2018 Rules of the Game


Field of Play´╗┐

The Ball

Number of Players

Players’ Equipment

The Referee

Ejection Policy

Red Card Policy

Assistant Referee

Game Duration

Start of Play

Ball In and Out

Method of Scoring


Fouls & Misconduct

Free Kicks

Penalty Kicks


Goal Kick

Corner Kick

5 Goal Rule

Slide Tackle

Pass Back



Goal Safety

Bleeding Player




The Erie Youth Soccer Association endeavors to provide a fun, recreational, safe, learning experience for our players, coaches, referees and spectators. In the context of learning, we provide you with a manual of the rules under which our matches are to be conducted. In general, we follow FIFA (the international governing body of soccer) rules, with amendments and modifications to fit the ages, skill levels, facilities, philosophy and equipment of the Association.

Not everyone interprets, or enforces, the rules in the same manner. We do try to train all of our referees in a common interpretation of the rules. However, the personality, or understanding, of a given referee sometimes can result in a difference of opinion with a player, coach or spectator.

Differences of opinion are fine. It is the manner in which they are expressed that, at times, may cause a less than pleasant experience for those involved.

Everyone involved must remember that EYSA referees are “referees in training”. They are learning and will make mistakes. They should be treated with respect, no matter what the ‘mistake’ may be. A mistake can be turned into a positive learning experience if handled correctly.

We are all to co-operate in the EYSA experience and to work to improve it. We must have rules, or we have chaos. Please, learn our rules. You will enjoy the game more!!


a)      Size - A full size FIFA field is from 50 to 100 yards wide and from 100 to 130 yards long.  EYSA modifies the size of the playing field to adjust for the player’s age and the number of players on the field.

  • U6 & U4 – from 20 to 30 yards wide and from 40 to 50 yards long
  • U8 – from 30 to 40 yards wide and from 50 to 60 yards long
  • U10 – from 40 to 50 yards wide and from 70 to 80 yards long
  • U13 – from 55 to 80 yards wide and from 100 to 120 yards long
  • U16 – from 55 to 80 yards wide and from 100 to 120 yards long
  • U16 with 9-a-side format – from 40 to 60 and from 70 to 85 yards long

b)      Marking - The field is marked with distinctive lines. The sizes of the goal areas, penalty area and center circle are proportioned to the sizes of fields used by EYSA teams. If the same field is also used for a smaller field size then the smaller field will be marked with a different color.

c)      Goals - A full size FIFA goal is 24 feet wide and 8 feet high. The sizes of goals used by EYSA are proportioned to the sizes of fields being used by various age groups.

d)      Restraining line - A dotted restraining line will be marked parallel to the side (touch) lines on both sides of the field. This dotted line will extend the length of the field and be a distance of three feet from the side (touch) line. Spectators and players will stay behind this line during games.

e)      Team area - During the game, players and coaches excluding the coach for age groups U6 and U8 year olds, are required to stay off the field of play and within the prescribed team area while the game is being played. No one behind the goal during the game.

f)       Parents/spectators are not permitted to be on the player’s side during the game.


a)      Material - The ball may be leather, or any other durable material approved by the Association.

b)      Size - For age groups U4, U6 and U8 a size 3 ball is used. For the U10 year olds, a size 4 ball is used. For the U13 year old and U16 year old age groups a size 5 ball is used.

c)      Only balls supplied by EYSA will be used in EYSA matches.


a)      For U4 year old, U6 year old, and U8 year old teams will ideally consist of 12 players on the roster. Games will be played in a 6-a-side format with 6 players on the field including the goalkeeper.

b)      For age groups U10, teams ideally will consist of 16 players on the roster. Games will be played in a 9-a-side format with 9 players on the field including the goalkeeper.

c)      For age groups U13 year old and U16 year old teams will ideally consist of 18 players on the roster. Games will be played in an 11-a-side or full size format with 11 players on the field including the goalkeeper.  Due to low registration numbers the U16 year old team may play a 9-a-side format with 9 players on the field including the goalkeeper.

