All rules contained below are informed and guided by the IFAB Laws of the Game and US Youth Soccer. Unless explicitly listed below, or in supplemental materials provider by SYSA, the current Laws of the Game should apply
IFAB Rules can be found at
Number of Players and Game Durations:
Taken directly from IFAB's Laws of the game
A player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous. All items of jewelry (necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings, leather bands, rubber bands, etc.) are forbidden and must be removed. Using tape to cover jewelry is not permitted.
U8 (grades 1-2): At the taking of a goal kick all players on the defending team must retreat to the halfway line until the ball has been played. Violation of this offense results in a retaking of the kick. Coaches may opt to implement a multiple touch rule in cases where one or both teams struggle to gain possession or control after a goal kick.
U9/U10 (grades 3-4): For all age divisions utilizing the breakout line, on a goal kick, the defending team must retreat behind this line until the ball has been played. Violation of this can result in a retaking of the kick, unless the referee determines an advantage is gained from the play. If a team opts to take a quick kick before all opposing players have retreated behind the line, then the referee shall allow the play to continue.
U10-U18 (Grade 3-4 and up): Substitutions can occur only during the following opportunities:
After a goal by either team
Prior to a throw-in by the throwing team
Prior to a goal kick by either team
After an injury by either team, when the referee stops the play. Only one substitution for the injured player is allowed, opposing team may substitute one player only.
For a cautioned player, opposing team may substitute one player only.
In all SYSA games, any time a referee stops the game due to injury and the coach enters the field of play, the injured player must leave the field. They can return, when the referee permits it, without being substituted.
NOTE: Once a team substitutes a player in the above situations, the opposing team may substitute an unlimited amount of players.
U8 (Grade 1-2): Substitutions are “on-the-fly”, but are encouraged to be enacted at any stoppage of play.
A goal can be scored directly from a kick-off, a goal-kick, or a corner kick.
A goal cannot be scored directly from a throw-in, unless it touches another player.
A player kicking the ball directly into their own net from the kick off results in a corner kick for the opposing team.
Heading the Ball:
Players under the age of 12 MAY NOT use their head to play the ball. The referee must award an indirect free kick from the spot of the infraction if the use of the head was intentional, or a dropped ball if it was unintentional. If intentional and in the box, the referee should place the ball on the closest line parallel to the goal line.
All players, coaches, staff, officials, and fans are expected to behave in a manner consistent with the developmental focus of youth sports. Derogatory, discriminatory, abusive, or violent language or actions, whether directed at any player, fan, coach, official, or member of the SYSA staff, including volunteers, will not tolerated. A violation of this policy may result in disciplinary action that can include removal from participation in current or future SYSA related programs or activities.
Number of Players
Size of the Ball
Grades 7 - 9
2 x 30 Min Halves
11 v 11
Grades 5 - 6
2 x 30 Min Halves
9 v 9
Grades 3 - 4
2 x 25 Min Halves
7 v 7
Grades 1 - 2
4 x 12 Min Quarters
4 v 4
If the ball hit the arm of a player while they were making a play for the ball, is that handling?
Not necessarily. The Laws of the Game have clarified that the ball making contact with the arm, in line with the bottom of the armpit is NOT handling. Essentially, using the shirt sleeve as a guide, anything below the sleeve may be handling. Anything above is not.
You just said MAY be handling. Why?
The player may still not be in violation of Law 12 unless they:
deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, for example moving the hand/arm towards the ball
touch the ball with their hand/arm when it has made their body unnaturally bigger. A player is considered to have made their body unnaturally bigger when the position of their hand/arm is not a consequence of, or justifiable by, the player’s body movement for that specific situation. By having their hand/arm in such a position, the player takes a risk of their hand/arm being hit by the ball and being penalised.
score in the opponents’ goal directly from their hand/arm, even if accidental, including by the goalkeeper or immediately after the ball has touched their hand/arm, even if accidental
A child was playing the ball on the ground and the referee didn’t blow their whistle. Isn’t that against the rules?
No. Playing the ball on the ground is NOT against the Laws of the Game. Think of it this way, if playing the ball on the ground was illegal, then why are slide tackles permitted in soccer? The Laws define playing in a dangerous manner as:
any action that, while trying to play the ball, threatens injury to someone (including the player themself) and includes preventing a nearby opponent from playing the ball for fear of injury.
This means that if in the opinion of the referee a player goes down on the ground and continues to play the ball, but they are not putting themself or another player at risk, then they have committed no offense.