Starting the Game
Games start with a kick off in the center of the field, with the defending team outside the
center circle. A player kicks the ball to a fellow player. Opposing players must stay
outside the center circle until the ball is kicked. The kicker cannot touch the ball again
until another player has touched the ball. This is known as a kick-off. A coin toss
determines which team starts the game. The winner of the toss selects which side of the
field to defend. The loser kicks off in the first half and the winning team kicks off to start
the second half. Teams switch ends of the field after the half-time stoppage of play. After
a goal is scored, the opposite team is awarded the ball and the game continues with
another kick-off in the center of the field.
Simplified Soccer Rules
We encourage our members to become familiar with the rules of soccer. The following is
intended to be only a summary of the more important points. Many of these rules do not
apply in the U6/U8 Divisions, which have a special set of rules and procedures. The full
set of the Laws of the Game are available at
11 players per team unless playing small-sided games.
The only person on the field who may touch the ball with their hands is the goalie. The
rule for a hand ball includes any part of the body from the shoulders to the tips of the
fingers. A ball that is kicked and hits a player‟s hand or arm is not a hand ball.
Wears a different color jersey than the teammates. He or she is the only player who may
play the ball with the hands, but only inside his or her own penalty area. May not take
more than six seconds to release the ball after he or she has once gotten control of the
ball. If the ball is passed back directly to the goalie from a teammate, they may not touch
the ball with their hands. Infraction of this rule will result in an indirect free kick at the
site of the infraction.
Ball Out Of Play
All of the ball must go completely past the outside edge of the touch line or the goal line,
either on the ground or in the air to be out of play. Any ball striking a referee, goal post,
or corner post and remaining on the field is in play.
Scoring A Goal
The ball must go completely past all of the goal line into the goal to score
When the entire ball crosses over the outside of the touch line, play stops and a throw in
is awarded to the opposing team at the spot the ball went out. The player taking the
throw in must have both feet on the ground behind the touch line when the ball is thrown
and deliver the ball from behind the head with both hands. Dragging the toes of one foot
is considered legal.
Corner Kick/ Goal Kick
When the entire ball crosses over the goal line without scoring a goal and is last touched
by a defending player, play is restarted by an offensive player taking a kick from the
corner area nearest where the ball went over the end line. If the ball is kicked over the
goal line by an offensive player, a defending player takes a kick from anywhere inside the
defending goal area.
A player is in an OFFSIDE POSITION (but not necessarily guilty of an offside offense)
he or she is ahead of the ball, and
he or she is in the opponent's half of the field, and
there are fewer than two opponents ahead of him or her.
There is an offside offense only if, in the opinion of the referee, a player in an offside
position participates in the play, interferes with an opponent, or otherwise tries to take
advantage of his/her offside position. The foul is judged at the time the ball is kicked, not
when received. An indirect free kick is awarded to the other team when an offside offense
occurs at the site of the infraction.
Direct and indirect kicks are two primary ways that play is restarted after the referee
stops play for an infraction. For both of these, the ball must be stationary before it is
kicked and the opposing players should be a minimum of 10 yards away. The 10 yard
allowance is reduced for younger ages. The simple difference between the two is this:
On a direct kick you can score by kicking the ball directly into the goal. On an indirect
kick you cannot score. An indirect kick must be touched by another player before it can
go into the goal – that is the kicker and a second person. There are many soccer rules
around what causes a direct or indirect kick. Generally, a direct kick comes from a
contact foul or a hand ball, the rest are indirect kicks.
A penalty kick results from a contact foul or a handball by the defending team within the
penalty area – the large box on either end of the field. So it‟s a type of direct kick also.
The ball is placed on the penalty mark. All players must remain outside the penalty area
and the penalty arc until the ball is kicked. The goalkeeper must have both feet on the
goal line until the ball is kicked. If after the ball is kicked, it rebounds off of the keeper
and stays on the field, the ball is „live‟ and anyone can play it. If after the ball is kicked,
it rebounds off of the goal and stays on the field, the ball is „live‟ and anyone can play it
with the exception of the person who just kicked the ball. The kicker may touch the ball
only after it has been touched by someone else.
Two Touch Rule
A player cannot touch the ball twice in a row when putting the ball in play. You will see
this called many times in youth soccer. It applies everywhere. You will see it frequently
on kick-offs, corner kicks, direct and indirect kicks, and throw-ins.
Any penalty that might, in the opinion of the referee, give an advantage to the team
committing the foul shall not be called by the referee.
Misconduct – Yellow Card
May be issued by the referee for:
- Unsporting behavior, including particularly hard fouls, Dissent by word or
action, Persistent infringing of the Laws of the Game, Delaying the restart of
play, Failing to respect the required distance at a corner kick or free kick,
Entering or reentering the field without the referee‟s permission, Deliberately
leaving the field without the referee‟s permission
Misconduct – Red Card
May be issued by the referee for:
- Serious foul play, Violent conduct, Spitting at anyone, Denying an obvious
goal scoring opportunity by a deliberate handball or any penal foul, Using
offensive, insulting, abusive, or threatening language, Receiving a second
yellow card in the same game. An ejected player may not be replaced by a
substitute and must immediately leave the field.
Ending the Game
The game is officially over when the referee blows the whistle at the end of scheduled
time. Both teams should line up and shake hands congratulating each other with “good
game.” This continues to emphasize good sportsmanship. A winner and loser shall never
Regardless of the call by an AYSO official referee, under no circumstances shall that call
be questioned, argued, or contested in anyway. Since there is no score and the game is
non-competitive, the advantage of a call is really inconsequential. You may speak to a
referee in a professional manner only at half-time or the conclusion of the game regarding
calls made during the game. Any problems or concerns with officiating should be
brought to the attention of an AYSO Board Member, located at the concession stand.
AYSO Game Guidelines can be found at www.soccer.org and are adopted from the FIFA
Laws of Soccer.
Positions for soccer include goalie, defense, midfield, and forward. These are general
positions and can be referred to by other terms. In a typical 11 vs 11 game we suggest 3
forward, 3 midfield, 4 defense and a goalie. In 8 vs 8, 2 forwards, 2 midfield, 3 defense,
and a goalie, etc… Any player can travel anywhere on the field. Defense is able to score
goals and forwards are encouraged to come back and assist defense, especially in the
event of corner kicks or free kicks.