Grassroots Coaching


The following information on Mini Football has been culled from a variety of sources. It is not designed to be the “Final Word” but a discussion document.

Since the mandatory introduction of the Mini-Football for under-lOs in 1999, there have been an evolvement of best practices for using Mini-Football to introduce both the child and the parent to the game.

1.   Short Game

The two teams play two games of 15 mins each way, as opposed to the traditional one game of 30 mins each way.

•    Most children have a concentration span of under 10 mins.

•    It gives a team who may be 3-0 down after 30 mins with the game lost something to play for in the second game.

Very often, if one team is much stronger in the first game, they can rotate their team and players positions to make the second game more competitive.

2.   No League Tables

Mini-Football leagues collect no results and produce no league tables. This doesn’t mean it’s non-competitive; any time two teams play football it will be naturally competitive.

The emphasise is on the introduction should to the game of mini football, not tables and medals! The fun or the competition during the game is no less.

3.   Coach/Player Development Weekends

Some clubs have ‘No Game’ weekends, where they organise training courses for the managers and coaches, or encourages its clubs to organise coaching for the players, as opposed to games.

4.   Short Seasons

A league in the North works on short seasons, so season one takes place September to November, and season two February to April. This keeps interest to a maximum, is more flexible for parents, and allows teams to be moved in the break, so an equal level of competition, which is in everyone’s best interests, is developed.

5.   Mini-Football Centres

A great way to introduce mini football to a lot of young players is the ‘come and try’ sessions at the Mini-Football centre. They usually runs on a Saturday/Sunday morning for a couple of hours.

Children can turn up and take part in a fun football activity, and then they are placed in teams for a game of Mini-Football.

For the club, it raises funds and recruits players for the future.

Two formats you may wish to consider at your Mini-Football centre are:


Every child has a number. A team of five plays against another team of five. At the end of the game, if your team wins, the individual players get three points, two points for a draw, and one for a loss.

After the game a new team is established and play goes on. The individual players carry their own points tally on through the games. Play five to six games at 6 mins one way.

Set up three or four pitches, two teams on each pitch, play for 5 mins.

If you win, you get promoted; if you lose, you get relegated. This helps provide equal games.

Mini-Football at Under-11 and Under-12

Many leagues now offer Mini-Football at under-11 and some under-12.

One league in the south-east runs both under-11 Mini-Football and ll v ll, with clubs having a choice.

This means the coaches can choose the most appropriate game to meet the needs of their players.


What would be the advantage of playing 2 separate games of 15 minutes each way? It can give the losing team something to play for and keep their interest by providing a new start in the second game.
How would short seasons help players and parents? Provides flexibility for parents and can develop a more equal level of competition
What would be one advantage of organizing mini football centres? It helps promote football to a lot more young players.
Why could no league tables benefit players? The emphasis is on an introduction to the game, rather than on results.


Rules for mini football:


Law 1


The playing area




Under – 10’s / 9’s Under – 8’s / 7’s
Meters Yards Meters Yards
Min. 27.45 Min. 30 Min. 18.30 Min. 20
Max. 36.60 Max. 40 Max. 27.45 Max. 30
Length Min. 45.75 Min. 50 Min. 27.45 Min. 30
Max. 54.90 Max. 60 Max. 45.75 Max. 50


Penalty area


Length 9.15m / 10 yards: Width 16.47 m / 18 yards



Penalty mark / spot


The penalty spot should be 7.32 m / 8 yards from the goal line and should be opposite the center of the goal.


Halfway line


The pitch should be divided into two halves by a half way line. There should be a centre mark at the mid point of the half way line.


Goal size


The size of the goal should be 3.6 m / 12 ft post to post and 1.88 m / 6 ft from the ground to the lower edge of the cross bar. The goal should comply with FA safety guidelines.


Law 2


The ball


The ball should be no larger than a size 4. Size 3 is recommended for under 8’s.


Law 3


Number of players


Number of players per team (Including Goalkeeper)
Under 10 / 9’s 6 v 6 or 7 v 7
Under 8 / 7’s 4 v 4 , 5 v 5, 6 v 6 or 7 v 7


It is encouraged by the FA that teams, where possible and appropriate, use the smallest number of players at the youngest age group.


