The Process:

  • Whenever a ball goes OUT OF PLAY or a GOAL IS SCORED, a coach announces "New Ball!" and rolls another ball into play.  
    • NO KICK OFFS after a Goal! 
    • NO KICK-INS! 
  • There is no referee. The coaches are responsible for controlling the game
  • Substitutions are done "on the fly" like hockey.  When a player gets tired or the coach wants to make a substitution, the player runs off the field and a new player runs on.  No stoppage.
  • U5 games consist of four, (8)-minute quarters, with a (2) minute break between quarters, and a (5) minute break at the half.

Tips for Success:

  • Several balls are required for this method.  Use a regular "kick-off" to start each half.
  • The two coaches assign themselves each to half of the field and carry one or two balls in their arms. 
  • If the ball goes slightly out of play, but the player dribbles the ball back in, that’s ok - let them play on!
  • The ‘new ball’ should be rolled to neutral space or toward the disadvantaged team.
  • Coaches control the pace of the game.  You may need to pause for a few seconds before distributing a new ball, especially after a goal.  Give the players several seconds to re-set and rest after a goal.  Roll the new ball in near the center of the field toward the team that was scored against.
  • DO NOT bounce the ‘new ball’ as it is difficult for these players to judge a bouncing ball at this age
  • Favor the team on the wrong end of a one sided game
  • Favor individual players who are not becoming involved in the game
  • Have parents retrieve lost balls and return them to the coach who just rolled the new ball in so he/she now has 2 balls once more!

YouTube Video

Frequently Asked Questions:
  • Why use the New Ball Method?
    • More touches on the ball:  This method doubled or tripled the number of touches by each player in a study conducted in 2001/2002 by the Richmond Hill SA in Georgia.  More touches means faster skill development and increased enjoyment of the game.
    • More playing time: Indiana Youth Soccer studied the effect of the New Ball Method and found that in 7 minute quarter, the ball was in play for 4 minutes using traditional rules, and about 6 minutes and 30 seconds using the New Ball Method
    • This method will speed up the game, produce more goals and more excitement, while at the same time de-emphasizing the importance of scoring and emphasizing play and fun.
    • This method can be used to get non-assertive players involved by rolling the new ball to those players; and can be used to even the playing field in a lopsided game.  At this age, score is not kept, there is no win/loss record, and the emphasis is on playing, having fun and sportsmanship, not winning.
    • Unlike at the higher levels, at this age, goal kicks, corner kicks, and kick-ins do not provide the tactical advantage for the kicking team, and can often be a disadvantage.  Consequently, re-starts substantially slow the game with no benefit to the player or spectator.
    • The New Ball Method has proven to be a great success with clubs around the country that have adopted it.
  • Since there is no referee who calls the fouls?
    • Fouls at this age are almost always innocent, and result from lack of coordination rather than malicious intent, so fouls should almost never be called--a player can be substituted and instructed on the rules of play when that player comes off the field.  
    • Players are rarely hurt (other than hurt feelings) by a foul at this age, and since score is not kept and records are not important, any tactical advantage obtained by a foul is meaningless, and can be corrected with the next "new ball."
    • If necessary, one coach can be assigned to each half of the game to call only the most blatant fouls.
  • Who keeps time? 
    • The coaches keep time (alternating quarters), or a volunteer parent can keep time.
    • Time limits must be adhered to in order to prevent delays of all the games later that day.
    • Coaches should familiarize themselves with the rules of play for this age group
    • Note that the rules of play are much simpler with the New Ball Method