Lake Washington Youth Soccer Association
LAWS OF THE GAME
U-10 to U-12 Recreational Play
Lake Washington Youth Soccer Association
Reviewed for 2011 Season
About the LWYSA Supplement to the Laws of the Game
The “Laws of the Game” (LotG) of Soccer are established by the International Football Association, known as
FIFA. LWYSA’s games are played in accordance with those rules. FIFA permits those rules to be modified,
within certain restrictions, to accommodate the special needs of both younger and older soccer players. The US
Youth Soccer Association has therefore made changes to these rules, in accordance with its ability to do so.
Further, the Washington State Youth Soccer Association (WSYSA) has also made numerous changes in
accordance with its ability to do so. With all of these rule changes scattered between documentation that may
not be readily available to the recreational soccer coach, the LWYSA Referee Services team has prepared this
“Supplement to the Laws of the Game”. Its intent is to make it possible for a recreational coach to have in their
possession two documents with which they can be certain they are looking at the actual rules under which their
young players should be playing. These documents are:
1) The “Laws of the Game Made Easy”. This is an illustrated publication of the US Soccer Federation
which is intended to make it easier to understand the sometimes arcane language of the “Laws of the
Game” as published annually by FIFA. The booklet is available from http://www.ussoccer.org and is
strongly recommended for any coach of youth games.
2) “The LWYSA Supplement to the Laws of the Game for U10-U13 Recreation Play” (this document).
This document is prepared and maintained by the LWYSA Referee Services Team, with approval and
review from the LWYSA U10-U13 Program Director and Coach Development team. Its purpose is to
collect, in one place, the various local rules that will apply to U10-U13 play within LWYSA’s
administered leagues or, when specified, its tournaments. It also serves as a place to collect and
publish clarifications or interpretations that are the result of questions received by various LWYSA
Changes and Maintenance
The most current version of this document will always be available online at LWYSA’s web site. Coaches are
encouraged to make certain that they are always using the most current version of the document. If a coach
uses a printed copy, they should replace their copy at least annually. This is because, each year, FIFA and/or
WSYSA review the Laws of the Game and often make subtle changes to those rules. Many confusions at the
field result from coaches (or referees) that use or reference obsolete documentation. If you see something that
you believe is incorrect, please send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
These two documents are not intended to provide detailed and complete interpretation of every situation that
you may encounter in a soccer match. The nature of the Laws of the Game of soccer is that many of them are
somewhat subjective, and very dependent upon the referee’s interpretation of what they see on the field of play.
If you have need of a more in-depth explanation of some aspect of the Laws of the Game, please take advantage
of the many online resources available at LWYSA’s web site. Included there you will find the ability to send an
email to our referee support team, who can also provide you with more detailed answers to your questions about
the Laws of the Game.
LWYSA Referee Services
I - The Field of Play
LWYSA makes reasonable efforts to obtain fields complying with these rules. However, coaches and referees
should be flexible and simply play on the field assigned. Goals must not be moved (except by authorized field
maintenance personnel) unless the goal is designed as a “movable goal”. The old steel goals in place on the
Marymoor Meadows fields are NOT movable goals and movement by coaches or players may place them at
extreme risk of injury, including death.
The field of play must be rectangular. The length of the touch line must be greater than the length of the goal
Age Size (yards) Goal Area Penalty Area Goal Size
U-10 35x55 6x16 yards 14x24 yards 6x12 feet
U-11 50x80 FIFA (6x20 FIFA (18x44 FIFA (8x24
yards) yards) feet)
U-12+ W: 50-100 FIFA (6x20 FIFA (18x44 FIFA (8x24
L: 100-130 yards) yards) feet)
The center mark is indicated at the midpoint of the halfway line. A circle with a radius of 10 yards is marked
around it. LWYSA Modification: U10 center circle is 6 yard radius. A diagram of the proper field markings
is found at the end of this document. Be flexible. Not all marking may be present on all fields.
The Penalty Area
A penalty area is defined at each end of the field as follows:
Two lines are drawn at right angles to the goal line, 18 yards from the inside of each goalpost. These lines
extend into the field of play for a distance of 18 yards and are joined by a line drawn parallel with the goal line.
The area bounded by these lines and the goal line is the penalty area.
Within each penalty area a penalty mark is made 12 yards from the midpoint between the goalposts and
equidistant to them. An arc of a circle with a radius of 10 yards from each penalty mark is drawn outside the
LWYSA Modification: U10 penalty area is two lines drawn at right angles to the goal line, 10 yards from the
inside of each goalpost. These lines extend into the field of play for a distance of 14 yards and are joined by a
line drawn parallel with the goal line. The area bounded by these lines and the goal line is the penalty area.