d)      Substitutions - either team may substitute as many players (goalkeeper included) as desired but only during stoppages in play (i.e., goal kicks, corner kicks, throw-ins, injuries, cautions, between periods and after scored goals).

e)      Ejected (Red Card) players may not be replaced. The team of the ejected player must play on with one less player for the rest of the match.

f)       A match will not be started or continued if the number of players available to one of the teams is less than, or falls to less than, 2 players fewer than the standard for the age group involved.

g)      In the event of one team having less than 2 players fewer than the standard at the scheduled starting time for a match, a ten minute grace period will be allowed before the match is canceled. (With agreement of both coaches and referees, a scrimmage match may be played by pooling players available from both teams, in the event that one team is short of players.)


a)      A player may not wear anything dangerous to self or other players.

b)      Shoes must be worn by all participants in a game. Shoes with soles containing leather, rubber, nylon or plastic cleats, studs or bars, (no metal) whether molded as part of the sole or detachable are allowed as long as the referee does not consider them dangerous. Baseball, football cleats or any shoes with toe cleats are not allowed.

c)      Shinguards are mandatory for all players and must be covered by stockings or socks.

d)      Players wearing orthopedic casts must have cast completely wrapped with protective padding to be eligible to play.

e)      Only uniforms issued by the Association may be worn in scheduled matches with the exception of the goalkeepers. Uniforms may not be altered unless by board authorization.

f)       Goalkeepers must wear colors which distinguish them from all other players and referees.

g)      Mouth guards are encouraged - especially for goalkeepers and players wearing orthodontic braces.

h)      NO HARD JEWELRY OR HAIR ORNAMENTS MAY BE WORN BY ANY PLAYER - Exception: Studded earrings may be worn but must be covered.


a)      One referee and one or two assistant referees will be assigned to officiate each match. The main concern of referees will be the safety of the players.

b)      Referees will enforce the rules of the game, but may choose NOT to call a foul if it is not serious and if, in the opinion of the referee, it is to the advantage of the fouled team to allow play to continue. (In the latter case, the referee should so indicate by loudly calling out, “PLAY ON!”)

c)      Referees may warn, caution and eject players and coaches who violate the rules of the game.

d)      During the games the referees will officiate the match and also assist the coaches in teaching the players the right way to play by letting the players know what they did wrong.



Any player who is ejected from a match will also be suspended from the team’s next match. A second ejection, in one season, will result in suspension from the next two matches. A third ejection, in one season, will result in suspension for the remainder of the season.

Any coach who receives a red card will be reviewed by a committee composed of the Association president, the Association head referee and an uninvolved area director, for possible disciplinary action.

Any coach who receives a second red card in the same season will be automatically removed as coach.

In addition, particularly violent, or unsportsmanlike behavior by any player or coach will be reviewed by a committee composed of the Association president, the Association head referee and an uninvolved area director. The involved area director should be present during the review. This committee will have the authority to impose a more severe penalty than prescribed above. For a first, or second ejection, the penalty could be increased to suspension for the remainder of the season.


•     The referee issuing the red card will record the offending player’s name, jersey number, team name, coach name and EYSA area number.

•     The referee will report this information to the EYSA head referee, either directly, or through the area’s head referee.

•     The EYSA head referee will notify the area director for the offending team.

•     The area director will notify the coach of the team for the red carded player to reinforce that the player can not play in the next game.

•     The area director may take other action to be sure that the player does not play. (i.e.. Advise the referees assigned to that team’s next game to be sure the player does not play.)