Players must play with and against players only from their own age range –within a two –year age band. Players should not begin to play until the season of their seventh birthday.


Each team must have a squad size that is greater than double the size of the team per age.


Any number of substitutes, without being named, may be used at any one time, with the permission of the referee or game leader. Entry into the field of play will only be allowed during a stoppage in play. A player who has been replaced may return to the playing area as a substitute for another player.


Law 4

Playing Equipment

Players must wear shin guards and goalkeepers must wear a distinguishing playing strip.

Shin guards must be covered entirely by the stockings.


Law 5


The Authority of the Referee

Each match is controlled by a referee who has full authority to enforce the Laws of the Came in connection with the match to which they have been appointed.

Powers and Duties

The Referee:

•    enforces the Laws of the Came

•    controls the match in cooperation with the assistant referees/timekeeper

•    ensures that the ball meets the requirements of Law 2

•    ensures that the players’ equipment meets the requirements of Law 4

•    stops, suspends or terminates the match, at their discretion, for any infringements of the Laws

•    stops, suspends or terminates the match because of outside interference of any kind

•    stops the match if, in their opinion, a player is seriously injured and ensures that they are removed from the field of play

•    ensures that any player bleeding from a wound leaves the field of play

•    allows play to continue when the team against which an offence has been committed will benefit from such an advantage, and penalises the original offence if the anticipated advantage does not ensue at that time

•    takes disciplinary action against players guilty of cautionable and/or sending-off offences

•    takes action against team officials who fail to conduct themselves in a responsible manner and may, at their discretion, expel them from the field of play and its immediate surrounds

•    ensures that no unauthorised persons enter the field of play

•    restarts the match after it has been stopped.

Decisions of the Referee

The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play are final.

The referee may only change a decision on realising that it is incorrect, or at their discretion, provided that play has not restarted.


Law 6 Timekeeper/Scorer/Assistant Referee


A person may be nominated to assist the referee to:

a)   record goals scored

b)   act as timekeeper and signify to the referee by an agreed signal when the time of each half has expired

c)   suspend time on an instruction from the referee for all stoppages and add that time to the end of each half

d)   supervise the use of rolling substitutes

e)   carry out any other duties as prescribed by the referee.

If an independent timekeeper/scorer is not nominated, these duties are the responsibility of the referee.


Law 7

Duration of the Came

In any one day, no player shall play more than the stipulated period outlined below. Within this maximum, the recommended duration of games is provided.


Each league/competition will determine its own playing time within the maximum time permitted. The half-time interval must not exceed five minutes.

Age Group Recommended playing time for each half Max. duration of participation per player per day
Over – 6’s and under 8’s 10 minutes 45 minutes
Over 8’s and under 10’s 15 minutes 60 minutes


Law 8

Start and Restart of Play


A kick-off is taken at the centre of the playing area to start the game and after a goal has been scored. Opponents must be 4.5m (5 yards) away from the ball, and in their own half of the field. The ball must be played forward.

Special Circumstances

A dropped ball, to restart the match after play has been temporarily stopped inside the penalty area, takes place on the penalty area line, parallel to the goal line, at that point nearest to where the ball was located when the play stopped

Law 9

Ball In and Out of Play

Ball In Play

The ball is in play at all other times, including when:

•    it rebounds from a goalpost, crossbar or corner-flag post and remains in the field of play

•    it rebounds from either the referee or an assistant referee when they are on the field of play.

Ball Out of Play

The ball is out of play when:

•    it has wholly crossed the goal line or touchline, whether on the ground or in the air

•    play has been stopped by the referee.

Law 10

Method of Scoring

Coal Scored

A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, between the goalposts and under the crossbar, provided that no infringement of the Laws of the Came has been committed previously by the team scoring the goal.

Winning Team

The team scoring the greater number of goals during a match is the winner. If both teams score an equal number of goals, or if no goals are scored, the match is drawn.

Competition Rules

For matches ending in a draw, competition rules may state provisions involving extra-time, or other procedures approved by the International FA Board, to determine the winner of a match.