There is no penalty mark for U10 and no arc for a circle.
Flag posts (when available)
A flag post, not less than 5 feet high, with a non-pointed top and a flag may be placed at each corner.
LWYSA Modification: When flags are not available, a marker, such as a cone may be placed in the corner. If
this is done, the marker should either be a disk style or collapsible type cone. This is necessary to minimize risk
of injury should a player fall on the cone.
LWYSA Modification: U10 distance between the posts is 12 feet and the distance from the lower edge of the
crossbar to the ground is 6 feet. Some variation may be seen in goal sizes. Teams should play using the goal
built or supplied on the field they are assigned.
Coach and Spectator Placement
Coaches: Coaches and other team officials must remain within the technical area throughout the match. The
technical area is along the touch line but no closer to the goal line than the top of the penalty area.
Spectators: To the degree possible at the facility, spectators must not be behind the goal line and may not be
any closer to the goal line than the top of the penalty area. A photographer may go into these locations while
taking a picture, but must remain silent while doing so and may not distract players in any way.
II - The Ball
LWYSA Modification: The ball size is modified depending on age group
Age Ball Size
III - The Number of Players
Age Players Minimum
U10 6 4
U11 9 7
U12 FIFA (11) FIFA (7)
WSYSA Modifications: Taken from the Washington State Youth Soccer Association Administrative Handbook,
(a) Substitutions may be made, with the consent of the referee, during any stoppage in play.
(b) The number of substitutes shall be unlimited unless a competition superseding the jurisdiction of this
Association determines otherwise; special competitions may be more restrictive.
(c) Players not on the field of play must remain two (2) yards behind the touch line and not within 18
yards from the corner of the field. For U10 play, players not on the field of play must remain two (2)
yards behind the touch line and not within 14 yards of the corner of the field.
IV - The Players' Equipment
A player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous to himself or another player (including
any kind of jewelry).
Taping of ears instead of removing the earrings is a violation of the rules handed down by the WSYSA, USYSA
and ultimately by FIFA. If the earrings cannot be removed, the player cannot play. LWYSA referees are
instructed that this rule must be strictly enforced.
Medical Alert and Religious Jewelry
FIFA makes an exception to the “no jewelry” rule to permit the wearing of medical alert type jewelry and
jewelry which, because of religious belief are essential to that belief and therefore cannot be removed.
However, these items must not pose a risk to other players and should be taped and padded as required so that
they cannot swing around, must not be loose enough that player’s hands or fingers become entangled in them,
and that they cannot injure another player if they contact that player.
For purposes of clarity, earrings may not be worn under any circumstances, as the taping of earrings is not
adequate for them to be made safe. If the earrings cannot be removed, the player cannot play.
Casts, Orthopedic, and Prosthetic Devices
A player may participate while wearing any orthopedic or prosthetic device, provided the referee has
determined that the device does not pose a risk to the wearer or other players on the field.
Under WSYSA rules, local associations may modify rules on safety if they choose, provided that rules
regarding safety are "more restrictive" than the WSYSA rule. LWYSA Leagues and Tournament events have
the following rules:
LWYSA Recreational (U12 and younger): Players may NOT participate while wearing a cast.
LWYSA Spring Training Program (All ages): Players may NOT participate while wearing a cast.
LWYSA Tournaments (Labor Day Jamboree, Year End Tournament): Players may NOT participate
while wearing a cast.
The final authority for other leagues or events are the rules published by those organizations. In most
cases, these rules are silent and will default to FIFA Laws of the Game. FIFA delegates to the
assigned referee the SOLE AUTHORITY to determine whether or not a device is “safe” and the player
is permitted to play while wearing it (see below section titled “Referee Discretion on Equipment”.)
Note: District II, prior to 2011, has not permitted players with casts to participate. As of this review
for 2011, we are not aware of this rule being changed.
The wearing of non-prescription sunglasses is not permitted.
Players are not permitted to wear hats or caps to keep the sun out of their eyes. A notable exception is the
goalkeeper. However, the bill of the cap must be soft (i.e., Not a baseball cap).
Referee Discretion on Equipment
The referee at the match is the final decision-maker as to what may constitute "unsafe" equipment. A
tournament or association official does not have the authority to overrule the referee.
