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Tips and Answers to common questions

Parents' Corner 

Information on how to fuel players before and after a game


What you need, sizes, what to look out for


Be the best parent on the sideline, on the ride home, and everywhere else


We explain Offsides and other rules that don't really make sense


Information on how to fuel players before and after a game 

Did you know that what we eat can be just as important for game day success as how many juggles we practice or goals we score? Athletes pour hours into training, so make sure they have the right fuel to keep them strong, healthy, and successful! It’s not as complicated as you might think - check it out!


Nutrition 101: Learning the Basics



Don’t believe everything you hear about carbohydrates! Carbohydrate foods (carbs) provide the energy our muscles need to train and play tough games. Sources of carbs include rices, pastas, potatoes, legumes, breads, and cereals. 


There are two main types of carbs: “complex” carbs and “simple” carbs. “Complex” carbs such as whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and sweet potatoes are broken down slowly and provide long-lasting energy. Eating these the days leading up to a game is great for building up energy stores (but be careful eating too many on game day: they are high in fiber!).


“Simple” carbs on the other hand are things like white rice, white breads, white pastas, and fruits. They are broken down more quickly to provide an immediate energy source for muscles. Reach for simple carbs the hours before a game!



While carbohydrates are the “powerhouse” for providing all-game energy, protein is also important for muscle repair, growth, and keeping your energy up throughout your game! Choose lean, non-greasy protein sources such as chicken and turkey breasts, fish, eggs, low fat dairy, and soy products. 



While sports drinks are great for restoring electrolytes (such as sodium and potassium) lost through sweat during and after a hard game, water is great for providing hydration without all the extra sugar. On the other hand, soft drinks and caffeine-containing beverages can actually make you dehydrated, so it’s best to avoid them.


Don’t forget that it takes a while to hydrate! Drinking a bottle of water before a game isn’t as effective as staying hydrated throughout the week. 


Let’s get practical: Realistic Tips for a Busy Schedule


While we would all love to provide our kids with fresh, home-cooked meals and snacks before every game or practice, sometimes it’s just not practical. Use these tips to keep your athlete fueled with nutritious foods on the go:


  • Keep washed, cut vegetables and fruits on hand for an easy-to-grab snack (pair with peanut butter and hummus for an extra dose of protein).

  • Deli meat and low-fat cheese, yogurt, and low-fat popcorn work great as healthy snack choices when you don’t have time to prep fruits and vegetables.

  • Toasted English muffins, bagels, or whole grain waffles with a spread of cream cheese or peanut butter makes for a healthy, tasty breakfast on the go.

  • Nuts and trail mixes are a great source of energy and healthy fats that are easy to keep in the car!

  • Stock your pantry with the basics for a quick, healthy meal. A box of whole grain pasta, lean turkey or ground beef, and a jar of pasta sauce is an easy dinner that gives your athlete the protein and carbohydrates they need.

Quick Guide to eating right before and after games: 
Fuel Your Game - Nutrition Handout



What you need, sizes, what to look out for

Requirements for Soccer
U4 players only need comfortable shoes and clothes they can run around in. 

Shin guards and socks are required for U5 and U6 players.
Cleats are recommended for U5 and U6 players but are not required. 
Cleats, Shin guards, Socks are required for players U7 and older.

If your player is not growing out of a size, cleats will wear out every 1.5 to 2 soccer seasons (with reasonable wear and tear). Consider this when looking for more expensive cleats which do last longer but still will wear out after 2 seasons of consistent use. 

Size - look for toes to the end of the shoe similar to regular tennis shoes. Make sure it does not pinch (if it pinches a little it will hurt during a soccer game).
 ** One thing to remember is soccer socks and shin guards make the foot bigger in the shoe** 
So while it may fit with regular socks it will be too tight and hurt during a game. Bring Soccer socks when trying on cleats and if your players shin guards go under the heel, bring those as well. We hear players complain about foot pain from cleats that are too small. 

Shin Guards

The sensitive part of your players shin needs to be covered during a soccer game. Players often miss the ball and even without shin guards, a kick anywhere below the knee cap does not feel pleasant. When looking for the right size make sure to get shin guards that are big enough to cover the players shin but not too big that they engulf the leg. The highest risk area start about a 4th of the way down the shin below the knee cap.

If you get the shin guards with stirrups make sure they do not pinch the top of the foot and are uncomfortable. Best practice is to bring try on socks, shin guards and cleats all together to make sure they are a good fit for player.

** Shin guards are meant to go under socks **


Make sure the socks are big enough to go to the base of the knee and completely cover shin guards 

Uniform - Players come in all shapes and sizes, so ACS Recreation Soccer does not have a strict dress code. We recommend black shorts and socks. Players should avoid baggy pants, jeans, cargo shorts and shorts that go lower than the knees. 

Soccer Ball Sizes by age
U4 to U8 - Size 3 Soccer Ball 
U10 to U12 - Size 4 Soccer Ball 
U13 and Older - Size 5 Soccer Ball 

Goalie Equipment
When it comes to buying gloves, players want to find a pair that has a bit of room at the end of the fingers. If there is too much room it will hinder players catching the ball properly. If the gloves are snug or too small they won’t last as long because of the constant stress on the stitching.

When buying new gloves, the best way to make them last is to use the new gloves as their game gloves and then training with their old ones. Obviously they’ll want to train once or twice with them just to get a feel for them, but best practice is to wear out the old ones at training. This will help preserve the palm and keep the game gloves in the best shape to be ready for tournaments. Just repeat this cycle every time they buy a new pair.