Please note this must be included within the maximum participation time.

Law 11 Offside

There is no offside.

Law 12

Fouls and Misconduct

In Mini-Football, all free kicks are direct.

A free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following offences in a manner considered to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:

•  Kicks or attempts to kick an opponent.

•  Trips or attempts to trip an opponent.

•  Jumps at an opponent.

•  Charges an opponent.

•  Strikes or attempts to strike an opponent.

•   Pushes an opponent.

A free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following offences:

•    Tackles an opponent to gain possession of the ball, making contact with the opponent before touching the ball.

•    Holds an opponent.

•    Spits at an opponent.

•    Handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within their own penalty area).

•    Plays in a dangerous manner.

•    Impedes the progress of an opponent

•    Prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from their hands.

•    Commits any other offence, not previously mentioned in Law 12, for which play is stopped to caution or dismiss a player.

Penalty Kick

A penalty kick is awarded if any of the above offences are committed by a player inside their own penalty area, irrespective of the position of the ball, provided it is in play.

A free kick is awarded to the opposing team if the goalkeeper:

•    takes more than six seconds to release the ball from their hands

  • · touches the ball again with their hands after it has been released from their possession and has not touched any other player

•    touches the ball with their hands after it has been deliberately kicked to them by a teammate

•    touches the ball with their hands after they have received it directly from a throw-in taken by a teammate.

For all these offences, the free kick should be taken from the penalty area line, parallel with the goal line, at the nearest point to the offence.

Cautionable Offences

A player is cautioned and shown the yellow card if they commit any of the following seven offences:

1. Is guilty of unsporting behaviour.

2.  Shows dissent by word or action.

3.  Persistently infringes the Laws of the Came.

4.  Delays the restart of play.

5.   Fails to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick or free kick.

6.   Enters or re-enters the field of play without the referee’s permission.

7.    Deliberately leaves the field of play without the referee’s permission.

Sending-off Offences

A player is sent off and shown the red card if they commit any of the following seven offences:

1. Is guilty of serious foul play.

2. Is guilty of violent conduct.

3.  Spits at an opponent or any other person.

4.   Denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity, by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within their own penalty area).

5.   Denies an obvious goal-scoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or penalty kick.

6.   Uses offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures.

7.    Receives a second caution in the same match.

Law 13 Free Kicks

For all free kicks, opponents must be 4.5m (5 yards) from the ball.

Law 14 Penalty Kicks

A penalty kick is awarded for offences as described in Law 12. Position of the Ball and the Players

All players except the defending goalkeeper and kicker must be outside the penalty area and at least 4.5m (5 yards) from the penalty mark.

The ball must be kicked forward. Infringement/Sanctions

If a player or players commit an offence at the taking of a penalty kick, their team shall not be allowed to gain an advantage (ie the kick is retaken or the goal is disallowed, depending on which team offended).

If players of both the defending and the attacking teams offend, the kick shall be retaken.

Law 15 Throw-in

A goal cannot be scored directly from a throw-in. A throw-in is awarded:

•    when the whole of the ball passes over the touchline, either on the ground or in the air

•    from the point where it crossed the touchline

•    to the opponents of the player who last touched the ball.


At the moment of delivering the ball, the thrower:

•    faces the field of play

•    has part of each foot either on the touchline or on the ground outside the touchline

•    uses both hands

•    delivers the ball from behind and over their head.

throw-in is awarded to the opposing team, if any of these requirements are not carried out.

The thrower may not touch the ball again until it has touched another player. If they do, a free kick will be awarded against them. The ball is in play immediately when it enters the field of play.

Law 16 Goal Kick


A player of the defending team kicks the ball from any point within the penalty area.

Opponents must remain outside the penalty area and at least 4.5m (5 yards) from where the kick is taken until the ball is in play.

Law 17 Corner Kicks

The opposing players must remain at least 4.5m (5 yards) from the ball until it is in play.

The kicker may not touch the ball again until it has touched another player. If they do, a free kick is awarded against them.

The ball is in play immediately when it enters the field of play.

Remember to use all equipment, not just goalposts, safely at all times.

