The recreational program spans the U6 (under 6) through U14 (under 14) age brackets. Teams are composed of two year age spans (i.e., U8 teams have U7 and U8 players, U10 teams have U9 and U10 players, etc.). All teams are coed. Teams are organized based upon school districts when possible. Practices are held twice a week. For the U6 age bracket, a White Rock group and a Los Alamos group are formed. The U6 groups are not split into formal teams and are not scheduled for formal games. The primary emphasis is having fun with the ball and learning ball handling skills. For other age groups, teams of 10-12 players are generally formed. For the U8 and U10 age groups, a combined group academy style training session is held once a week in both White Rock and Los Alamos. In these academy sessions, the players rotate through training stations in small groups. For ages U10 and older, some interleague play is arranged with nearby leagues such as Northern (Santa Fe). Thus, occasionally games will be held at the other league's fields such as the Santa Fe Downs. For the U12 and U14 groups, a greater fraction of the games may involve interleague play as there are fewer LAYSL teams to play. In addition, the older teams may play against the LAYSL competitive teams if the coach desires. LAYSL games are held on Friday nights and Saturday mornings at fields in Los Alamos and White Rock. Interleague games are held on Sat. morning. Games with competitive teams occur during the school week. Recreational games occur over a 6-8 week period with each team having a minimum of 6 games/season.
To promote better technical development of our players, LAYSL uses the US Youth Soccer recommended small sided game format (http://www.usyouthsoccer.org/coaches/RulesSmallGames/). U8 teams play 4 v 4, U10 plays 6 v 6, and U12 play 8 v 8. For the U8 level, two simultaneous games are played to keep all the players engaged. For young players, the small sided format is critical to ensure that all players get many touches on the ball and are not overwhelmed by the tactical complications of a larger sided game. In the long term, getting many touches help the players develop the technical skills needed for playing 11 v 11 when they are older. The small sided format helps prevent the "bunch ball" game that occurs when players who are too young to understand team tactics attempt to play a large sided game. Small sided games are an acknowledgement that children do not understand the game the way that adults do.
Coaches for the recreational teams are usually team parents. LAYSL relies heavily on our coaching volunteers and we are often looking for more volunteers. Coaching classes are available through New Mexico Youth Soccer and LAYSL has a library of practice plans for coaches to utilize. In addition, our experienced and licensed coaches often share practice plans with other coaches. Assisting an experienced coach is also a good way of learning how to coach. Experience is not a requirement to become a coach. If you have interest in coaching, please be sure to contact the recreational coordinator through our email form on our homepage.