- Law 1: "The Field of Play"
- Law 2: "The Ball"
- Law 3: "The Number of Players"
- Law 4: "The Players' Equipment"
- Law 5: "The Referee"
- Law 6: "The Assistant Referees"
- Law 7: "The Duration of the Match"
- Law 8: "The Start and Restart of Play"
- Law 9: "The Ball in and out of Play"
- Law 10: "The Method of Scoring"
- Law 11: "Offside"
- Law 12: "Fouls & Misconduct"
- Law 13: "Free Kicks"
- Law 14: "The Penalty Kick"
- Law 15: "The Throw-in"
- Law 16: "The Goal Kick"
- Law 17: "The Corner Kick"
- Table I: Modifications for OYSC Play
- Table II: Substitution Modifications for OYSC Play
This summary is designed to enhance your understanding and enjoyment of the game of soccer. The described modifications to the laws are those used by the Oshkosh Youth Soccer Club (OYSC).
Soccer has some major differences from other major sports. It may seem unusual for a game to be played with no time outs, the same players trying to score and to defend, and not being able to use your hands! For those who watch American football and hockey, the fact that offsides is a moving position may be confusing.
Actually the game of soccer can be traced back as far as 3000 B.C. where the game was played with a goat's bladder filled with horse hair. (Aren't you glad we have evolved?) In 1848 in Great Britain, the 14 "Cambridge Rules" were developed and they have remained basically the same today, with only a few minor changes.
Today we have 17 rules, which are known throughout the world as "The Laws of the Game" governed by the Federation International de Football Association (FIFA). Some of the laws, most notably the dimensions of the field and protocols for substitution, may be modified for youth play. At the end of this rule book is a chart summarizing many of the modifications used by OYSC.
This booklet is a brief explanation of these laws. Its sole purpose is for your understanding. If you are interested in explanations of specific interpretations of the rules, please contact OYSC at the address listed at the end of this publication.
This Law establishes the dimensions of a regulation size soccer field.
The major difference between soccer and most of the field games we know is that these dimensions are given in a range – Length - Not more than 130 yards and not less than 100 yards. Width - Not more than 100 yards and not less than 50 yards. Length must always exceed the width. This Law also sets the size of the penalty area, goal area, center circle and corner arcs. See Table 1 for OYSC modifications by age group.
This law describes the size, weight and material of a soccer ball.
These numbers are given as a range: Not more than 28 inches and not less than 27 inches in circumference. Not more than 16 ounces and not less than 14 ounces in weight. Made of leather or an approved material. (This describes a size 5 ball.) See Table 1 for OYSC modifications by age group.
Law 3 states that the game shall consist of two teams with not more than 11 players on each, one of which must be designated as a goalie..
OYSC allows a maximum of eleven (11) players for U10 through U19, nine (9) players for U8, and five (5) players for U6. There is also a minimum number of players required. In U10 through U19 a minimum of seven (7) players must be on the field. In U8 the minimum is six (6) players, and in U6 it is four (4) players.
If at any time during the match the number of eligible players falls below the minimum, due to absence, injury or disqualification, the match will be forfeited by that team, regardless of the score or time remaining.
This law also dictates the number of substitutes unless the teams (leagues) have agreed on a different procedure. See the modifications in Table II.
This law states that all players will wear a shirt, shorts, socks, shin guards and shoes.
Shin guards must be covered completely by socks and must provide reasonable protection.
A player is not allowed to wear anything, which is dangerous to him or herself, or another player, e.g. any visible jewelry including, but not limited to earrings, watches, bracelets or anything else deemed dangerous by the Referee.
The goalkeepers must wear colors that clearly distinguish them from the rest of the players and the referee(s).
If a player is going to wear cleated shoes, they must be molded soccer shoes with no toe cleat. The cleat edges must be rounded, not sharp. It is acceptable to wear regular tennis shoes. Shoes will be inspected by the Referee every game. A player will not be allowed to play if the Referee deems their shoes to be dangerous. Do not tell the Referee, "it was OK last week" because chances are if it's not OK now it should not have been OK then.
OYSC will not allow any player to play a match with a ripped or torn jersey.
Law 5 states that a referee must be appointed for each game.
The referee's authority begins the moment he/she enters the field and is in effect until he/she leaves.
The official shall:
- Enforce the Laws.
- Refrain from penalizing if that penalty would result in an advantage for the offending team.
- Keep a record of the game.
- Control the game clock and stop the game for any reason deemed necessary. This includes injuries. The referee will determine based on age of players and severity of injury if the game should be stopped immediately or allowed to continue to a natural stoppage. DO NOT encourage players to “sit down” until after the whistle stops play.
- Caution (yellow card) any player guilty of misconduct or unsporting conduct.
- Allow no person other than the players onto the field without the official’s permission.
- Send off (red card) a player guilty of violent conduct, serious foul play, foul or abusive language, a tactical foul or has received a second caution.