In addition, a referee may permit a player to start playing but during the match determine that a device has
become unsafe or that the player is using the device in an unsafe manner that was not anticipated at the start of
the match. If this happens, the referee may ask the player to leave the field and either correct the problem with
the equipment or, if the problem cannot be corrected, they may not allow the player to return to play.
For purposes of clarity, administrative personnel, such as Association Staff, Board of Trustee members, Club
Presidents, and Tournament Directors do NOT have the authority to modify this rule and give “special
permission” for a person to play. While they are free to offer their opinion that something may or may not be
safe, the final decision rests with the referee at the field, who is obligated to apply the Laws of the Game and
published Rules of Competition.
V - The Referee
WSYSA Modification: Taken from the Washington State Youth Soccer Association Administrative Handbook,
Section 302.6: The home team will be responsible for providing referees. In the event that a referee is not
present, both coaches will mutually agree upon one. If one cannot be agreed upon, each coach will referee one-
LWYSA Modification: The association will attempt to assign referees to all U10 to U13 matches. In the event
that a referee is not present, both coaches will mutually agree upon one. If one cannot be agreed upon, each
coach will referee one-half.
VI - The Assistant Referees
WSYSA Modification: Taken from the Washington State Youth Soccer Association Administrative Handbook,
Section 302.6: Assistant referees will be used whenever possible to assist the referee. Young players or willing
adults may also be used. Volunteer linesmen may be used at the discretion of the referee only for the purpose of
calling the ball in or out of play. Volunteer linesman may not make any indication for offside, offside position,
or fouls that they feel they have seen, regardless of their skill, background, or other qualifications.
VII – The Duration of the Match
Periods of Play (Spring Training Program)
LWYSA Modification: All matches are played with two twenty-five (25) minute halves. Because of
restrictions on the terms of our use of the fields during the STP Program, matches MUST end by a particular
time. This means that a match that starts late will have shorter periods. To the degree reasonable, if a referee
knows that a match will be starting late, they should shorten BOTH halves, such that the game is played with
two equal, but shorter, periods. Matches scheduled to begin at 4:45 MUST end by 5:45. Matches scheduled to
begin at 6:00 MUST end just before 7:00pm so that the field is CLEARED OF PLAYERS no later than 7:00pm.
Periods of Play (LWYSA Fall Season)
WSYSA/LWYSA Modification: The duration of the match depends on the age group:
Age Half Duration Ball Size
U10 25 Minutes 4
U11 30 Minutes 4
U12 30 Minutes 4
WSYSA/LWYSA Modification: There shall be a five (5) minute break between halves.
LWYSA Modification: No Penalty Kicks at U10. Please see Law XIV starting on page 9 for the LWYSA
Modification for U10 Penalty Kicks. The penalty mark for a U11 penalty kick is 10 yards from the goal line
(instead of 12 yards, for all U12 and older matches.)
VIII – The Start and Restart of Play
The following is taken from the WSYSA Administrative handbook rule 301.9.
Restarting Play After An Injury
In the case of a temporary suspension due to an injury or any unusual situation, if one team is clearly in
possession of the ball, the game shall be restarted by an indirect free kick by the team in possession of the ball
at the point where the ball was when play was suspended. Should there not be clear possession at the time play
is suspended due to an injury or any unusual situation, there will be a dropped ball at the spot where the ball
was declared dead.
LWYSA Clarification: If a goalkeeper is clearly in control of the ball inside their own penalty area, the game
may be restarted by a dropped ball to the goalkeeper who was in possession when play was suspended. In this
case, the goalkeeper shall be allowed to handle the ball without opposition.
IX - The Ball In and Out of Play
There are no LWYSA specific modifications to Law IX – The Ball In and Out of Play.
X - The Method of Scoring
There are no LWYSA specific modifications to Law X – The Method of Scoring.
The outcome of a match during the Spring Training Session is considered final. Protests will not be considered.
XI – Offside
There are no LWYSA specific modifications to Law XI – Offside.
XII – Fouls and Misconduct
LWYSA Modification: No Penalty Kicks at U10. Please see Law XIV starting on page 9 for the LWYSA
Modification for replacing U10 Penalty Kicks with direct free kicks.
The term “tackling” means to attempt to win the ball from an opponent using the feet. “Slide tackling”,
therefore, means an attempt to win the ball from an opponent using the feet while sliding on the ground. This is
not permitted in LWYSA U10 and younger matches. At minimum, this is considered a form of dangerous play
and an indirect kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player slide tackles. If the slide tackle results in a foul
that would normally result in a direct free kick, then a direct free kick will be awarded.
Charging the Goalkeeper
The following is taken from the WSYSA rule 301.7.