The Football Association, along with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Health and Safety Executive, and the British Standards Institution, would like to draw your attention to the following guidelines for the safe use of goalposts. Too many serious injuries and fatalities have occurred in recent years as a result of unsafe or incorrect use of goalposts. Safety is always of paramount importance and everyone in football must play their part to prevent similar incidents occurring in the future.

1.    For safety reasons, goalposts of any size (including those which are portable and not installed permanently at a pitch or practice field) must always be anchored securely to the ground.

•    Portable goalposts must be secured as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

•    Under no circumstances should children or adults be allowed to climb on, swing on or play with the structure of the goalposts.

•    Particular attention is drawn to the fact that, if not properly assembled and secured, portable goalposts may overturn.

•    Regular inspections of goalposts must be carried out to check that they are properly maintained.

2.   Portable goalposts should not be left in place after use. They should be dismantled and removed to a place of secure storage.

3.   Nets should only be secured by plastic hooks or tape, and not by metal cup hooks. Any metal cup hooks should be removed and replaced. New goalposts should not be purchased if they include metal cup hooks that cannot be replaced.

4.   Goalposts which are ‘home-made’ or which have been

altered from their original size or construction, should not be used. These have been the cause of a number of deaths and injuries.

5.   There is no BS/CEN or PAS standard for wooden goals and it is unlikely that wooden goals will pass a load or stability test. The FA recommends that wooden goals should be replaced when necessary with compliant metal or plastic goalposts.

For reference, you should note that The FA and BSI developed a standard for future purchases of Mini-Football goalposts – PAS 36:2000. Most other sizes of goalposts are covered by BSEN 748 (1996). Copies of both of these standards are available from BSI.

The FA, together with representatives from the industry, sports governing bodies and government, has prepared guidelines for pitch users and pitch providers, together with technical parameters for goalpost manufacturers. It is anticipated that details of these will feature on the FA’s website

Mini-Football Formats Introduction

Mini-Football embraces the concept of fun and enjoyment, which is vital if children are to develop a lifelong love for football.

Mini-Football is now recognised as the mandatory introduction to football for all under-lOs in England. All leagues and clubs who affiliate to The Football Association and offer opportunities to the under-10 age groups are required to play to the Laws of Mini-Football.

Mini-Football is played in a number of formats across England. Many leagues operate on a traditional ‘home’ and ‘away’ basis. Other leagues bring a number of teams to a single venue and play a number of games on the same day. Some leagues play on a ‘friendly’ basis with no league champions. Others offer cup

competitions. The format offered by individual leagues is determined by the league and its members within the Laws of Mini-Football.

Other formats of Mini-Football are also encouraged. Traditionally, Mini-Football has been used by clubs, schools, local authority schemes and others as a ‘turn-up-and-play’ opportunity, possibly for those children who may not be part of a team and for those who just love to play. Traditionally, these opportunities operated as the old ‘Mini-Football centres’ and took place after school, on the weekends or in school holidays. Such schemes are now required to affiliate to the relevant County Football Association and operate to the requirements detailed here.

Festivals have long been played as an end-of-season event, and during holiday periods. The format for under-lOs must be Mini-Football and guidelines for such events are also included.

Prerequisites for Operating Mini-Football

•    All games must comply with the Laws of Mini-Football.

•    Each game must be under the control of a referee, who must be over 14 years of age.

•    There must be opportunities for boys and girls to participate. Organisers should also be aware that Mini-Football provides an excellent introduction to football for disabled children.

•    The facility must have no unnecessary hazards. It must be safe and include the following:

a safe playing surface (including goalposts, see Goalpost Safety)

the use of toilets for both sexes

an adult with a minimum of an FA Emergency First Aid qualification, who must be on site at all times

high standards of behaviour, which are expected from all spectators, coaches, officials and players

appropriate Public Liability and Personal Accident Insurance, which must be obtained.

Minimum / maximum duration of play in any one day

Age Group Minimum Maximum
Over – 6’s and under 8’s 10 minutes 45 minutes
Over 8’s and under 10’s 15 minutes 60 minutes


The basic premise is that children under 10 years of age should not play more than one hour in any one day. The maximum time must also include any provision for extra-time, as per Law 7 of the Laws of Mini-Football.

