The purpose of the Lawrence Hamnett Soccer Association is to develop, promote, govern, and perpetuate the game of soccer for the youth of Lawrence Township, NJ. It is our goal to provide a soccer environment that stresses a relaxed, fun-oriented approach

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15 NOVEMBER 2013

Lawrence Hamnett Soccer Association and its advocacy of the national development movement to staying "small-sided longer"

Over the past few years, there has been a nationally-coordinated movement to alter the game “structure” of youth soccer competition by emphasizing short-sided games. The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) has strongly embraced the approach of ‘staying small-sided longer’ after studying its successful application in the top European clubs and national teams (e.g. Belgium, Spain, Holland, Germany) who emphasize the development of players over winning within their youth programs. 

"Small-Sided Games"  consist of a format whereby fewer players compete on a smaller-sized field in an open format without the rigid constraints of positions. Consequently, these games involve more frequent touching of the ball for all players, greatly facilitating technical proficiency, creativity/improvisation, and fun. All ages can play "small-sided games", but its developmental impact is maximized for younger soccer players (U12 and younger). 

The map* to the left illustrates the widespread U.S. adoption towards implementation of short-sided competition in the approach to player development. States marked in RED have
mandated short-sided fixtures for youth competition. BLUE states are not yet in the mandatory stage, but have an increasing presence of clubs/leagues offering the option.

*Reference: US Youth Soccer website, November 2013.

There are numerous tangible benefits of short-sided games (as recognized by the USSF and US Youth Soccer):


  • More frequent touches facilitating greater individual ball handling skills (technical development)
  • Opportunity to make more decisions during the game without the constraints of positions (tactical development)
  • Better alignment between players' physical abilities and field size (physical development)
  • Enhanced access and opportunities for individual coaching and guidance (individual player development)
  • Every player has increased involvement in the game - no hiding (enhanced decision making, individual psychosocial development)
  • More opportunities to play on both sides of the ball - offensive and defensive - greatly enhanced exposure to "transition play" (tactical development)
  • More opportunities to score goals (greater game enjoyment and player development)

Lawrence Hamnett Soccer Association (LHSA) has joined a legion of highly regarded New Jersey clubs including Player Development Academy (PDA), New Jersey Soccer Academy (NJSA), Parsippany Soccer Association, Greater Flemington Soccer Club, Jackson Soccer Association, Princeton Soccer Association, etc., all committed to the philosophy of staying ‘short-sided longer’ . There is mutual recognition it is the most effective and efficient way to foster and facilitate player development and to stimulate players’ collective enjoyment of the game. 

LHSA is committed to staying ‘small-sided longer’ and is in the process of transitioning this approach into its competitive division curriculum. Currently, U8 - U12 competitive teams are engaged full-time with this approach in their competition for 2016-17.  Venues in which teams are competing include:


  • Mid New Jersey Soccer Youth Soccer Association (7v7 format for U-9 and U-10; 9v9 format for U-11 and U-12)
  • South Jersey Girls Soccer League (7v7 format for U-9 and U-10; 9v9 format for U-11 and U-12)
  • MSSL / Eastern Development Program 
  • Penn-Jersey regional 5v5 festival collaboration (Council Rock United, FC Bucks, Yardley-Makefield Soccer (YMS), United German Hungarians SC, Greater Flemington SC, Patriot FC, Bordentown Community SA, Montgomery FC)

LHSA invites its constituency to attend and witness these festivals which serve as a league structure and  supporting testament to the USSF's  adoption of a global philosophy on teaching and delivering the sport to our players. Questions about this approach and philosophy as it relates to LHSA's competitive program can be sent to