The following rule applies to all competitions under the jurisdiction of the WSYSA:
U11 age groups and below: No player shall make physical contact with the goalkeeper, harass the
goalkeeper or attempt to play the ball once the goalkeeper has control of the ball in any manner and to
any degree whatsoever.
In all U12 age groups and above: No player shall make physical contact with the goalkeeper WITHIN
THE GOAL AREA, harass the goalkeeper, or attempt to play the ball once the goalkeeper has control
of the ball in any manner and to any degree whatsoever. For infringement of this special Rule, an
indirect kick shall be awarded.
Note: Also included in “having control of the ball” is, if the goalkeeper holds the ball on the ground
with one or both hands.
LWYSA Point of Emphasis: In 2005, FIFA added the following text to the Laws of the Game for Law 12.
“The referee has the authority to take disciplinary sanctions, as from the moment he enters the field of
play until he leaves the field of play after the final whistle.”
XIII – Free Kicks
There are no LWYSA specific modifications to Law XIII – Free Kicks.
XIV - The Penalty Kick
For all ages of competition, commencing with U11, penalty kicks shall be awarded in accord with the Laws of
LWYSA U10 Modification
In U10 play, no penalty kick shall be awarded. Instead a direct free kick shall be awarded to the attacking team
taken from the penalty area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the infringement occurred.
XV - The Throw-In
There are no LWYSA specific modifications to Law XV – Throw-In.
Clarification: The opponents of a person taking a throw-in must remain at least 2 yards from the thrower.
(added by FIFA in 2005)
XVI - The Goal Kick
There are no LWYSA specific modifications to Law XVI – Goal-Kick.
XVII – The Corner Kick
There are no LWYSA specific modifications to Law XVII – Corner Kick.
XVIII – Coach and Spectator Responsibilities
The Coach, Assistant Coach, and Team Manager of a team (the “Team Officials”) are responsible for the
behavior of their sidelines. Team Officials are required to communicate behavior expectations to those who
may attend soccer matches and to enforce league and WSYSA standards of behavior during the play of the
LWYSA requires that any person acting in the capacity of a coach be properly registered with LWYSA. Any
person at the game who is “acting” in the capacity of a Coach or Assistant Coach is subject to be disciplined as
such, regardless of their official status with LWYSA. Further, any Coach who permits an unregistered
individual to act as a Team Official, may be subject to disciplinary action.
For the purpose of LWYSA Disciplinary Action, the following definitions apply:
Dissent means expressing displeasure with the decisions of the referee. Dissent is made by word or
gesture and is not permitted.
Insulting, offensive, or abusive language or gestures refers to use of profanity, vulgarity, blasphemy,
insults to the person or character of a participant, or references to the participant’s race or ethnicity or
physical attributes. Any use of such language or gestures, directed at any participant, including Team
Officials, Players, and Referees, is not permitted and should result in the immediate dismissal of the
Stepping on to the field of play to challenge a decision of a referee, yell at, or in any way make
insulting or intimidating remarks to the referee, or approaching the referee after the match and berating
or resorting to name calling of the referee (“you are a horrible referee”, “that was a terrible job”) are
considered “Aggressive Acts” by LWYSA and will result in significant disciplinary action. The fact a
person may have been invited onto the field by the referee to tend to an injured player does not negate
the fact that it is still an “Aggressive Act” to challenge, yell at, or in any way make insulting or
intimidating remarks to the referee while on the field of play.
Referee Assault and Referee Abuse shall have the meanings set forth in the WSYSA Administrative
Referees have the authority to ask the coach to remove any spectator or Team Official that may be behaving
irresponsibly If the coach is unable to convince the spectator to leave, the referee may dismiss the coach for
failure to control their sideline or may abandon the match. If a coach fails to leave the field after having been
dismissed by the referee, the referee may abandon the match.
Referees are encouraged to seek cooperation from Team Officials to maintain correct sideline behavior. In the
event that a referee feels, in their sole opinion, that Sideline dissent has reached an unacceptable level, the
referee is encouraged to communicate a reminder to Team Officials that they must maintain correct Sideline
Behavior. If the referee stops play to issue such a reminder to Team Officials, IN ANY FORM, then such
reminder constitutes an official “warning” of the coach and sidelines. The referee is not required to show a
“card” to a coach, nor make any specific signal. The fact that they stopped play and communicated a reminder
to the sidelines is sufficient evidence of a “warning” having been issued to the sidelines. In the event that it
becomes necessary to “warn” the sidelines a second time, the referee may dismiss the appropriate team official,
or the match may be abandoned by the referee.