Recommendation for Operating Club Festivals and Traditional Turn-up-and-play’ Mini-Football Centres

A programme of 6-10 sessions is recommended and the most popular periods are September, October, November, March, April and May.

Saturday and particularly Sunday mornings have proven to be the most popular times for operating.

Football clubs, schools, youth clubs, sports centres or similar venues can all be affiliated, providing the prerequisite criteria are met.

If you require further information, contact your local County Association.

Type of festival 12 x 6 foot goalposts Dedicated mini football pitches Appropriate entertainment and activities Qualified referees
National Festival Yes Yes Yes Yes
Regional Festival Yes Yes Yes Yes
County Festival Yes Yes Yes Yes
League Festival Yes No No No
Club Festival Yes No No No
Mini – Football Centre Yes No No No










Appropriate Competitive Formats for Children Playing Mini-Football

The central figure in the recommendation for The Football Association’s Charter for Quality is the player and his or her best interests. Attempting to provide quality experiences for all young players at all levels is the overriding principle. The Football Association, as a responsible governing body, insists on the following formats of participation being adhered to:

Age League League Cup Knockout competition County Cup Fun Festival
U8 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
U7 Yes No No No Yes

Please remember:

Under-7s are not permitted to play in leagues where results are collected or published or winner trophies are presented. This is deemed to be detrimental to the development of the player and the game, and will not be sanctioned.

The FA would strongly advise leagues and competitions to also consider implementing this at under-8.

Sanction for Mini-Football Festivals

Category Sanction Procedures
National Requires form D from the F.A – 25 Soho Square, London, W1D 4FA Tel 020 – 7745 – 4545
County Requires form D from the F.A – 25 Soho Square, London, W1D 4FA Tel 020 – 7745 – 4545
Club Affiliate as a club through local County Association
Turn up and play mini – football


Checklist for Organising a Mini-Football Festival

Although by no means exhaustive, many of the important criteria for organising a Festival are included below:

Pre-festival for National, Regional, County and League Events

•    Venue (NB parking, changing facilities, accessibility, dedicated Mini-Football pitches)

•    Equipment (NB goalposts, balls, bibs – where necessary)

•    Staff (NB first aiders, referees, administrators, security people)

•   Sanctioning of the festival

•   Refreshments

•  Additional entertainment and activities

•    Marketing of the festival (NB target audience, press releases etc)

•   Guest of honour

•   Sponsorship of event, where appropriate

•   Distribution of rules and joining instructions

•   Public announcement equipment

•   Budget

•   Fixture programme

The Day of the Festival

•    Administration area

•    Briefing of:

– staff

– referees

– managers.

•    Registration procedure

•    Pitch numbers

•    Fixtures

•    Signage

•    Certificates 

Organising Mini-Football Centres

•  Venue

•  Equipment (NB goalposts, balls, bibs)

•  Staff/helpers

•    Sanctioning of Mini-Football centre through County Association

•  Advertising

•  Programme of sessions (eg 6 weeks, 10 weeks)

•  Costs to players

•   Codes of conduct

•  Application forms

•   Registration procedure

•  Certificates

Tournaments, cups, leagues and competitions are not allowed at Mini-Football centres. The game is deemed as a sufficient challenge. All players should receive certificates for playing.

Family and friends are welcome, but high standards of behaviour are expected from both adults and children alike.

Useful Information Affiliation

All clubs, leagues, Mini-Football centres and festivals must be affiliated. Affiliation provides a quality control, as well as many other benefits (eg access to referees, insurance, funding opportunities). Every County Football Association has a Mini-Football coordinator who is available to support and advise on Mini-Football issues. A number of County FAs also have a Football Development Officer to support local football.

Contact your County Football Association for further details. Schools

Schools should be affiliated to the English Schools Football Association. For more information on schools football, contact:

English Schools Football Association

1 -2 Eastgate Street Stafford ST16 2NQ

Tel: 01785-251 142

Posted in
Football News Hot Coaching Topics Latest Coaching Resources Other Football Stuff Uncategorized