•     The EYSA head referee will keep track of carded players to be sure the penalties described in the “Ejection Policy” are enforced.

d)      The referee’s judgment with regard to the physical condition of the field of play, to happenings on the field during play and those authorities granted by the rules of the game are NOT to be challenged.

e)      The referee has the discretionary power to stop a match for any infringement of the rules and to suspend or terminate the match whenever, by reasons of weather, interference by spectators, interference by coach(es) or other cause, deems such stoppage necessary.

f)       The referee will allow no person, other than the players and linespersons to enter the field of play without permission of the referee.


a)      When only one referee is assigned to a match, or only one referee is present, each team will be responsible for providing one person deemed qualified to assist, as an assistant referee, in controlling the match.

b)      The assistant referee’s duties will be to indicate when a ball is out of play and which team is entitled to the appropriate restart, signal when a goal is scored and advise the head referee of any infringement of the rules which may occur outside the view of the head referee.

c)      The referee may elect not to act upon an assistant referee’s advice.


a)      Age groups U4 and U6 - four quarters of 10 minutes.

b)      Age groups U8, U10 - four quarters of 12 minutes.

c)      Age groups U13 and U16 - two halves of 30 minutes each.

d)      All matches will be conducted with a continuously running clock.

e)      At half time, the interval will not exceed 10 minutes. The interval between the first and second quarter, and the third and fourth quarter will not exceed 2 minutes.

f)       Time may be extended in any period, at the discretion of the referee(s), to make up for excessive lost time due to injury or other cause. The added time is not to disrupt schedules of other matches on the same field.

g)      Time will be extended in any period to allow the taking of a penalty kick.

h)      At the Field General’s discretion, play can be shortened due to extreme weather conditions.

i)       Lightning policy - Players/Teams must vacate the playing area once lightning is witnessed for a time period of 15 minutes and are not permitted to take the field for any reason until the EYSA Official deems the weather conditions as safe for play. Once play has been suspended, the 15 clock takes effect and will restart upon each subsequent lightning strike.


a)      Before the beginning of the match, choice of ends and kick-off will be decided by the toss of a coin. The team winning the toss will have the option of choice of ends or the kick-off.

b)      Each player must remain in their own half of the field until the ball is kicked. Players of the opposing team must stay at least 10 yards from the ball until it has been kicked. The kicker must move the ball forward (into the opponent’s half of the field). The kicker may not play the ball a second time until after it is touched by another player. A goal may not be scored directly from a kick-off.

c)      After a goal has been scored, the match will be restarted with a kick-off by a player of the team scored upon.

d)      After each half, when restarting the match, ends shall be exchanged and the kick-off will be alternated between teams to begin the next period.

e)      When the match has been temporarily suspended for any cause not mentioned elsewhere in the rules, the game will be restarted with a drop ball at the place where the ball was when play was suspended. If stoppage occurred within the penalty area, the restart drop ball will be conducted at the nearest point outside the penalty area.


a)      The ball is OUT OF PLAY when all of the ball is completely outside the outer edge of the side (touch) line or end (goal) line of the field.

b)      The ball is OUT OF PLAY when the match is stopped by the referee - indicated by sounding of the whistle.

c)      The ball is IN PLAY at all times other than those described in a) or b) above.

d       The ball is IN PLAY when it bounces off of a goal post, cross bar or corner marker and stays in the field of play.

e)      The ball is IN PLAY when it bounces off of a referee or linesperson, when they are in the field of play, and it stays in the field of play.

f)       The ball is IN PLAY after an assumed breakage of a rule, until the referee signals play to a halt by sounding the whistle.


a)      A goal can be scored only if all of the ball goes completely past the entire goal line, under the cross bar and between the goal posts, while it is legally in play.

b)      Any player on a team, including the goalkeeper, may score goals.

c)      A player may score a goal into the goal he or she is defending. This unfortunate event is called an “own goal”. The goal is awarded to the opposing team, unless the own goal has been caused by the player taking a free kick, throw-in, goal kick or kick off.


a)      A player is in an offside position if nearer to the opponents’ goal line than the ball, unless:

•     The player is in their own half of the field of play, or

•     There are at least two opponents nearer their own goal line than the attacking player.

b)      A player will only be declared offside and penalized for being in an offside position if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by a team-mate, he or she is, in the opinion of the referee:

•     Interfering with play or with an opponent, or

•     Seeking to gain an advantage by being in that position.

c)      A player will NOT be declared offside by the referee:

