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German Youth Football (Soccer) Restructure

Taking on a player-centered approach, they have decided to scrap the traditional small-sided games format and adopted a unique look at providing more opportunities and challenges within their games with minimal interaction from their coaches and parents.

Vice President Ronny Zimmermann, who is responsible for children’s and youth football, was quoted saying, “We need to think like children, not like adults. Only children who develop fun and joy in the game will stay in football.” Encouraging an emphasis on fun and a player-centered focus.

The original format of a small-sided game didn’t really suit the whole player, where you’d find the smaller, less physical, or technical players have limited time in possession. Having coaches, parents, and officials dictating the game has now been given back to the children who play it in this new style of play.

The DFB’s new regulation principles:

  • Games that challenge the whole player
  • Reduced game time
  • Rotation for EVERYONE
  • No Officials, minimal involvement from coaches & parents 
  • Festivals rather than single matches or leagues
  • Heading eliminated (practically)

The DFB has piloted this transition over the last 2 years with all 21 regional associations, where feedback from the children was positive and more about them than the parents or coaches.

All clubs in Germany will have until the start of the 2024/25 season to introduce this new format, as it will be mandatory for ALL associated clubs.  Providing young children more chances to score goals and play with the ball is at the front of the DFB’s mindset.

How the new format will look

G-Youth (U6 & U7’s):

  • 2v2 or 3v3 (optional)
  • Pitch dimensions; 16mx20m (Minimum) – 28mx22m (Maximum)
  • Maximum of 2 Substitutes
  • 4 target goals: each team will defend 2 wide goals
  • End zones to finish in only
  • No Goalkeeper
  • After each goal, both teams must rotate a player
  • The game is restarted by passing in or dribbling in from where the ball goes out

Festival Formats

  • 10-minute games (7 rounds maximum)
  • Progression and Relegation over everyone plays everyone (provides a competitive balance between the teams and less frustration for the children)

F-Youth (U8 & U9):

  • 3v3 games or 5v5 (maximum dimensions)
  • Target goals become optional
  • Goalkeepers only introduced normal goals
  • Playing time increases to 12 minutes, same principles of previous festivals
  • The game is restarted by passing in or dribbling in from where the ball goes out

E-Jugend (U10 & U11):

  • 5v5 or 7v7
  • Throw-ins are now introduced
  • Set Goalkeeper is introduced here
  • Tournament format now consists of a maximum of 4 teams, and playing time for each game is 2 x 12 minutes each

The biggest focus for the DFB was to provide opportunities for more touches for their younger players. The physical dominance that is currently seen in youth football will be limited, and all different types of players will have a chance to excel and develop technically and psychologically.

With limited interactions from the coaches and parents, the tactical side of the game is now created and imposed by the children, as they will see and feel the game as well as be able to find their own solutions to it. Tactics directed by the coaches tend to come from an 11-aside mentality and don’t suit the development structure required for the progression of the youth game; many studies have proven this. A training session that has been utilized in every place we have visited is the 4-goal game; we have seen this advance into a 6-goal system. This session is excellent for getting so many outcomes. This practice is and will always be implemented due to its ever-evolving nature, though building a youth development program on it is some advancement and will meet some questions and challenges.

Match Officials

Not having officials in the younger age group games will free more up for to complete older age groups which will reduce the number of officials required across the whole of German football. The rules will be implemented by the coaches as joint masters and only intervene when necessary.

Abolishment of Heading

With the new format, the games don’t require heading to take place, and even though it isn’t in the rules ‘not to the header,’ it’s more of a case of they don’t need to. The DFB has taken a step towards dealing with the recent research into concussion and head trauma in young children without having to ban heading, which has been imposed by other countries.

Why has this been done?

After the German national sides have failed to make much of an impact on the international stage in recent years, it was felt that though short-term success was gained after their previous intervention there was no long-term outcome. This format will help support the development of its younger players for a long time.

Koach Karl’s Notes:

Thank you for reading/exploring the ‘German Youth Football Restructure!’ More exciting insights and proposed cutting-edge changes are coming your way on Monday.

Stay tuned for the next chapter; in the meantime, send us your comments/ideas and consider becoming a supporter of the SOCCERevolution!