- Suspend or terminates the match if necessary for weather or outside interference.
ABSOLUTELY NO matches will be played in OYSC if there is not a referee present. Coaches are instructed what to do if an official is not present. Only OYSC certified referees are allowed to officiate an OYSC match.
The Assistant Referees are charged with assisting the referee to control the match. They are to indicate ball out of touch, offside offenses and fouls that the referee may not have seen.
In age groups above U10, OYSC uses two or more officials whenever possible. This allows coverage of the traditional assistant referee responsibilities.
In younger age groups, OYSC uses "club linesmen" to signal when the ball goes out of bounds. These "club linesmen" are usually volunteers from among the spectators watching the game chosen by the referee. Their authority does not allow them to decide possession or offside.
The game shall consist of two equal periods of 45 minutes and a half time break. Lengths of halves may be altered for youth play. OYSC uses 22 minutes for U6 (divided into quarters); 25 minutes in U8 and U10; 30 minutes in U12; and 35 minutes in U14, U16 and U19 per half.
Time shall be added at the referee’s discretion for things such as injury, substitution, time wasting or for the taking of a penalty kick if time expires during the taking of the penalty kick.
The OYSC Board, as the governing body, determines the outcome of a match. As a rule of thumb, a game will be considered a complete game if the first half has been completed. If the game must be called for any reason (e.g. severe weather, lightning, unplayable conditions) before the first half has ended, it will usually be replayed in its entirety.
A coin toss shall decide ball possession and side of field. The team which wins the toss decides which goal it will attack, and the other team takes the kick-off.
On the kick-off, all players must be within their own side of the field. Players from the defending team must be a minimum of 10 yards (outside the center circle) from the ball until the ball is kicked. The ball must move into the opponent’s side of the field before it is considered in play. The kicker may not touch the ball a second time before it has touched another player.
After a goal is scored, the game shall be restarted in the same manner by the team losing the goal.
At the beginning of the second half, teams will switch halves of the field. The kick off shall be taken by the team which defended the first half kick off.
Any violation of this law will result in the retaking of the kick, except if the kicker kicks the ball twice without another player touching it; this will give the opposing team an indirect free kick from that spot.
A goal can be scored directly from a kick-off.
The ball is out of play when it has passed entirely over the touch (side) line or goal (end) line. If any part of the ball is not outside of the line, it is still in play. The position of the player is irrelevant.
The ball is out of play when play has been stopped by the referee.
The ball is in play at all other times during the game including rebounds off of the goal posts, corner flags or referee.
A goal is scored by the attacking team when the entire ball passes completely over the goal line, between and under the goal post, as long as no attacking player has committed an infringement of the Laws of the Game. The defense cannot score an own goal on their own free kick.
Offside is determined in two parts – offside position and offside offense. It is not an offense to be in an offside position.
A player is in an offside position when he/she is nearer to the opponent’s goal line than the ball or the second to last defender, whichever is closer to the goal line. (Position is determined as “any part of the head, body or feet.”) A player cannot be offside in their own end (half) of the field; or if the ball is received directly from a corner kick, goal kick or throw in.
A player in an offside position is only penalized if, at the moment the ball is played by one of his/her teammates, he/she is gaining an advantage by being in that position or is interfering with play or an opponent.
Offside position is determined at the instant the ball is played by a teammate; however, the official may wait to call the offense until the play develops.
For this offense an indirect free kick shall be awarded to the opposite team from the place at which the offense occurred.
This law defines what types of play shall be penalized.
It states that a direct free kick shall be given to the opposing team when:
- A player kicks, trips, jumps at, charges, strikes, holds, pushes, or spits at or attempts to do any of these to an opponent.
- A tackling player makes contact with the opposing player before the ball; or
- A player handles the ball deliberately with their hand or arm.
An indirect free kick shall be given to the opposing team when:
- A player plays in a manner considered dangerous by the referee, impedes the progress of an opponent, or prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball.
- A goalkeeper playing within his/her own penalty area: deliberately wastes time, takes more than six seconds without releasing the ball into play from the moment they control the ball with their hands, or touches the ball with their hands after it has been kicked or thrown to them by a teammate.
- a player commits any other offense for which play is stopped to caution or dismiss a player.
A player shall be cautioned and shown a yellow card if he/she is guilty of unsporting behavior, enters or leaves the field without the referee's permission, persistently violates the Laws of the Game, by word or action shows dissent from any decision made by the referee, delays the restart of play, or fails to respect the required distance on a restart.
A player shall be sent-off and shown a red card if they are guilty of violent conduct, serious foul play, using foul or abusive language, spitting at any person a tactical foul (denying a goal-scoring opportunity) or if the player receives a second yellow card, he/she shall be sent off.
This law defines the procedural difference between an "indirect" and a "direct" free-kick.
"Direct" means the ball can be kicked directly into the goal. To signal this, the referee will point to the spot of the foul, signal which direction the team receiving the kick is going and move into position to view the kick.