•     Merely because he or she is in an offside position, or

•     If he or she receives the ball directly from a goal-kick, a corner kick, a throw-in, or when it has been dropped by the referee.

d)      If a player is declared offside, the referee will award an indirect free-kick, which will be taken by a player of the opposing team from the place where the infringement occurred, unless the offense is committed by a player in the opponents’ goal area, in which case, the free kick will be taken from a point anywhere within that half of the goal area in which the offense occurred.

e)      The offside rule is only in effect in the U10, U13, and U16 age group. It will not be called in any other age group unless it is a matter of tactic (i.e. cherry picking)


a)      FOULS - There are two kinds of fouls: major and minor. A direct free kick is given to a team suffering a major foul; an indirect free kick is given for a minor foul.

b)      A referee should judge a play to be foul and award a free kick only if the player, in the opinion of the referee, is intentionally fouled, or is fouled through carelessness.

c)      A referee should not stop play to award a free kick if, in the opinion of the referee, the fouled team is better off if play continues. This is called the “advantage” clause and should be signified by the referee calling loudly, “PLAY ON”.

d)      MAJOR FOULS - There are ten major fouls which, in order to be judged foul, must be committed intentionally:

•     kicking, or trying to kick, an opponent,

•     Tripping an opponent - whether or not the opponent falls down,

•     Jumping at an opponent - whether or not contact is made,

•     Charging an opponent violently or dangerously - that is, where either the charging player or the charged player could be hurt,

•     Charging an opponent from behind. Exception: if the opponent is legally obstructing a player, that player may charge the opponent fairly, from behind (shoulder to shoulder), but the charge must not be done dangerously,

•     Hitting or spitting at, or attempting to hit, an opponent,

•     Holding an opponent,

•     Pushing an opponent,

•     Handling the ball, except by a goalkeeper in their own penalty area. Handling is a foul when the ball touches any part of the hand or arm, with intention to control the ball. NOTE: If a player is not trying to control the ball, or is instinctively protecting himself or herself from injury, the referee should not call the handling foul.

•     Slide tackle (Violent or from behind. Refer to rule 19 - slide tackle.)

e)      MINOR FOULS - There are six minor fouls:

•     Dangerous play, such as high kicking near another player’s head or trying to kick a ball held by a goalkeeper.

      NOTE: If a player puts himself or herself in danger, the referee should give an indirect free kick against that player.

•     Fair charging (shoulder to shoulder contact without danger to either player) but with the ball out of playing distance, more than about one step away.

•     Illegal obstruction - A player intentionally placing himself or herself between the ball and an opponent, when not within playing distance of the ball, to stop the opponent from playing the ball. A player putting himself or herself between the ball and an opponent while within playing distance of the ball is a legal obstruction.

•     Charging the goalkeeper - The goalkeeper cannot be fairly charged within the penalty area, and the ball must not be played while in the goalkeeper’s possession. “Possession” means any part of the goalkeeper’s body holding the ball stationary. It also means bouncing or throwing the ball into the air and catching it again.

•     Illegal play by the goalkeeper. If the ball is played by a player on the goal-keeper’s team, that player must be outside of the penalty box. If the goalkeeper touches the ball with their hands after it has been deliberately kicked to them by a team-mate. If the goalkeeper touches the ball with their hands after they have received it directly from a throw-in taken by a team-mate. 

•     Slide tackle (Refer to rule 19 - slide tackle.)

f)       MISCONDUCT - There are two kinds of misconduct; misconduct resulting in a caution, and misconduct resulting in a player or coach being sent off the field (ejected).

g)      WARNING - The referee often tells a player or coach to improve their behavior. A caution may be given if the player’s or coach’s conduct does not improve.

h)      CAUTION - The referee indicates a caution by raising a yellow card. A player or coach may be cautioned for:

•     Entering or leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission. If the referee stops the match to give the caution, an indirect free kick is given to the opposing team.

•     Continually breaking the rules.

•     Arguing with the referee’s decision. This is called “dissent”.

•     Interrupting the flow of the match, or the referee’s control of the match, with unsportsmanlike behavior. Such behavior includes purposely delaying the match, insulting behavior and purposely hard fouls.

