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Why AYSO Recommends No Goalkeepers in U-8

   Soccer games without goalkeepers provide a better experience for young children for several reasons, which is why not only AYSO but U.S. Youth Soccer and the U.S. Soccer Federation discourage the use of goalkeepers at the U-8 level and below.

First of all, the goalkeeper is denied a chance to run around and chase the ball. The boy or girl who must guard the goal is being prevented from doing what he or she signed up for - play soccer!

Depending on the game, the young goalkeeper is in danger of being bored (if the action is on the other end) and getting discouraged if the ball keeps flying into the goal.

In the worst-case scenario, players who are forced to play goalkeeper at the early ages lose their enthusiasm for the sport.

Also, we want young players to shoot at goal as much as possible, because striking the ball is such an important skill for players to master. Young kids are more likely to shoot often when they're aiming a goalkeeper-free net. With a goalkeeper there, they become apprehensive, looking for the perfect shot that they are not physically mature enough to pull off.

Nor are the very young kids physically prepared to make saves. They may get in front of a tough shot now and again, but they just don't have the tools for the position's requirements and are inclined to feel devastated when scored upon.

In fact, not using goalkeepers makes the coach's job much easier because the coach doesn't need to cajole players to take turns in goal.

And the use of goalkeepers at such young ages also creates a temptation for the coach to make his bigger and more advanced athletes play goalkeeper, because this will greatly increase his team's chances of winning. In other words, the use of goalkeepers encourages the results-driven approach to coaching that hinders long-term player development and can suck the fun out of soccer. The players who are more advanced athletically at the young ages shouldn't be kept from enjoying field play so that the coach can rack up some wins.

When goalkeepers are used, at the U-10 level for example, the goalkeepers should be rotated frequently. Even players who enjoy playing goalkeeper should not be restricted to the position and should get plenty of time playing in the field. Players shouldn't specialize at any one position until they are well into their teens.

Many of the nation's best goalkeepers - Hope Solo, Tim Howard, Brad Friedel and AYSO alum Brad Guzan - spent much of their youth as field players. This not only prevented them from burning out on the position, but honed the foot skills goalkeepers need and their ability to read the game, which is crucial to being good goalkeeper.

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