Game Guidelines

Division Ball Size # of Players on Field Game Length Substitutions What's New?
U5/U6 3 4v4 6 min. quarters Quarter Breaks Only When out-of-bounds: Pass-In instead of throw-in
U7/U8 3 6v6 incl. goalie 10 min. quarters Quarter Breaks Only Follow Build-out Line rules. No punting. No heading.
U9/U10 4 7v7 incl goalie 25 min. halves 1) Any Goal Kick 2) Any Kickoff 3) Your OWN Throw-in 4) Your OWN Corner Kick **If a team subs- opposing team may also make substitutions Build-out Line rules. No punting. No heading. Offside is called.
U12 4 9v9 incl goalie 30 min. halves 1) Any Goal Kick 2) Any Kickoff 3) Your OWN Throw-in 4) Your OWN Corner Kick **If a team subs- opposing team may also make substitutions Punting allowed.  No heading. Offside is called.
U14 5 9v9 incl goalie 35 min halves 1) Any Goal Kick 2) Any Kickoff 3) Your OWN Throw-in 4) Your OWN Corner Kick **If a team subs- opposing team may also make substitutions Punting allowed.  Heading allowed. Offside is called.
U19 5 11v11 incl goalie 35 min halves 1) Any Goal Kick 2) Any Kickoff 3) Your OWN Throw-in 4) Your OWN Corner Kick **If a team subs- opposing team may also make substitutions Offside is called
Game Guidelines (A-Z)

Soccer is sport.  Sport includes winning and losing.  Blowouts are part of winning and losing.  That said, the league wants the players to have a positive soccer experience so they’re coming back for more soccer.  Here are some ways to try to manage blowout games so that the game remains a positive experience for all players including the winning team.

Build Out Lines

A build out line is a physical line painted across the field from sideline to sideline.  The line is placed equidistant between the penalty area line and the halfway or center line.  The build out line applies only to U7, U8, U9 and U10 games.

The purpose of the build out line is to promote player development- allowing a team to play the ball out of the back in a pressure-free (or less pressured zone) at the start of goal kicks and when goal keepers have possession of the ball.

Once a goal kick has been called by the referee or once the goal keeper takes possession of the ball, the defending team (the team without the ball) should immediately run behind the build out line.

No player of the defending team may cross the build out line until the ball has been put back into play and the ball has left the penalty box area.  When the goal keeper is in possession of the ball, the goal keeper may put the ball in play at anytime and they do not have to wait until defenders are all behind the build out line first.

Finally, at U9 and U10, the build out line, and not the halfway or center line, is used to denote offside violations.  In other words, an attacker cannot be penalized for offside in the zone between the halfway line and the build out line, only in the zone between the build out line and the end line (goal line.)  There is no offside called in U7/U8.

Concussion Policy

All coaches must follow this policy if during either practice or a game a player concussion is suspected: i) the player is done for the day; ii) the player must have a signed release form in order to return to game or practice; iii) an injury report shall be filled out and sent to the Safety Director and to AYSO National; In short: “if in doubt, sit them out.”  No parent, coach, or referee can overrule the sitting out policy if a concussion is suspected.  For any questions about either the heading rule or the concussion policy above, please contact me.

Everyone Plays: Divisions U5, U6, U7 and U8

Each player plays at least 50% of each game.  These divisions play quarters (U5/U6: 4 x 6 minutes, U7/U8: 4 x 10 minutes).  NO player may sit out a second quarter until every player on the team has sat out one quarter. No player should play a third quarter until all players have played two quarters.  The ONLY exceptions to this rule are if a player misses some of the game or player injury or player is emotionally distraught.

Quarter breaks are only to be long enough to allow substitutions and not for snacks or team meetings. Quarter breaks should take about 1 minute.  Half-time should last no longer than 5 minutes.

Everyone Plays:  Divisions U9, U10, U12, U14, and U19

These divisions play halves and have free substitution in certain dead-ball situations.  A team may substitute on their OWN throw-in, their OWN corner-kick, or anyone’s goal kick or kick off.  A team may not substitute when their opponent does, only when the above conditions apply.  Players should play different positions in different games, and coaches should strive for each player to generally play 50% of  the game and equal amount of time on the field as all players.  Let the kids play!

When you wish to substitute at an acceptable dead-ball instance as described above – yell “SUB” before the ball is put back into play. The referee must acknowledge your intention. The linesperson should hold up their flag and count the number of players entering the field. When an equal number have left the field, the flag will be dropped and play will continue. The clock keeps running during substitutions, so please be quick about it.

You should have two (2) goalie shirts. When you wish to substitute keepers, ensure that the new keeper has his/her shirt on so that play will not be unduly delayed. Soccer has running time, so if you have just one goalie shirt, change as quickly as possible.

Field Markings

Lines on a soccer field are considered part of the area they delineate.  As such, a ball must completely cross the line before being considered out of play.  If a field is poorly or incorrectly marked, but is safe, please go ahead and play.  Report conditions of the field that need correction to

Heading the Ball Banned

Please review and follow the concussion awareness policy so that you can be informed in case a player concussion is suspected. As a result of raised concussion awareness and certain litigation no heading of the ball is permitted for ages 10 and below in games or practices in US Soccer.