•     Receiver of a Yellow Card must leave the field of play until the next substitution opportunity; the cautioned player may be replaced at the time of the infraction.

i)       EJECTION - The referee indicates an ejection by raising a red card. The referee should immediately send a player or coach off the field of play for:

•     Violent behavior such as kicking, hitting or spitting at anyone,

•     Use of foul, insulting or threatening language, or

•     Committing a second cautionable act after having already received a caution. The second caution (yellow card) must result in ejection from the match, but not in suspension from the team’s next match.

         An ejected player may not be replaced by a substitute. The team of the ejected player must play short.

         For more detail on our Ejection and Red Card Policy and Procedures, please turn to pages 4 and 5 in this booklet.


a)      A free kick is taken to restart play after the match has been stopped by the referee for any of the offenses mentioned above.

b)      Free kicks are classified as either:

•     Direct - a free kick in which a goal may be scored directly from the kick, or

•     Indirect - a free kick in which a goal can be scored only when the ball has been played or touched by a player, other than the kicker, prior to passing through the goal. The referee should signal an indirect free kick by holding one arm and hand upward until the ball is legally played by another player.

c)      When a player is taking a direct or indirect free kick, all of the opposing players must be at least ten yards from the ball until it is in play.

d)      Players who do not retire to the proper distance when a free kick is taken must be cautioned and, on any repeated offense, be ordered off the field.

e)      All free kicks taken by age group U6, U8, U10 players shall be indirect, except the penalty kick.


a)      If a player commits a major foul (see Rule 12) in their own penalty area, the fouled team is given a penalty kick from the penalty spot (a point 12 yards into the field of play from the goal line, centered in the field - on a full sized field).

b)      Before signaling for the kick to be taken, the referee should ensure that all players except the kicker and the defending goalkeeper are outside the penalty area and penalty arc, but inside the field of play.

c)      The opposing goalkeeper shall stand on the goal line, between the goal posts, until the ball is kicked. Lateral movement is allowed, but the goalkeeper is not permitted to come off the line by stepping or lunging forward until the ball is in play.

d)      No defending or attacking player may enter the penalty area or penalty arc before the ball is kicked.

e)      The ball must move forward. If played directly sidewards or backwards, the penalty kick must be retaken. After the ball has moved the distance equal to one full turn, any player other than the kicker may play the ball. That is, a goal may be scored directly or indirectly from a penalty kick.

f)       The kicker must not play the ball a second time before another player, from either team, has touched the ball. If the kicker does play the ball illegally in this instance, a free kick is awarded to the opposing team.

g)      No player substitutions on a penalty kick – this includes the goalie.


a)      A throw-in is taken to restart the match after the ball goes out of play past a side (touch) line. The throw-in is taken from the point where the ball crossed the line.

b)      The throw-in is awarded to the opponents of the team that last touched the ball before it went out of bounds.

c)      As the ball leaves the thrower’s hands, some part of both feet must be on the ground, either on or outside the side line.

d)      The player must throw the ball with both hands, in one continuous motion starting from  behind their head and over the top of their head.  If the ball is thrown over the players shoulder and not over their head then the throw-in will be considered as an improper throw-in.

e)      If the ball is not thrown properly, the opposing team is awarded a throw-in.

NOTE:        In age groups U4 and U6 kick-ins are used in place of throw-ins with the above rules in force.


a)      A goal kick is taken by any defending player to restart the match after the ball goes out of play past the goal line (unless it is a legal goal) after having last been touched by an attacking player.

b)      The ball is placed at any point within the goal area (6 yard box).

c)      Opponents must be at least 10 yards from the ball and must be outside the penalty area when the ball is kicked.

d)      The ball is in play when it has traveled completely outside the penalty area. If the ball does not travel outside the penalty area, a re-kick is taken.


a)      A corner kick is taken to restart the match after the ball goes out of play past the goal line (unless it is a legal goal) when last touched by a defending player.

