Soccer Rules

Updated 8/28/2010

The following guidelines are what coaches, players and parents will be expected to follow with Brookside Soccer for this upcoming season.  The goal behind these guidelines is simply to promote fair, safe and fun soccer.  It is essential that all of the coaches assist the league in maintaining these items so everyone can have a great year.

In general Brookside Soccer follows the FIFA Laws of the Game.  The following list underscores the important aspects of many of these rules and also identifies the modifications that the league has adopted.  The youth version of FIFA Laws of the Game can be found here:


The ball must be properly inflated and without scars or defects. An overinflated ball and an underinflated ball are a safety hazard.  A properly inflated ball is determined by pressed down with your thumbs and if properly inflated, the ball should deflect down about a ¼”. The size of the ball differs with each division.

The correct ball sizes are as follows:

  • Pre-K, K, 1st & 2nd grade divisions (U5-U8) play with a size three (3) ball
  • 3rd grade thru 6th grade divisions (U9-U12) play with a size four (4) ball
  • 7th grade thru High School divisions (U14-U19) play with a size five (5) ball


Maximum number of players on the field at any time:

  • Pre-K (U5) & K (U6) divisions play 3v3 with no goal keeper
  • 1st  grade (U7) & 2nd grade (U8) divisions play 5v5 with no goal keeper
  • 3rd grade (U9) & 4th grade (U10) divisions play 8v8 with one player designated as a goal keeper
  • 5th grade & 6th grade (U12) divisions play 9v9 with one player designated as a goal
  • 7th , 8th  & 9th grade divisions (U14/15) and High School divisions (U19) play 11v11 with one player designated as a goal keeper

Substitutions: unlimited substitutions are allowed in all divisions, however when substitutions may occur differs per divisions:

For Pre-K through second grade divisions (U-5 – U-8), substitutions can be made at any stoppage of play.

For third grade through high school divisions (U9-U19) substitutions can only be made at specified restarts. They are as follows:

  • On restarts from the center spot (after a goal, or at the start of the second half). Both teams are allowed to substitute.
  • On goal kicks.  Both teams are allowed to substitute.
  • On throw-ins, however only the team with possession of the ball (who is throwing it in) is allowed to substitute.
  • In the event of an injury provided the referee has stopped play and allows the substitution.
  • Substitutions are not allowed on corner kicks or on restarts after a foul.

The players who are entering the field during a substitution must be station at the center line of the field.  A coach should alert the sideline referee or the center referee of their intent substitute.  It is the discretion of the center referee whether to allow a substitution. For instance, a ref may not allow a substitution if the time is less than 2 minutes before a half or game. Be sure to clarify the referee’s substitution protocol prior to each game

Playing time: Minimum of 50% of the total playing time for all players, and ideally all players play an equal amount of time during the game.

Minimum number of players: Coaches should always attempt to play scheduled games, even if they are short a few players. In the event that a team cannot field 60% of the number of field players (7 for an 11v11 game) the team is allowed to play as many players they have available.  The opposing coach is still allowed to play their full complement of players, however it is recommended that the opposing coach considers sharing or shifting players for the duration of the game so that the game is enjoyable and competitive for all.  A game should only be cancelled or postponed if a team is unable to field any players.  In all cases coaches should inform the other coach and the divisional coordinator if their team will be short as it is known their team will be short.