For this reason, in Core AYSO 300 games in the U12 division and younger divisions any intentional header will be called by the referee as a penalty resulting in an indirect kick for the opposing team. Read the complete description of the AYSO rule for “Heading the Ball” in games and practices. This new rule will take time for coaches, parents, referees, and most particularly players to get used to.  The league asks that we all exhibit patience and understanding as everyone adjusts to this new rule.

Let the Kids Play!

Coach during the week and let the players play on Saturdays. Enjoy the game. Enjoy watching your son and daughter and their new friends play.  There should be no unnecessary adult distractions or disruptions to the game.

Save any questions or concerns (beyond safety issues of course) for half-time or at the end of game to discuss with the referee or an opposing coach or another parent. Above all else, please be respectful and mindful that kids are watching, listening, and modeling after us.  No distractions, no disruptions, let the players PLAY!

Pass-Ins, Throw-ins

U5/U6: Beginning in Fall 2017, AYSO 300 U5 and U6 games will pass-in or kick the ball back into play rather than a throw-in. Opposing players must be at least two yards from the ball until it is kicked.

U7/U8: Throw-in violations are corrected and a “re-take” is allowed by the same team.

U9 +: Throw-in infractions result in turnovers, re-taken by the opposing team.

Positions – Players

For U7-U19 teams: we want to teach the game.  We also want to put our players in a position tactically to compete and win.  But let’s not confuse them.  Try to stick with a single system of play or “formation” for the season especially for younger divisions.  Changing the system of play repeatedly may confuse your players and is discouraged.

Let your players play multiple positions this season.  Teaching our players the responsibilities of each position is important. But emphasizing to our players that when our team has the ball we are all helping on the attack, and when our team does not have ball possession we are all part of the defense is an important element to raising our players’ soccer IQ.

Positions – Adults

On game day, no coaches and no parents should be standing behind or next to the goals.  Coaches should only be coaching from a single sideline.  To do otherwise is in the judgment of our league over-coaching, it’s not necessary, and it’s not permitted by our league.

Multiple coaches in multiple locations on the field can be confusing and disruptive to both your own players and the opposing players.  Please let the kids play.  Let the kids learn by doing, by being out of position, and yes, even by getting scored on.

If you as a head coach have a coach or parent coaching near the goals or from the opposite sideline as you, please take time only at quarter-, or halftime-breaks, or at the end of the game to respectfully tell them it’s against league rules and to please stop. Please do not approach another parent during game play unless it is a safety issue.


Punting by the goal keeper is no longer permitted until the U12 division. In U7/U8/U9/U10 goal keepers should be instructed by coaches not to punt the ball. This is a rule and the referee is instructed to call this as a penalty, resulting in an indirect kick for the opposing team.

The no punting rule is intended to encourage teams to use their foot and passing skills to play the ball up from the back of the field, to not simply give possession of the ball to the opposing team, and finally to discourage heading the ball at the U7-U10 ages.  Starting in U12, goal keepers may punt the ball, though heading is still not allowed.

Questions for Referees

The referees are instructed to come to each team at half and at the end of the game. During this time, they will answer any questions. Please save any questions for these times, and refrain from interrupting the game.

Support your officials, and help control the game and the spectators. Remember, we are all in this together. This is to be a good time for all involved. Be a good sport, and lead by example. It may be the most important thing you do!

Rain Days

Soccer is played in the rain.  The games will be canceled if league officials believe that the fields are unsafe, or will be damaged by play.  Or if a park district closes a field.  Please check the region website’s home page and facebook page for any cancellation information or field relocations due to weather and field conditions.

Any cancellation of games on one field DOES NOT MEAN THAT ALL GAMES ARE CANCELED.  Each field is considered separately. Check your field when in doubt.  In cases where rain or inclement weather conditions exist but games are not canceled by the league and fields are not closed by the park district, referees and coaches will need to judge together at the field whether weather and field conditions are safe enough to play.

Typically games are only canceled due to lightening/thunder, or if rainfall is such that either visibility is so bad or that standing water has accumulated on the field.  For more information, please review the league’s sever weather policy.

Slide-Tackling and Offside

No slide-tackling in divisions U5, U6, U7, U8, U9, & U10.

Offside will be called in divisions U9, U10, U12, U14 and U19.  Here is a good refresher on the offside rule.

Uniform and Player Safety

Players should be in uniform with shin guards completely covered by socks.  Players may not wear anything the referee deems dangerous or that might hurt them or other players.  No player may wear jewelry (including piercings regardless of how covered); no casts or splints; no shoes with center toe cleat.  Knee braces may be worn if padded and judged safe.  Hoods should be tucked into the back of the jersey.

Yellow and Red Cards

Yellow and Red cards are not shown in U10 and below, (only used with older players).  A player receiving a Yellow (caution) card should be substituted and counseled by a coach on the sideline.  Players receiving a Red (send off) card must leave the game and can not be replaced.  The team will play a player short for the remainder of the game.

A player “sent off” for serious offense or serious dissent will be expected to sit out the following game as well.  Please assist the officials if this situation occurs.  If a spectator is asked to leave, they must leave the area before the game will proceed. The referee may end the game, if the expelled adult does not leave.