7 play at the 9U and 10U age groups. The build out line is used to promote a possession style of play by playing the ball out of the back in an unpressured setting. The build out lines will be painted on a field from sideline to sideline equidistant from the halfway line and the top of the penalty box on each half of the field (see image below).
What color is the build out line?
• The build out line for the 7 vs 7 format should be a solid line painted in white.
• Pages 29-33 of the PDI document addresses the standards and most practical application principles of the buildout line in the 7 vs 7 format.
What should the referee do if a player on the defending team having retreated, then encroaches over the build out line before the opposing goalkeeper has released the ball from his/her hands?
• The referee will blow the whistle and stop play. The referee will educate the player about the build out line rule. The referee will ensure all players on the defending team are back behind the build out line and restart the game with a drop ball at the feet of the goalkeeper on the attacking team.
Heading the Soccer Ball
At what age are players allowed to head a ball in a game?
• Players on Teams 10U and younger may not deliberately head a ball in a game in the 4 vs 4 or 7 vs 7 format.
• Players on Teams 11U may not deliberately head a ball in a game in the 9 vs 9 format.
• Players on Teams 12U may head a ball in a game in the 9 vs 9 format.
What about deliberately heading the ball where it is not allowed?
• There will be no deliberate heading of the ball allowed in 3U – 11U age groups.
• The referee will stop play and award an indirect free kick for all deliberate infringements at the spot of the infringement unless the infringement occurs within the goal area in which case the indirect free kick should be taken on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the nearest point to where the infringement occurred.
Use of "advantage call" in Small Sided Games"?
• Please note: We have received a clear directive from the Referee department at USSF that, "advantage must never be called in small sided games." Anytime an infringement occurs (which would include heading a ball deliberately in 11U age groups) the referee will stop play and award an indirect free kick.
US Soccer has also provided an additional document; USSF FAQ’s for PDI which answers other frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) that relate to the PDI document.
If you have any questions about this document or the PDI that is not addressed in this document please call TSSA at 615-590-2200.