Retreat line in mini soccer is a good thing … do you have a different view?

retreat line

In mini-soccer, the FA introduced a rule concerning goal kicks. The rule reads “Law 16. Goal Kick. Procedure. A player of the defending team kicks the ball from any point within the penalty area. Opponents must retreat to their own half until the ball is in play. The defending team does not have to wait for the opposition to retreat and has the option to restart the game before should they choose to. The ball is in play when it is kicked directly out the penalty area.”

I think that it is a good thing for the age group I coach (under 7’s) for the reasons I will explain below. Others disagree though. It is a rule that divides opinion, and I’d love to hear what you think about it in the comments?

Pro retreat line.

The biggest benefit of the retreat line is that it encourages players to play football, with the ball on the ground. Imagine the scenario without a retreat line … a goalkeeper looks up, ready to take a goal kick, and all four of his outfield players are marked. In that scenario, the goalkeeper is likely to try and kick it long. The understandable rationale being that if the ball is going to be lost then it is done as far away from their goal as possible.

I believe that the retreat line offers the goalkeeper an easy pass, to feet, and encourages the team to pass and move from there. Not only does that encourage the passing of the ball, it offers all players more touches of the ball, which will aid their long-term development. More touches = better ball mastery. Or as your parents used to drum into you, practice makes perfect. The whole reason that mini-soccer was introduced was to offer more touches of the ball to each player.

Too often in the past, English coaches would encourage defenders not to play with the ball. Cries from the touchline of ‘get rid’ directed defenders to lump it forward the big lad up front, and that tactic robs the other defenders and the entire midfield from a touch of the ball. That is one thing if you are a Premiership manager trying to set up to play to the strengths of the players you have, but if you are trying to develop young players, then I think it is better to encourage them to receive and pass the ball more often.

As with many things in youth coaching, I think it comes back to the fundamental motivation of the coach. Are you trying to win this game, or develop the players in it for the long-term? If it is the former then your thinking will be about getting the players ready for that game, if it is the latter, you will see the game as another opportunity for the players to develop skills.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts? Please leave a comment.

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4 Replies to “Retreat line in mini soccer is a good thing … do you have a different view?”

  1. Firstly like yourself I’m fully for the boys getting loads of touches with maximum playing time , having played two seasons without the rule and then being made to introduce at start of this season I’ve seen teams change from playing exciting passing football to long balls from a defender to two big strikers unmarked .
    I feel good coaches will always develop there players to play the right way , but with taking away the presure on defenders is that not losing key development points “composure” “control” “creativity” the more we change the less the boys are prepared when moving to either 9 v 9 or 11 v 11 ?
    Just let them play.

  2. Hi Daniel, it is interesting that you have seen your team move from passing to long ball after the rule, the opposite of what was intended, what do you put that down to?

    I don’t think that the rule takes away the pressure on defenders actually, it merely gives them a window of opportunity to receive, get their head up and find a pass. In my experience the opposing team race into your half as soon as the goalkeeper plays the pass, and the time the defender has is still very limited. At under 7’s level I think that window is important though, because if the goalkeeper saw an opposition player standing right next to their defender for example, they are unlikely to pass the ball to the defender in the first place. In that scenario the defender not only isn’t challenged, but they are also not developing as the ball sails over their heads 🙂

    I understand your point about preparing the boys for when they move up to 9v9 or 11v11 matches, but for me that is part of their development. The work we do with them now will prepare them to take on greater challenges when they are older. Moving from 5v5 with the retreat rule to 7v7 without it is a longer version of a training drill. The process of most training drills is to start with an easy game, non-opposed, and then introduce progressions that slowly make the game more difficult. I think of the retreat rule as a progression. Does that make sense?

  3. Hi mike , firstly I agree with all your points and especially more for the younger age groups.
    Are team has always played a passing style football and we haven’t changed but I’ve seen teams change .
    This season we as a team have focused on being able to win our 1 v 1 / attacking space.
    I feel with constantly drilling your players to pass ,pass pass,when faced with situations on the pitch when the pass isn’t on being able to beat your defender is a must , even more inportant when moving to 9 a side /bigger pitches.
    Retreat lines been good but know we move to the Offside rule ?

    1. Hi Daniel,

      I agree that 1v1’s are also important, although do you not find that with no coaching at all, young players try to beat a player naturally, rather than pass? 🙂

      I think the offside rule starts in 9v9 football, so under 11 age group.

      An environment where the player is encouraged to try what they feel is right in any given circumstance is probably the ideal right?

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