law 1: the field of play
- Games can be played on grass or artificial turf and must be green with no advertising on the field itself.
- The field is rectangular in shape.
- The longer side lines are called touch lines.
- The shorter side lines are called goal lines.
- The field of play is divided into two halves by a halfway line.
- The center spot marks the center of the field and is surrounded by a circle 10 yards across.
- All lines marking the field must be of the same width and no wider than 5 inches.
- Study the diagram below to understand where everything is on the field and what the measurements are.
- Not all soccer fields are the exact same size. The dimensions of a soccer field have to fall inside a range:
- Length: 100 yards to 130 yards
- Width: 50 yards to 100 yards
The goal area
- The goal area is a rectangle that is 6 yards deep and 20 yards wide.
- the short sides of the goal area start 6 yards from the inside of each goalpost
- they extend into the field 6 yards
- and are joined by a line drawn parallel with the goal line that is 20 yards wide (6 + 6 + 8 (width of the goal) = 20).
- The area bounded by these lines and the goal line is called the goal area.
The penalty area
- The penalty area is a rectangle that is 18 yards deep and 44 yards wide.
- the short sides of the penalty area start 18 yards from the inside of each goalpost
- they extend into the field 18 yards
- and are joined by a line drawn parallel with the goal line that is 44 yards wide (18 + 18 + 8 (width of the goal) = 44).
- The area bounded by these lines and the goal line is called the penalty area.
- Within each penalty area is a penalty mark 12 yards from goal line centered on the goal.
- Each penalty area has part of a circle at the top (also called an arc) to make sure that players are at least 10 yards away from the penalty spot for when a penalty shot is taken.
- Flags are placed at each of the corners of the field to mark them. They cannot be more than 5 feet tall.
The corner arc
- At each corner there is a quarter circle (arc) that is 1-yd from the corner flag. The ball has to be inside this arc during a corner kick.
- Goals are centered on the goal line (short side of the field).
- Goalposts must be square, rectangular, round or elliptical in shape and must not be dangerous to players.
- Goals are 8 yards (24 feet) wide and 8 feet high.
- The goal posts and crossbar have to be the same shape and width and cannot be bigger than 5 inches.
- The goal lines must be of the same width as the goalposts and the crossbar.
- The goalposts and crossbars must be white.
law 2: the ball
Qualities and measurements
The ball is:
- U12 uses size 4 soccer balls
- The balls need to be inflated to a pressure of 8.5-15.6 pounds per square inch at sea level (coach’s note: generally I inflate to 11 psi)
law 3: the number of players
- There can only be 11 players, one of whom is the goalkeeper, on the field.
- The minimum number of players necessary to start a game is seven players.
- Teams at U12 are allowed unlimited substitutions.
- To replace a player with a substitute, the following conditions must be observed:
- The referee must be informed before any proposed substitution is made
- The substitute only enters the field of play after the player being replaced has left and after receiving a signal from the referee
- Entering or leaving the field without the referee’s permission will result in a yellow card and an indirect free kick
- The substitute only enters the field of play at the halfway line and during a stoppage in the match
law 4: 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).
- Tape over earrings is not permitted even if the earrings are new and may not be removed. If the jewelry may not be removed the player may not play.
- The basic compulsory equipment of a player comprises the following separate items:
- a jersey or shirt with sleeves – if undergarments are worn, the color of the sleeve must be the same main color as the sleeve of the jersey or shirt (black or white is also allowable for this league)
- shorts – if undershorts or tights are worn, they must be of the same main color as the shorts
- shin guards
- are covered entirely by the socks
- are made of rubber, plastic or a similar suitable material
- provide a reasonable degree of protection
- The two teams must wear colors that distinguish them from each other and also the referee and the assistant referees
- Each goalkeeper must wear colors that distinguish him from the other players, the referee and the assistant referees
law 5: the referee
The authority of the referee
- Each match is controlled by a referee who has full authority to enforce the Laws of the Game in connection with the match to which he has been appointed.
- The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play, including whether or not a goal is scored and the result of the match, are final.
Powers and duties
- The referee enforces the Laws of the Game.
- Acts as timekeeper and keeps a record of the match
- stops the match if, in his opinion, a player is seriously injured.
- An injured player may only return to the field of play after the match has restarted
- allows play to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is, in his opinion, only slightly injured
- ensures that any player bleeding from a wound leaves the field of play.
- The player may only return on receiving a signal from the referee, who must be satisfied that the bleeding has stopped.
- If a foul is committed against the team with the ball, the referee allows play to continue so they can continue to their advantage. If the advantage doesn’t happen, the penalty is called and the ball is brought back to where it happened.
- takes disciplinary action against players guilty of cautionable (yellow card) and sending-off (red card) offenses.