In the event that a referee is the recipient of “insulting, offensive, or abusive language or gestures”, or in the
event that the referee feels that a member of a sideline has behaved towards them in an “aggressive manner”,
the referee is empowered to IMMEDIATELY AND WITHOUT ANY ADDITIONAL WARNING do one of
1. Dismiss the offending Team Official, if the person committing the offense is a team official;
2. Ask the Coach to remove the offending party, if the person committing the offense is not a Team Official.
If the spectator will not leave the premises, the referee may either – dismiss the coach for failure to control
their sidelines OR abandon the match; or
3. Abandon the match and leave the field of play. If only one team is responsible for this action, the referee
should communicate with a Team Official of the other team that the match is abandoned. Coaches are
reminded that, as of the moment the match is abandoned, the match is no longer a league sanctioned event.
There may be no insurance or protection of the players should they continue to play, and they are required
to vacate the field to permit a subsequent event (such as a following match) to commence.
If a Team Official is “warned” or “Dismissed” from the field of play, or if the referee is the subject of
intimidating remarks during a match, the referee will file a Supplemental Report with the appropriate authority.
The authority, using guidelines they establish, will review the matter and determine if further disciplinary action
If a match is abandoned, or if a member of the sidelines is dismissed from the field of play, a disciplinary
hearing will be convened by LWYSA to review the events and determine what, if any, disciplinary sanctions
should be imposed upon the parties or team. Such sanctions may include, but are not limited to, suspension of
parties involved, forfeiture of the match, or removal of Team Officials from their role as team officials.
Summary of Fouls and Misconduct
Fouls and Misconduct
Direct Free Kick Indirect Free Kick
The following if done in a manner the referee If a goalkeeper, within their own penalty area, does
considers as “careless, reckless, or using excessive any of the following:
force”: Takes more than six (6) seconds: to put the
Kicks or attempts to kick an opponent ball into play after controlling with their
Trips or attempts to trip an opponent hands
Jumps at an opponent Touches ball again: after releasing the ball
Charges (runs into) an opponent from hands but before another player touches
Strikes or attempts to strike an opponent Touches ball with hands: after the ball was
Pushes an opponent deliberately passed to them with a foot of a
Tackles an opponent teammate
Touches ball with hands: after it was thrown
directly to them by a teammate
In addition, the following may also result in a Direct In addition, the following, committed by any player,
Free Kick: may result in an indirect free kick:
Holds an opponent Plays in a dangerous manner
Spits at an opponent Prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the
Handles the ball deliberately (except for the ball from their hands
goalkeeper within their own penalty area) Impedes the progress of an opponent
Cautions and Send offs (Yellow and Red Cards)
The following are reasons a referee may choose to show a yellow card (caution) or red card (send off) to a
player. While cards are not common in U10-U13 matches, they do happen. A referee is NOT required to warn
a person before showing a card.
Caution Send off
Is guilty of unsporting behavior (used for many things, Violent Conduct (such as fighting)
including reckless charges or tackles, excessive
Fails to Respect the required distance on a free kick or Spitting at another person (even if it doesn’t hit them)
corner kick (note: the team does NOT have to ask for
10 yards. It must be given)
Delays the restart of play (such as kicking the ball Denies a goal or obvious goal scoring opportunity by
away) deliberately handling the ball (except, of course, for
Show dissent by word or action (argues with the ref) Denies an obvious goal scoring opportunity to an
opponent moving towards the goal by committing a
Persistently infringes the Laws of the Game (same Receives a second caution in the same match.
player fouls multiple times or it appears a team is
deliberately fouling the same player repeatedly)
Enters or re-enters the field without the referee’s Is guilty of Serious Foul Play (commits a foul that, in
permission the opinion of the referee -- because of its force, the
angle of attack, use of the exposed cleats, etc. –
shows disregard for the safety of the opponent and
significant risk of injury exists)
Deliberately leaves the field without the referee’s Uses offensive, insulting, or abusive language or
permission gestures. A player may be sent off, even if the
language is not directed at opponent or official.
During the season, teams should play on the field they are assigned to, regardless of dimensions. The diagrams
below can be used to help set up a field for practices or to aid the placement of markers if field markings are not
visible. For any soccer match, the length and width of the field may vary, but the dimensions of the internal
areas should always be as shown. If a built or movable goal is supplied, that goal should be used, regardless of
U11 (per WSYSA admin handbook – 2009)
U12 / U13 – Identical to U11, except it is longer and wider (100-120 yds long and 50-100 yds wide)