Welcome! This page is intended to provide an overview of the laws of the game so that you may enjoy watching your kids play, understand why the referee is doing what he or she is doing, and ideally encourage some of you to join in and volunteer as a referee.
As new soccer parents, please remember that the game you are watching is not the World Cup nor is it a tryout for the LA Galaxy or Barcelona. There are no college scouts present. The goal is for your children to have fun, play with friends, and learn some basic soccer skills.
The referee is someone from the neighborhood with kids, brothers, sisters, or other family members in the program. The referee is just like you, except he or she has volunteered to help all of the kids enjoy the game.
The coaches are from the neighborhood and also have kids, brothers, sisters, or other family members in the program. The coaches are just like you, except they have volunteered to help all of the kids have fun while learning the game.
Little kids playing a soccer game with volunteer coaches and volunteer referee. This is a time for smiling and cheering!
Please save the shouting for the World Cup…
Volunteers and Certifications
Any adult or youth who is participating in a soccer match as a referee, coach, assistant coach, or team parent, or is in any other way in a position of authority over children other than their own, must:
- be a registered volunteer for the year in question (AYSO “years” start on Aug 1 and end July 31),
- have Safe Haven certification no earlier than Aug 2011 (if they have Safe Haven from before Aug 2011, they must be recertified), and
- be trained and certified for their volunteer position.
The “Referees” page has step-by-step instructions on becoming a volunteer and completing Safe Haven certification.
U6 – Referees preferred but not mandatory
Each U6 team is expected to have at least one active volunteer who is certified as a referee (minimum training as U8 Official), with recent Safe Haven certification. The convention is that the home team provides the referee for each match.
Please attend the NEW PARENTS MEETING on August 27th at 7pm at Covenant Presbyterian Church. After this meeting you can take a very short quiz to become a certified U8 official.
In the case that the home team does not have a certified referee available, the visiting team should provide the referee. The goal is to have a certified referee out there.
In those cases where there is no certified referee available from either team, the game shall commence so long as the person that takes charge of the match is an active volunteer with Safe Haven. All of our Coaches, Assistant Coaches, and Team Parents should meet these qualifications. For those who step into the middle without having completed the U8-Officials or other AYSO referee training, the notes below will help you survive.
U8 and older divisions: Referees are MANDATORY
U8 and older games shall not take place without a certified referee in charge. Each team in U8 and older divisions U8 are required to provide at least one certified referee who earns points for the team by serving as a referee and assistant referee.
Before the match begins, the referee must make sure all of the players are in compliance with the Safety rules.
The referee’s safety is important too! Closed-toe shoes (i.e., sneakers, cleats) are required. Broken toes and cuts on your feet are no fun. And sunscreen. Wear sunscreen.
When the ball goes out of play
When the ball goes out of play, it comes back into play in one of four ways:
A ball kicked (or touched, deflected, etc.) over the touchline results in a throw-in for the other team
A throw-in is taken with both feet on the ground, behind or touching the touchline, with two hands from behind and over the head
See “Spririt of the laws” below for another tip
2. Goal Kick
A ball kicked by an attacking player over the goal line of the opposing team (and isn’t a goal) results in a goal kick for the defending team
The goal kick may be taken from anywhere inside the goal area
NOTE: When a goalkeeper stops a shot, s/he may release the ball into play by kicking or throwing it (this is NOT a goal kick)
3. Corner Kick
A ball kicked by a defending player over its team’s goal line (and isn’t a goal) results in a corner kick for the attacking team
A kick-off is used to start the game, to restart after a goal, or to restart after half-time
The ball must move forward
A goal may be scored directly from a kick-off
U6 plays 15-minute halves and U8 plays 20-minute halves, with breaks for substitutions approximately half way into the first half and again half way into the second half. There is a nice table that shows all this for all divisions on the referees page.
The referee waits for a natural stoppage (i.e, goal, throw-in, corner, goal kick, foul) to stop the game for substitutions and then restart according to the reason for the stoppage.
In U8, each player is only allowed to be in goal for one quarter of the game. In U10, each player is only allowed to be in goal for one half of the game. This restriction is intended to help ensure everyone gets a chance to play and develop their skills in all positions even if they “just want to be the goalkpeer”. In U12 and older, there are no restrictions, and in U6 there are no goalkeepers.
We don’t call offside in U6 or U8 so don’t even worry about it. If you’re curious, read this.
Offside is called in U10 and older divisions. If you don’t know about offside, read this.
A player who tries to kick the ball near the face of an opponent has committed a foul
A player who tries to kick the ball while the goalkeeper has possession of the ball has committed a foul
Except for “handball”, fouls don’t have to be deliberate – for example, accidentally tripping an opponent is still a foul
U6 and U8: all fouls result in direct free kicks (meaning that a goal may be scored directly from the kick) and there are no penalty kicks.
Note that this is a very high level view of fouls in soccer. If you want more, please come join us in referee training.
There is no such thing as “Handball”, so you can stop shouting it now 🙂
A player who deliberately handles the ball, except for the goalkeeper inside his own penalty area, has committed a foul
A child who uses his or her arms to protect himself or herself from being hit by a ball is NOT a “handball” in U6 or U8 (and often in U10 and even older divisions).
The key word is “deliberate”! Read more here
The player putting the ball back into play via throw-in, goal kick, corner kick, free kick, or kick-off may not touch the ball again until it is touched by another player
The Spirit of the Laws
The referee’s job is to make the game safe and fair, for the maximum enjoyment of the players and spectators
Don’t get too picky on throw-ins in U6, U8, and U10. they’re just learning…