The retreat line – guidance for coaches

Guidance is available for coaches getting used to the new ‘retreat line’ employed in mini soccer

The halfway line is no longer just a halfway line for England’s youngest footballers.

Since the start of last season, for players from under-7s up to under-10s, it is also now a ‘retreat line’ – a new addition to the rules of mini-soccer to help teams learn to play the ball out from the back.

The new measure, which requires all defending players to retreat into their own half, was welcomed by 76 percent of Club Website members involved in youth football in a December 2013 poll – a few months after its implementation.

Nick Levett, the FA’s National Development Manager for Youth and Mini Soccer told Club Website last month that the new retreat line has been largely “well received” but, as expected for any new rule, it has not been without its teething problems.

Some coaches have been using the rule as an opportunity to line up their players and effectively charge the first player to receive the ball (see image above).

As one reader, Thomas, commented on last month’s article: “We found that as soon as the keeper played it out you had three players steaming towards him and he just booted it up the field, it made every team we played do the same… good idea in theory but in practice not so good.”

This clearly goes against what the retreat line was designed for, so the FA created a presentation to support the introduction of the retreat line and help coaches to understand how it can help to develop players.

For those coaches yet to view it, the presentation includes the background, research and rationale behind the retreat line, an overview of the changes and the FA’s findings so far.

On the issue of ‘charging’ players at goal kicks, the FA says that managers and coaches “need to consider the bigger picture of helping ALL players get better at learning the game”, both when defending and attacking, and asks them to help educate others.

All coaches are encouraged to read the presentation on the retreat line to help with its continued implementation, while those looking for further assistance are advised to contact their County FA, many of whom are organising Continuing Professional Development (CPD) on the retreat line.

Download the presentation: Developing the next generation – The retreat line (PDF file)

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Dan Pope
Writer at Teamer
Freelance writer, editor and copywriter, with a passion for grassroots sport. A right back turned football writer, Dan is the former editor of Club Website and has been lucky enough to work in the field of grassroots and community sport for the last 10 years.

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  1. Mark on July 25, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    An interesting presentation yet the slides only add to how best not to use the retreat line.
    Complimenting the various slides with a number of more slides showing the ball coming out through the middle or to the left side with a right footed player waiting to receive the ball and thus confidently pass out to his right wing would enable the players to make decisions. Short passes into the middle, long route one passes every now and then to keep the opposing vikings at bay, confident passes across goal (coaches and parents please let the children do it), the usual down the line passes – varying the options will give the players in possession the power to dictate play, pace and direction.

  2. Ted Wyatt on February 24, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    Dear sir,could you please explain why,Professional clubs with academies,that have mini soccer teams, do not implement the retreat line rule.When this rule was introduced it was made mandatory for all mini soccer games. Yours in Sport Ted Wyatt.

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