- takes action against team officials who fail to conduct themselves in a responsible manner and may, at his discretion, expel them from the field of play and its immediate surrounds.
law 6: the assistant referees
Two assistant referees may be appointed whose duties, subject to the decision of the referee, are to indicate:
- when the whole of the ball leaves the field of play
- which team is entitled to a corner kick, goal kick or throw-in
- when a player may be penalized for being in an offside position
- when a substitution is requested
- when misconduct or any other incident occurs out of the view of the referee
- when offenses have been committed whenever the assistant referees have a better view than the referee (this includes, in certain circumstances, offenses committed in the penalty area)
- whether, at penalty kicks, the goalkeeper moves off the goal line before the ball is kicked and if the whole ball crosses the goal line
law 7: the duration of the match
Periods of play
- The match lasts two equal periods of
- U10: 25 minutes
- U11: 30 minutes
- U14: 35 minutes
- U16: 45 minutes
- Any agreement to alter the duration of the periods of play (e.g. to reduce each half to 25 minutes because of insufficient light) must be made before the start of play and must comply with competition rules.
- The half-time interval must not exceed 15 minutes.
- The half-time interval for U12 is typically 10 minutes.
- The duration of the half-time interval may be altered only with the consent of the referee.
Allowance for time lost
- The allowance for time lost is at the discretion of the referee.
law 8: the start and restart of play
- A coin is tossed and the team that wins the toss decides which goal it will attack in the first half of the match.
- The other team takes the kick-off to start the match.
- The team that wins the toss takes the kick-off to start the second half of the match.
- In the second half of the match, the teams change ends and attack the opposite goals.
- A kick-off is a way of starting or restarting play:
- at the start of the match
- after a goal has been scored
- at the start of the second half of the match
- at the start of each period of extra time, where applicable
- A goal may be scored directly from the kick-off.
- all players must be in their own half of the field of play
- the opponents of the team taking the kick-off have to be outside of the center circle until the ball is in play
- the ball must be stationary on the center mark
- the referee gives a signal
- the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward
the kicker must not touch the ball again until it has touched another player
- If the player taking the kick-off touches the ball again before it has touched another player, an indirect free kick is given to the other team where it happened.
- if so, the kick-off is retaken
- If, while the ball is still in play, the referee is required to stop play temporarily for any reason not mentioned elsewhere in the Laws of the Game, the match is restarted with a dropped ball.
- The referee drops the ball at the place where it was located when play was stopped.
- Play restarts when the ball touches the ground.
- if it is touched by a player before it makes contact with the ground
- if the ball leaves the field of play after it makes contact with the ground, without a player touching it
law 9: the ball in and out of play
Ball out of play
- The ball is out of play when:
- the whole ball has crossed the outside the goal line or touch line whether the ball is on the ground or in the air
Ball in play
- The ball is in play at all other times, including when:
- it rebounds off a goalpost, crossbar or corner flag post and remains in the field of play
- it rebounds off either the referee or an assistant referee when they are on the field of play
law 10: the method of scoring
- A goal is scored when the whole ball passes over the back edge of the goal line, between the goalposts and under the crossbar.
- The team scoring the greater number of goals during a match is the winner. If both teams score an equal number of goals, or if no goals are scored, the match is drawn (tied).
- When competition rules require there to be a winning team after a match or home-and-away tie, the only permitted procedures for determining the winning team are:
- away goals rule
- extra time
- kicks from the penalty mark
law 11: offside
- It is not an offense in itself to be in an offside position.
- A player is in an offside position if:
- she is nearer to her opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-to-last opponent (ball and the last defender not including the goalie in most cases)
- A player is not in an offside positionif:
- she is in her own half of the field of play or
- she is level with the second-last opponent or
- she is level with the last two opponents
- Offside is called only when, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of her team (typically a pass), and she is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active playby:
- interfering with play or
- interfering with an opponent or
- gaining an advantage by being in that position
No offside offense in effect
- There is no offside offense if a player receives the ball directly from:
- a goal kick
- a throw-in
- a corner kick
law 12: fouls & misconduct
Direct free kick (Ball can be played directly into the goal)
- A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following seven offenses in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:
- kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
- trips or attempts to trip an opponent
- jumps at an opponent
- charges an opponent
- strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
- pushes an opponent
- tackles an opponent
- A direct free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following three offenses:
- holds an opponent
- spits at an opponent
- handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area)
- A direct free kick is taken from the place where the offense occurred.
- A penalty kick is awarded if any of the above ten offenses is committed by a player inside his own penalty area, irrespective of the position of the ball, provided it is in play.
Indirect free kick (Ball must be played off another player before it can be counted as a goal)
- An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a goalkeeper, inside his own penalty area, commits any of the following four offenses:
- controls the ball with his hands for more than six seconds before releasing it from his possession
- touches the ball again with his hands after he has released it from his possession and before it has touched another player
- touches the ball with his hands after it has been deliberately kicked to him by a team-mate
- touches the ball with his hands after he has received it directly from a throw-in taken by a team-mate
- An indirect free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if, in the opinion of the referee, a player:
- plays in a dangerous manner
- impedes the progress of an opponent
- prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands
- commits any other offense, not previously mentioned in Law 12, for which play is stopped to caution or send off a player
- The indirect free kick is taken from the place where the offense occurred.