"Indirect" means the kick must be touched by a second player (from either team) before entering the goal. To signal this type of kick the referee will hold one arm straight up in the air until the ball has touched the second player or has gone out of play.
On both types of kicks the opposing team must be no closer than 10 yards from the ball.
Free kicks inside the penalty area have some specific nuances regarding ball placement and procedures.
A penalty kick is a direct kick awarded for a foul by the defense inside the penalty area. Penalty kicks are taken from a mark 12 yards out from the center of the goal. Only the kicker and the goalkeeper are allowed inside the penalty area (and penalty arc) until the moment the ball is kicked. The goalkeeper must have both feet on or above the goal line until the ball is kicked. The kicker must kick the ball forward and may not kick it again until it has touched the goalkeeper or another player. No second attempt to play the ball will be allowed if time has expired.
The distance from the goal line is reduced on a small size field.
Kicks from the mark are similar to a penalty kick and are used to determine a winner in tournament play.
A throw-in is a method of restarting play. A goal cannot be scored directly from a throw-in.
The throw-in is awarded to the opponents of the player who last touched the ball when the entire ball passes all the way across or over the touch (side) line.
A throw-in is to be taken from the spot at which the ball crossed over the touch line. The ball must be held with both hands and delivered from behind the head and directly over the head. At least part of each foot must be touching the touchline or the ground outside the touchline at the moment the ball is released. No opponent may be less than 2 yards from the point of the throw.
The player throwing the ball may not touch the ball again until another player has touched the ball.
A goal kick shall be taken when the entire ball passes over the defending team’s goal line last being touched by a player of the attacking team without a goal being scored.
The ball shall be placed anywhere inside of the goal-area and kicked by a player of the defending team.
The entire ball must pass beyond the penalty area line (in one kick), before it can be played by another player.
All players from the opposing team must remain outside of the penalty area until the ball passes outside of the penalty area.
A corner kick shall be given when the entire ball passes over the defending team’s goal line after last being touched by a player on the defending team.
The attacking team will place the ball anywhere inside of the corner arc closest to where the ball went out and kick it into play. The flagpost may not be moved.
The defending team can be no closer than 10 yards from the ball in the corner arc.
(Free Kick Distance)
|Minutes Per Half
|Players Allowed||Minimum #
|U6||4 - 6||Size 3
(23 - 24 inches)
|30 x 40
|22 - Two eleven-minute quarters (5)||5 (no goalie)||4||10|
|U8||6 - 8||50 x 80
|U10||8 - 10||Size 4
(25 - 26 inches)
|60 x 100
|U12||10 - 12||30 (5)||15|
|U14||12 - 14||Size 5
(27 - 28 inches)
|80 x 120
|35 (5)||15 Boys
|U16||14 - 16||18 Boys
|U19||16 - 19||7 Boys
There is no limit on the number of substitutions which may be made during a match nor the number of times an individual player may be substituted. The referee may choose not to allow substitution if it appears that the coach is using it as a time wasting device. (The referee may also add time to replace the time lost.)
At all ages, with the permission of the referee, players wanting to substitute must be waiting at the halfway line when play stops. Substitutions may be made prior to a throw-in in favor of your team, prior to a goal kick by either team, following a goal by either team, following an injury to a player from either team, or at half time. Substitutions may also be made for your team on the opposing team's throw-in if the opposing team also has a player at the half-way line. Players must wait for the referee to give permission for them to enter the field of play.
At U6 ONLY, the coach will be allowed on the field with the players. The assistant coach will stay on the sideline with players not currently on the field. OYSC rules will apply with the following exceptions. There will be NO goalie, NO corner kicks, NO goal kicks, and NO offsides called. A ball kicked out of play at the goal line will be played back into play with a kick-in at a designated spot that is 22.5' from the corner. This spot will be marked with an orange dot.
If play is stopped solely for an injury, the injured player(s) must be substituted. The opposing team may substitite one player for each injured player substitited.
A player who has received a yellow card may be replaced but is not required to leave the field of play.
It is Oshkosh Youth Soccer Club's philosophy that each player should play at least 50% of each half.
For a more precise definition of a particular Law, or for a more specific interpretation of a call, please submit your questions, in writing to:
Oshkosh Youth Soccer Club
P.O. Box 2621
Oshkosh, WI 54903-2621
The replies to your questions can not be used to change the outcome of any particular game.
Responses will be based on the written Laws only. Calls on the field of play during a particular game are based on the interpretation of the Referee of that game, at that time.
The sole intention of a written response is for your personal clarification.
Many other books and magazines on coaching, refereeing and playing are available at the local Library and some local bookstores.
This is a publication of
The Oshkosh Youth Soccer Club (OYSC)
PO Box 2621
Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54903-2621
Telephone: (920) 232-6972
For an unabridged copy, send $5.00 to the address above.