In a recent article in The New York Times, June 10, 2014, David Epstein wrote an op-ed addressing two key issues in youth sports today, field size and specialization.
" Several studies on skill acquisition now show that elite athletes generally practiced their sport less through their early teenage years and specialized only in the mid-to-late teenage years, while so-called sub-elites — those who never quite cracked the highest ranks — homed in on a single sport much sooner." -- Epstein
"Because families with greater financial resources were better able to facilitate the travel and private coaching that specialization requires, socioeconomic status turned up as a positive predictor of serious injury." --Epstein
AYSO, 50 years ago, addressed both of these issues by formalizing, for the first time in youth sports, small sided fields, small equipment, smaller teams, and simplified rules, appropriate to the age level. AYSO encourages players to play many sports, not just soccer, recognizing the injury prone-nature of repeated same-stress on growing bones, joints and muscles. Additionally, AYSO policy is to discourage specialization within the sport of soccer in young divisions, and only in u10 is position specialization permitted to begin, and not until U12 is position specialization encouraged.
Read the full article here.