As far as pricing, young players hands are growing just as quick as their feet so it may not be best practice to buy the most expensive pair. However, do not simply buy the cheapest pair of gloves as they may not last a full season. 


Be the best parent on the sideline, on the ride home and everywhere else 

“It’s important for kids have freedom and have flexibility to create and to imagine, and for the game to be fun while teaching fundamentals of the sport.”
— Kobe Bryant

True Sport Tips for Parents

- Support your child unconditionally 
- Attend your child's games, practices and sporting events regularly
- Cheer for and encourage your child, their teammates and their opponents. 
- Model self-control, good problem-solving and conflict management skills. 
- Appreciate and thank officials and encourage other to do the same. 
- Encourage commitment, teamwork, respect and punctuality. 
- Show appreciation to coaches and other volunteers for their contributions to coaches and other volunteers for their contributions to sport. 
- Encourage your child to strive for personal growth and excellence
- Find ways to keep it fun! 
- Be your child's biggest fan 

- Listening to your child to understand their motivation. 
- Seeking feedback about your behavior from others to keep yourself in check. 
- Practicing with your child at home. Play with them! Keep it fun! 
- Speaking up when other parents, coaches, or spectators are behaving poorly. 
- Volunteering to help out regularly 
- Not rushing your child through the fun stages. Let them be a kid! 

- Let your emotions get the better of you.
- Yell out advice and criticism to your child or others.
- Ask your child to act one way and then model something else.
- Compare your child with others. 
- Focus the sport experience solely on winning.
- Treat your child differently after a win versus a loss.  
- Use the ride home to critique your child. 



Parents Checklist for Encouraging play

US Youth Soccer Sideline Etiquette

1. Avoid ‘coaching’ from the sideline while watching your child’s game

2. Do not criticize the referee 

3. Focus on the benefits of the game rather than the score

4. Think when interacting with opposing fans

6. Save issues with the coach for the next day



We explain offsides and other rules that don't make sense


Offsides calls start officially at the U11/U12 level when players begin playing 9v9. Though referees can call it at the U10 level if its obvious "cherry-picking."

What makes an attacking player offsides?

  • The attacking player must be in the opponents’ half of the playing field.

  • The attacking player must be closer to the goal line than second to last defending player (including goalie).

  • The attacking player must be ‘in play’ -so either playing the ball or interfering with the goalie.

Modified Rules for each age group

U8 Rules

U10 Rules

U12 Rules

U13+ Fifa Rules

U8 - 4v4 

  • 4 players on the field for each team

  • No goalies 

  • 40 minutes of playing time with 4 quarters, each quarter 10 minutes long

  • Players can be subbed on and off at any stoppage of play

  • Goal size - 4ft x 6ft

  • Field size - 25 x 35 yards  

  • No Offsides 

  • No Heading Allowed

U8 - FAQ 
Q. Why are there no goalies at the U8 level? 
A. We want players to be rewarded for dribbling around opponents and shooting. Having a goalie takes one player out of the game and makes it far too hard for players to score on such a small goal. We don't want a players experience to be standing around watching the game at this level, all players are encouraged to go after the ball and be part of the game. 

Q. Why is it only 4v4? 
A. Players at this level are just starting to grasp the idea of passing and helping teammates, they are still focused on themselves and learning what it means to be on a team. Four is a great number to allow players to cover the field and work together, while also making sure they don't get too tired. 

U10 - 7v7 

  • 7 players on the field for each team (including a goalie)

  • 50 minutes of playing time with 2 halves, each 25 minutes long

  • Players can only be subbed on and off when their team has possession

  • Goal size - 6ft x 12ft 

  • Field size - 40 x 60 yards

  • Offsides calls at the discretion of the referee, normally for obvious "cherry-picking"

  • No Heading Allowed 

  • Build Out Line Enforced

  • Goalies are not allowed to punt or drop-kick the ball

Build Out Line Explained

  • If the goalie collects the ball or if it’s a goal kick, the attacking team must back up behind the Build Up Line until after the ball is put into play

  • Unless its a goal kick, Goalies can put the ball into play whenever they want even if opposing team has not retreated back to the build out line. 

U10 - FAQs
Q. Why do we use the build out line? 

A. At this age players can run faster than they can pass. This gives a big advantage to defending players trying to get the ball. At older ages this is not an issue, but at the U10 level we want to give players with the ball time to pass the ball out of the back and build up play through skillful passes instead of just a big kick down the field.

Q. Why does the referee get to decide when and when not to call Offsides? 
A. With all older age groups there is a team of referees working together, at the U10 age group there is only 1 referee, because of their position in the middle of the field, they always tell if a player was offsides or not. So they have been instructed to only call offsides when it is obvious or when a player is far enough in offsides territory to make it obvious to the referee. 

Q. Why can't the goalie punt the ball down the field? 
A. We don't allow goalies to punt or drop-kick the ball at this age level because of the size of the field and because we want to encourage goalies and defenders not to take the easy way out. We want to challenge players to connect passes and work as a team to move the ball down the field and try to score. Goalies are allowed to throw the ball to players or drop the ball and play like a normal field player. 

U12 - 9v9 

  • 9 players on the field for each team (including goalie)

  • 60 minute games with 2 halves, each 30 minutes long

  • Players can only be subbed on and off when their team has possession

  • Goal Size: 7ft x 21ft 

  • Field Size: 50 x 75 yards

  • Normal Offsides calls 

  • Heading is allowed 

  • Goalies can punt and drop-kick the ball 

If you have any questions about rules please contact with questions

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