  • Footwear: Tennis shoes or soft-cleated soccer shoes.  Cleats with a front toe cleat (football style) are not allowed.  The player or coach may cut the front cleat off to make the cleats allowable.
  • Shinguards: MANDATORY for both practices and games.
  • Uniforms: Each player must have identical uniforms.  The uniform includes jersey, shorts and socks.  Shirts should be tucked in.  Socks should cover the shin guards entirely.  Soft headbands are admissible provided that they are soft and easily removable.
  • Glasses: Glasses should be worn with a safety strap, however this is not mandatory.
  • Hats & Gloves: Except for very cold weather, hat and gloves are not allowed to be worn during the game by field players. The goal keepers are allowed to wear goalie gloves. Additionally, if the weather is very cold, then players are allowed to wear sweat shirts or jackets.  These jackets need to be worn under the player’s uniform, and should not have any exposed metal or plastic parts to the jacket.
  • Jewelry and Watches: No jewelry of any kind or watches will be allowed to be worn during the game.
  • Hair ties: Only soft hair ties are allowed.  Hair ties with hard beads or plastic are not allowed.
  • Leg/Arm Braces: Only soft braces are allowed.  Braces with exposed metal or plastic will not be allowed.
  • Casts: Any player with a plaster cast is not allowed to play, regardless if they are cleared by a doctor to do so.
  • Coaches: Coaches can wear anything they want to, however they are responsible for assuring that their players are fully equipped and have complete uniforms.


Pre-K through second grade divisions (U-5 – U-8) do not have assigned referees, however coaches are asked to ref the game.  For these divisions, one coach from each team is allowed to be on the field at a time.  Along with helping to keep the game fair, fun and safe, coaches are also allowed to communicate with their players during the game.  Although it is important to remember that the coaches on the field are to facilitate the game and should allow the game to flow as much as possible.  It is also important that the coaches on the field should enforce fouls and other rule violations.

Remembering that we want the games to be fun and instructional, it is recommended that coaches try to make sure that proper throw-ins are occuring, and that players are not pushing or fouling, and that obvious hand balls are enforced.  Game flow is important, but making sure that players understand the rules is also important.

For 3rd grade through high school divisions (U-9 – U-19), a team of referees will be assigned to each game.

The assigned referees will be either a registered referee or a trained youth referee.
Referees are trained to emphasize fun, fairness, safety and learning.

Referee decisions are final and must not be questioned by coaches or parents.  If a coach has a question regarding a referee’s call they may inquire respectfully at halftime or after the game.  If coaches, players or parents verbally abuse the referees that individual will be asked to leave.  The game will not commence until that individual has left the field.

Assistant referees will be stationed on each side line.  Assistant referees are usually responsible for determining if the ball leaves the field of play and calling offsides.  If there are not enough referees available to have assistant referees then a parent will be asked to be a sideline judge.


The length of games differs by age division as follows:

  • Pre-K (U5) & K (U6) divisions play 10 minute halves, or a 20 minute game.
  • 1st  grade (U7) & 2nd grade (U8) divisions play 20 minute halves, or a 40 minute game.
  • 3rd grade (U9) & 4th grade (U10) divisions play 25 minute halves, or a 50 minute game.
  • 5th grade & 6th grade (U12) divisions play 30 minute halves, or a 60 minute game.
  • 7th, 8th & 9th grade divisions (U14/15) play 35 minute halves or a 70 minute game.
  • High School divisions (U19) play 40 minute halves or an 80 minute game.

Halftime break for all divisions should be five to ten minutes


Offside infractions will be enforced in 3rd grade divisions (U9) and older.  A player is judged to be offside when they are in the “offside position”, and they are judged by the referee to be “engaged” in the play.  The determination of an offside infraction is determined at the moment the ball is struck by a teammate.

For a player to be considered in the “offside position”, they need to satisfy all the following criteria:

  • They are on the attacking half of the field
  • They are closer to the goal line than the second to last defender (usually the goalie is the last defender) without the ball
  • They are closer to the goal line than the ball

For a player to be considered “engaged” in the play, they are judged to be doing either of the following:

  • The player  is actively moving towards the ball and is within a playable distance
  • The player is in a position to influence the play such as obstruct the goalkeeper or impede a defender

A player cannot be judged to be offside if they are the first player to touch the ball from any of the following:

  • A goal kick
  • A corner kick
  • A throw-in
  • From a direct pass from the opposing team

This is the single most misunderstood rule at this level by players and parents alike.  Please make sure this rule is understood.


