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Carolina Soccer Center of Excellence


1. All younger-player programs incorporate appropriate small-sided play. This improves time-on-task (interaction with the ball,) as fewer people on the field results in more touches per player. This is opposed to inappropriately large numbers of kids on the field resulting in some players never touching the ball.

 - Munchkins (4-year olds) play 2v2 or 3v3
 - Ginga (5 year olds) play 2v2 or 3v3
 - Rondo (6 year olds) play 3v3 or 4v4
 - Pre-Academy (7-8 year olds) play 5v5 or 6v6

2. All Programs do NOT form teams, for the following reasons:

 - To emphasize a focus on the individual player and their individual technical development. This is opposed to making the focus about a team, which translates to a focus on results. Results are irrelevant – individual development is what is important.

 - No teams mean no need for substitutes This improves time-on-task (interaction with the ball,) as everyone is involved all the time. This is opposed to having set teams large rosters where 50% of the kids sit out 50% of the time.

 - Free movement of players every game guarantees the appropriate challenge-to-success ratio. We can change teams around each week, and each session, to compensate for strong/weak players or performances. This is opposed to set teams, where kids can be either largely unchallenged, or experience little success. Kids need to be challenged to improve, but also experience successes to keep accepting challenges.

3. Use appropriately sized fields to achieve the appropriate challenge-to-success ratio.

Players need enough space to be successful with whatever they are attempting while feeling the adequate amount of pressure. Too much on a huge field means there is no challenge, and too little space on a tiny field means there is no hope. This is opposed to fields that are too small, which are a jumbled mess of kids falling on top of one another, or fields that are too large and result in an athletic contest with little to do with soccer.

4. Uses a professionally designed curriculum and 100% professionally supervised practices.


Small group training is the most effective, efficient, productive way to train, which is why we gave it the name "Apex". Fewer players mean the coach can dedicate more time per player than opposed to training a whole team. At the same time, group training, as opposed to individual training, offers an infinitely greater number of choices regarding session design options.

Why 5 - 10 Players?
We think that five players are the smallest number of players permissible to fulfill all necessary components of a "real game", as explained below:

A. Regarding Possession Scenarios
When a player has possession of the ball, 4 situations can occur:
(i) The player passes or dribbles. This only needs ONE player.
(ii) The player shoots. This only requires ONE player.
(iii) The player passes the ball and the immediately receives the ball back. This needs TWO players.
(iv) The player passes the ball and the recipient then passes the ball to a different player. This requires THREE players.

B. Regarding Defensive Scenarios
A player is either the first defender (ONE player), the supporting ("cover") defender (TWO players), or a supplemental ("balancing") defender (THREE players).

C. Regarding "Layers"
There are three basic layers of play: defensive, midfield, forward. To successfully cover all these areas, a minimum of THREE players is needed.

D. Regarding Distances
There are three basic distance-options to play the ball: short, medium, and long. To successfully cover all of these options, a minimum of FOUR players are needed: a short option, a medium option, a long option..... and the player playing the ball.

E. Regarding Dimensions
To successfully recreate a realistic game-like scenario, a minimum of FIVE players are needed to provide the necessary dimensions: height, width, depth, and a pivot.

Taking all the above considerations into account: it takes a minimum of FIVE players to successfully create and train any game-like situation with a small group. A maximum of ten players means that one could create equal "teams" and thus enable fully opposed training. 

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