- The yellow card is used to communicate that a player, substitute or substituted player has been cautioned.
- The red card is used to communicate that a player, substitute or substituted player has been sent off.
- A player is cautioned and shown the yellow card if he commits any of the following seven offenses:
- unsporting behavior
- dissent by word or action
- persistent infringement of the Laws of the Game
- delaying the restart of play
- failure to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick, free kick or throw-in
- entering or re-entering the field of play without the referee’s permission
- deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission
- A player, substitute or substituted player is sent off if he commits any of the following seven offenses:
- serious foul play
- violent conduct
- spitting at an opponent or any other person
- denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area)
- denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick
- using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures
- receiving a second caution in the same match
- A player, substitute or substituted player who has been sent off must leave the vicinity of the field of play and the technical area.
law 13: free kicks
Types of free kick
- Free kicks are either direct or indirect.
The direct free kick
- A goal can be scored directly by the player taking the free kick if it is kicked directly into the opponents’ goal.
- If a direct free kick is kicked directly into the team’s own goal, a corner kick is awarded to the opposing team.
The indirect free kick
- The referee indicates an indirect free kick by raising his arm above his head. He maintains his arm in that position until the kick has been taken and the ball has touched another player or goes out of play.
- A goal can be scored only if the ball subsequently touches another player before it enters the goal.
- If an indirect free kick is kicked directly into the opponents’ goal, a goal kick is awarded.
- If an indirect free kick is kicked directly into the team’s own goal, a corner kick is awarded to the opposing team
- For both direct and indirect free kicks, the ball must be stationary when the kick is taken and the kicker must not touch the ball again until it has touched another player.
Position of free kick
Free kick inside the penalty area
- Direct or indirect free kick to the defending team:
all opponents must be at least 10 yards from the ball
- all opponents must remain outside the penalty area until the ball is in play
- the ball is in play when it is kicked directly out of the penalty area
- a free kick awarded in the goal area may be taken from any point inside that area
- Indirect free kick to the attacking team:
- all opponents must be at least 10 yards from the ball until it is in play, unless they are on their own goal line between the goalposts
- the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves
- an indirect free kick awarded inside the goal area must be taken on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the infringement occurred
Free kick outside the penalty area
- all opponents must be at least 10 yards from the ball until it is in play
- the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves
- the free kick is taken from the place where the infringement occurred or from the position of the ball when the infringement occurred (according to the infringement)
law 14: the penalty kick
- A penalty kick is awarded against a team that commits one of the ten offenses for which a direct free kick is awarded, inside its own penalty area and while the ball is in play.
- A goal may be scored directly from a penalty kick.
- Additional time is allowed for a penalty kick to be taken at the end of each half or at the end of periods of extra time.
Position of the ball and the players
- The ball must be placed on the penalty mark
- The player taking the penalty kick must be properly identified
- The defending goalkeeper must remain on his goal line, facing the kicker, between the goalposts until the ball has been kicked
- The players other than the kicker must be located:
- inside the field of play
- outside the penalty area
- behind the penalty mark
- at least 10 yards from the penalty mark
- After the players have taken positions in accordance with this Law, the referee signals for the penalty kick to be taken.
- The player taking the penalty kick must kick the ball forward.
- He must not play the ball again until it has touched another player.
- The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward.
- The referee decides when a penalty kick has been completed.
law 15: the throw-in
- A throw-in is awarded to the opponents of the player who last touched the ball when the whole of the ball crosses the touch line, either on the ground or in the air.
- A goal cannot be scored directly from a throw-in.
- At the moment of delivering the ball, the thrower:
- faces the field of play
- has part of each foot either on the touch line or on the ground outside the touch line
- holds the ball with both hands
- delivers the ball from behind and over her head
- delivers the ball from the point where it left the field of play
- All opponents must stand no less than 2 yards from the point at which the throw-in is taken.
- The ball is in play when it enters the field of play.
- After delivering the ball, the thrower must not touch the ball again until it has touched another player.
- For any other infringement of this Law the throw-in is taken by a player of the opposing team.
law 16: the goal kick
- A goal kick is awarded when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, either on the ground or in the air, having last touched a player of the attacking team.
- A goal may be scored directly from a goal kick, but only against the opposing team.
- The ball is kicked from any point within the goal area by a player of the defending team.
- Opponents remain outside the penalty area until the ball is in play.
- The kicker must not play the ball again until it has touched another player.
- The ball is in play when it is kicked directly out of the penalty area.
law 17: the corner kick
- A corner kick is awarded when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, either on the ground or in the air, having last touched a player of the defending team.
- A goal may be scored directly from a corner kick, but only against the opposing team.
- The ball must be placed inside the corner arc nearest to the point where the ball crossed the goal line.
- The corner flag post must not be moved.
- Opponents must remain at least 10 yards from the corner arc until the ball is in play.
- The ball must be kicked by a player of the attacking team.
- The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves.
- The kicker must not play the ball again until it has touched another player.