Common direct free kick violations include; kicking, tripping, jumping on, charging, hitting, pushing, holding, or spitting on, an opponent.

It is also a direct kick violation if a player tackles an opponent without making contact with the ball before making contact with the opponent.

Deliberately handling the ball with any part of the hand or arm (except for keepers in the penalty area) will also result in a direct kick violation.  A handball will not be called if the ball hits a player’s arm incidentally or if the player was instinctively protecting himself or herself.

Common indirect free kick violations include; dangerous play, impeding the progress of an opponent,  illegal pass-back to a goal keeper, goal keeper holding the ball for more than 6 seconds, or obstructing a goalkeeper.

Penalty kicks are awarded if a direct free kick violation occurs within the opposing team’s penalty area.  In the event of a penalty kick all players must leave the penalty area except for the goalkeeper and the player taking the penalty kick.  The referee will set the ball on the penalty mark.  The goalie is required to stay on his line until the ball is kicked; however they are allowed to move laterally along the line before the kick. After the ball is kicked, play is live. If the ball is not scored, trapped by the goalie, or kicked out of bounds the ball can be played by either team.

Only in extreme cases will a referee issue a caution or a send-off (yellow and red cards). Referees will work cooperatively with the coaches and eliminate the need for cautions and send-offs.  Cautionable offences include; poor sportsmanship, very hard play, repetitive foul violations, dissent by word or action.   Send-off offences include; serious foul play, spitting at anyone, violent conduct, blatant vulgarity, or having received two cautions.

Slide tackling is only allowed in the U-14 (7th & 8th grade) division and up.  Slide tackling is allowed provided it is done legally. An illegal slide tackle could result in a yellow card or if done with violent intent, a red card.


Goal keepers are only used in 3rd Grade (U-9) divisions and older.

Each team’s goalkeeper is required to wear a jersey that differentiates them from both their team and the opposing team.

After gaining possession of the ball, a goalie has 6 seconds to either throw or kick the ball.  The goalie is not required to dribble the ball; they can simply walk the ball to the top of the goalie box before distributing the ball.

A goalie is not allowed to play a ball with their hands if the ball is passed to them from their own teammate.  In this instance the goalie must play the ball with their feet or a delay of game foul will be called and the other team will be awarded an indirect kick from the spot of the foul. No change from regular play except that opponents must retreat eight (8) yards from the ball during opponents’ free kicks.

A proper throw-in requires a player taking the ball with two hands on either side of the ball; bring the ball behind the head and throwing the ball forward over the head in a direct motion.  A player must have both feet on the ground until the ball is released.  A player must also have both feet on or behind the touch line.
Throw-in violations are strictly enforced in U-9 and up divisions.  The assistant referee on the sideline typically determines possession.

When a ball crosses the end line the referee will award a goal kick or a corner kick.
In the event of goal kick, the opposing team must leave the penalty area. Either the keeper or a field player may take the kick.  The ball must be positioned anywhere within the goalie box. After the ball is struck, either team cannot play the ball until the ball has entirely left the penalty area.

In the event of a corner kick, the attacking team must place the ball anywhere within the corner arc.  The corner flag cannot be touched or moved.


  • Players and coaches should be a minimum of 2 yards away from the sideline.
  • Parents and spectators should be a minimum of 3 yards away from the sideline.
  • Parents and coaches should only encourage players and support the team in a positive manner.
  • Parents are discouraged from interacting with the referees and are not allowed to question a referee’s call.
  • Smoking and/or the consumption of alcoholic beverages are not allowed around the field of play.  Any individual who violates this rule will be asked to leave the area by the referee or a league coordinator.  Individuals are allowed to smoke in the parking lot.
  • If a parent/coach/player participates in inappropriate conduct, they will be asked to leave the field immediately and a mandatory one game suspension will be served.  It the conduct is extreme in nature, the Brookside Soccer Board will review the matter and determine if additional suspension time or action should be taken.