Be thoughtful in your team formation.

When looking for a player, consider these factors at a minimum :

  • Make sure you are looking at the right age group. Teams are organized by the age and gender of the players. Players may play on a team in an older age group but not a younger one. Players fall into different age groups based on the Age Chart - links to which can be found at right. There are no waivers or exceptions to this grouping.

  • Make sure your team has enough players to register. In particular, pay attention to Team Minimums (for example, the roster minimum changes between U8 and U9 and then again at U12.) Do not over-commit and subject players to last-minute scrambling to find a team.

  • Practice times and locations to fit your players' situation. Set expectations for attendance, number and length of practices - and generally where your team tries to secure practices (since the location is never a guarantee season over season).

  • Player Strength / Playing Level: Players register for your team for a full soccer year. If a player is not a great fit, he or she will be compelled to transfer or worse not play at all because the effort to keep up made for a bad experience. 

  • Coaching Cost and Coaching Credentials: Teams have different types of coaches and coaching styles. Are you a volunteer parent coach or a paid professional? Does your team utilize both? Make sure you make clear all fees associated with playing on your team.


Many players would love to play socially with their school or neighborhood friends and also competitively, with a more advanced team. This is not allowed in San Francisco. There are simply not enough resources to facilitate, nor will our league insurance cover a player registered on more than one team. So be clear with your prospective players about your team strength and style of play.



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We do counsel these general principles:

  • keep all kids active, rather than in line;
  • facilitate maximum touches of the ball during practice time, by having a ball at their feet constantly and running small-sided games;
  • drills should be demonstrated quickly, not wasting time;
  • find a few drills that your team enjoys, and repeat them, rather than spending every practice attempting to instruct on something new;
  • don't be stubborn, admit when a drill isn't working and abandon it.

Remember, the most important thing for a player’s development is to simply continue playing. This means they should be enjoying themselves, and they should feel a genuine desire to continue on the following season – not just an obligation to do so. The best way to foster this intrinsic love of the game is to put the team and the players in situations where they are challenged but not overwhelmed.

Check out the new SFYS Forums for coaches to share drills, tips and tricks, but in the meantime, check out Coach Po's U8 & U9 A.C. Swampfire's team page for instructional videos.


Modified Game Rules

At SFYS we are committed to maximizing the playing experience for our recreational players. Examples of our modified Playing Rules include:

  • 50% Mandatory player participation for every game - We assure this by instituting mandatory substitution times in the younger age groups. From U12-U14 we expect the coaches to sub out so that every player is still playing 50%


  • Lopsided goal/mercy rule - If a team is winning by four goals, that winning team must take a player off the field to help balance the game

More Relaxed Time Commitment
Recreational teams get 1 game and 1 practice a week during the seasons. Also, there is no yearlong commitment to play. A number of recreational teams only play the fall season and then switch to a different sport to play in the spring, while competitive teams must play at least 3 seasons and participate in tournaments.

Adapted Brackets
Prior to a season, we do our best to schedule your team against equivalent – this is why we require all teams to fill out a
Rec Team Census, to get an estimate of each team's strength level. Midway through the season, the League evaluates the scores and game reports to and tweak the bracketing to improve the competitiveness of the remaining games. 

Every year, coaches overestimate their team, unintentionally, or sometimes underestimate their team, intentionally – hoping to boost their team’s confidence by getting scheduled against weaker opponents. This is not fair to the opponent and not good for the kids. SF Youth Soccer believes all kids should learn how to lose as well as win. Losses give players, and teams, a chance to learn valuable lessons: it stimulates them to work harder in practice to get better; they learn to fight back, during a game, playing from behind; they learn it’s not the end of the world to lose.