b)      The ball is placed completely within the corner arc on the side of the field where the ball went out of play.

c)      The corner markers must not be moved or removed to assist the kicker taking a corner kick.

d)      The corner kick may be taken by any player on the attacking team. A goal may be scored by kicking the ball directly into the goal.

e)      Opponents must be at least ten yards from the ball when it is kicked, but the kicker may kick the ball when they are closer, if desired.


a)      If an EYSA soccer match reaches a goal differential of 5 (5-0, 8-3, etc.), the team that is behind will be allowed to add an additional player onto the field.  If the team that is behind by 5 does not have an extra player to add, the team that is ahead by 5 must remove a player from the field

b)      If the goal differential becomes less than 5, the additional player must be removed from the field, or the removed player is allowed to return.

c)      A maximum of one additional player can be added onto the field.

d)      If goal difference is 10 the mercy rule is in effect.  The game will be called by the refs unless the coach of the team behind by 10 wants to continue play.


a)      Slide tackling is not allowed in any EYSA match. A player who intentionally performs a slide tackle against an opponent to win the ball will receive a caution (yellow card). Subsequent slide tackles by the same player will result in a game ejection (red card).

b)      Only in U13 and U16 age group are the goalies are allowed to slide to receive a ball inside the goalie box but they may not lead with their cleats.  If the goalie leads with their cleats then it will be considered a slide tackle.  If a goalie is outside the goalie box then they are considered a field player and are not allowed to slide.  If a goalie is continuously or dangerously sliding during a game it will be at the referee’s discretion to eject the goalie from the game.

c)      Restart after a slide tackle:

•     If the tackle is a major foul (violent or from behind), restart is a direct kick. If the tackle occurs inside the penalty box, it will be a penalty kick.

•     If the tackle is a minor foul (dangerous play), restart will be an indirect kick (including inside the box).


a)      The pass back to the goalkeeper by teammates and goalkeeper parrying rule will not be enforced for age groups U6 and U8. The pass back and parrying rule will be enforced for age groups U10, U12, U14 and U16.


a)      Up to three coaches are allowed on team sidelines during EYSA scheduled matches.

b)      During the game coaches are required to stay off the field of play and within the prescribed team area. Coaches in the U6, U8 year old age groups are allowed to roam the sideline as long as it does not interfere with play while the game is being played. Coaches in the U4 year old age are allowed on the field during play but out of the way during May and June, then in July Coaches are only allowed to roam the sidelines.  Absolutely no one is allowed behind the goal during the game at any age.

c)      All coaches MUST wear the coach shirt issued by Association.

d)      We permit two (2) optional practice sessions per week beginning May 1st through May 31st, then no more than three (3) EYSA events per week beginning June 1st through July 1st, and then NO practices allowed after July 2nd.  The week starts on Monday and ends on Sunday.

e)      All coaches are expected to give each player EQUAL playing time.


a)      All spectators will view scheduled EYSA matches from the side of field opposite the team / bench side and behind the dotted restraining line.

b)      The referee has the discretionary power to stop a match for any interference by spectators.


a)      No one is permitted to hang on or play around the goals. It is everyone’s responsibility to enforce this rule.


a)      Players that are bleeding or players that have blood on their uniform must be replaced.

b)      Players can re-enter the game only when the referee is satisfied that the bleeding has been stopped and all blood has been removed from the player’s uniform.


Purpose of this rule is to ensure safety of all players under the age of 10 and ensure they are learning the basic sill sets of soccer.  EYSA views headers as an advanced skill.

  1. U4 and U6 are prohibited from performing a header in practice and games.
  2. U8 may practice headers but they are not allowed in games.

Restart after a header

  1. If a player is found to have conducted a header in game, the ball will be declared dead, and a free kick from the spot of the header will be awarded to the opposing team.



Referees of EYSA matches will use the following hand signals. Along with the use of these hand signals the referee may give a verbal explanation of the foul. The purpose of these hand signals is to provide the players, coaches, spectators and other referee with the required information to keep the flow of the game going.


EYSA Signals 






















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