The Basic Rules of Youth Soccer

Over three million kids play soccer every year, making it one of the most popular youth sports in the United States. If your son or daughter has expressed interest in joining a soccer league, it’s a good idea to brush up on the basic rules of youth soccer before their first game. After all, you’ll have more fun watching your child if you understand how to play the game.

Youth Soccer Team Size & Game Lengths 

Youth soccer teams consist of eight to 11 players. The objective is to get the soccer ball into the opponent’s goal to score a point.Time on field depends on the age of the players, the older they are, the more time in a game.  Games start at 30 minutes in length at the youngest level and can run as long as 90 minutes at the oldest age groups.  

How to Play Soccer

Play begins with a kick-off at midfield. A coin toss determines which team kicks off first. Then, the teams line up on their respective sides of the field. To start the game, the referee places the ball on the center spot along the midfield line. The kicker makes initial contact with the ball on the ref’s whistle, they can’t touch the ball again until another player kicks it. Other kick-offs occur throughout the game, including after every goal and to begin each quarter. 

Apart from throwing the ball onto the field from out of bounds, soccer players are not allowed to touch the ball with their hands or arms. (Goalies standing within their designated areas are the exception to this rule.) However, players can use any other part of their body to control, pass, or stop the ball. In youth soccer, if a player intentionally touches the ball with a hand or arm, the opposite team gets a free, indirect kick.

How Scoring and Winning Works in Youth Soccer

A point, or goal, is scored when the ball passes into the opposing team’s goal. It only counts if the entire ball crosses the goal line. Every goal is worth one point. If the score is tied at the end of the game, one of these things may happen:

  • The game ends in a tie.
  • A coin toss determines the winner.
  • The game goes into overtime (usually consisting of a 10-minute quarter, or until one team scores a goal).
  • The players engage in a shootout, where each team gets three penalty kicks, alternating turns. The team with the most penalty kick goals wins. If the game is still tied after three penalty kicks each, the shootout proceeds to sudden death.

How Soccer Referees & Officials Work  

 In youth soccer, a referee runs the match. The officials’ responsibilities include:

  • Keeping the time
  • Keeping score
  • Enforcing the rules
  • Starting and stopping the game
  • Warning or removing players from the field
  • Calling when the ball is out of play
  • Determining which team gets to take possession of the ball
  • Correcting players for any rule-breaking

What Constitutes a Foul in Youth Soccer?

Depending on the level of play, there are no yellow cards, red cards, or penalty kicks for committing a foul in youth soccer. Instead, the opposite team gets a free, indirect kick. Any player who engages in dangerous play, obstruction, grabbing, unsportsmanlike conduct, or other inappropriate behaviors should be coached by the referee and/or coach.

Soccer Positions in Youth Soccer

Player positions are simplified in youth soccer. At the youngest level, goalies aren’t permitted. The junior and senior levels streamline the standard forward, midfielder, and defender positions into offensive and defensive positions. Offensive players are encouraged to stay on the opposing team’s side to score a goal, while defensive players remain on their team’s side to help defend the goal. At these age levels, there is also a goalie, who gets a  free pass to a teammate to restart play after a save.

How i9 Sports®® Caters Youth Soccer to Each Age Group

Our goal is to make soccer fun and safe while teaching the fundamentals of the game to any child who wants to play. Our age groups include:

  • Pee Wee Soccer – Age 3 to 6
  • Junior Soccer – Age 7 to 9
  • Senior Soccer – Age 10+

We provide an instructional format to help players develop soccer skills while continually recognizing players for trying their best and exhibiting good sportsmanship. Here’s a look at how we cater youth soccer to each age group:

  • Pee Wee: For our youngest players, we focus on kicking the ball and refraining from using their hands. As they get a little older, we expand on the fundamentals with more dribbling and kicking skills. The goal with this age group is to create comfort with the ball at their feet.
  • Junior: By this age, players understand the team concept and interact more effectively with each other and their surroundings. We focus on teaching better ball control and how passing to teammates can help score a goal.
  • Senior: As players continue mastering fundamental soccer techniques, they develop greater confidence in controlling the ball and handling different game scenarios. We teach tactical understanding and encourage creativity within this age group. While the structure of training sessions is similar to that of older players, we recognize and cater to the limited strength and endurance of our pre-teen athletes.

How to Sign Up Your Child for Youth Soccer

Is your son or daughter interested in playing soccer? Consider what i9 Sports® has to offer. Our youth soccer programs stand out from other soccer leagues because we focus on safety, good sportsmanship, and convenience for busy families. Whether your child has years of soccer experience or is brand-new to the game, you can expect age-appropriate instruction and skill-based matches to meet their needs. To learn more, please browse our programs or contact an i9 Sports® office near you today!

The basic rules of youth soccer.i9 Sports