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Just getting started with soccer? Brush up on some basics of the game below, including differences by age group.

Law 1 - The Field of Play

  • 4v4 field: 20x30 yards
  • 7v7 field: 40x60 yards
  • 9v9 field: 50x75 yards
  • 11v11 field: full-size
  • 7v7 field: Includes a build out line. Goalkeepers will pass, throw or roll the ball into play. Punts and drop kicks are not permitted. If a goalkeeper punts or drop kicks the ball, an indirect free kick should be awarded to the opposing team from the spot of the offense. If the punt or drop kick occurs within the goal area, the indirect free kick should be taken on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the nearest point to where the infringement occurred.

Law 2 - The Ball

  • U5-U8: size 3 ball
  • U9-U12: size 4 ball
  • U13-U15: size 5 ball

Law 3 - The Players

  • number of players:
    • U5-U8: 4v4, no goalkeeper
    • U9-U10: 7v7
    • U11-U12: 9v9
    • U13-U15: 11v11
  • 4v4: Substitutions are unlimited and can occur at any time.
  • 7v7, 9v9, 11v11: Substitutions are unlimited and can occur at any stoppage.

Law 4 - The Players' Equipment

  • Players need to wear shin guards, shirts/jerseys, athletic shorts/pants, socks, and approved footwear (shoes). Shin guards must be fully covered by the socks.
  • Players may not wear dangerous items, including jewelry, watches, and bracelets (even soft, woven bracelets). The referee has sole discretion to determine the safety of any item. Coaches and parents should remind players not to wear these items to games.

Law 5-6 - The Referee and Assistant Referees

  • 4v4: no referees, coaches manage the games
  • 7v7 and 9v9: one referee
  • 11v11: one center referee and two assistant referees
  • Game ejections (red cards) must be reported to the Supervisor of Refereeing within 24 hours of the action.

Law 7 - The Duration of the Game

  • 4v4: four 10-minute quarters, 5 minute breaks between quarters
  • 7v7 intramural: two 25-minute halves, 5-minute halftime
  • 9v9 intramural: two 30-minute halves, 5-minute halftime
  • 11v11 intramural: two 30-minute halves, 5-minute halftime
  • Teams will switch halves at half time.
  • The clock will not be stopped during the game, but the referee should add time for stoppage of the game.

Law 8 - The Start and Restart of Play

  • 4v4: Kick offs, free kicks, throw-ins, goal kicks and corner kicks are used to start or restart play. Kick-ins and/or dribble-ins are also acceptable. Opponents should be 10 feet away from the ball on all restarts.

Law 9 - The Ball in and out of Play

  • No changes, but note: the whole ball must completely cross the boundary lines for the ball to be out of play.

Law 11 - Offside

  • 4v4: no offside
  • 7v7: The build out line will be used to denote where offside offenses can be called. Players cannot be penalized for an offside offense between the halfway line and the build out line. Players can be penalized for an offside offense between the build out line and goal line.

Law 12-14 - Fouls and Misconduct, Free Kicks, and The Penalty Kick

  • 4v4: No direct free kicks or penalty kicks. If used, all free kicks are indirect.

Law 16-17 - The Goal Kick, The Corner Kick

  • 4v4: Goal kicks and corner kicks should be taken in the general vicinity of the respective goal or corner.
  • No changes, but note: coaches should instruct players that the ball simply must be on the line of the arc. It need not be entirely within the arc for a corner kick; ball must be within the goal area for a goal kick.

View the complete Laws of the Game at the U.S. Soccer website.

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