"Why does AYSO recommend no goalkeepers in U-8? Is this really soccer?"
In their early
experience with soccer, we want young players to shoot on goal as much as
possible, because striking the ball is such an important skill for players to
master. Young kids are more likely to shoot often when they're aiming at a
goalkeeper-free net. With a goalkeeper there, they become apprehensive, looking
for the perfect shot that they are not physically mature enough to pull off.
Coaches and parents who have soccer knowledge, but not much experience with coaching young children, are most often the proponents of including goalkeepers in soccer games with even our youngest kids. They mean well, but don't realize that there is a more effective way of teaching soccer skills at this early age.
The use of
goalkeepers at such young ages creates a temptation for the coach to make his
bigger and more advanced athletes play goalkeeper, because this will greatly
increase his team's chances of winning. In other words, the use of goalkeepers
encourages the results-driven approach to coaching that hinders long-term player
development and can suck the fun out of soccer. The players who are more
advanced athletically at the young ages shouldn't be kept from enjoying field
play so that the coach can rack up some wins.