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U8 Rules of Play

AYSO 418 modified rules for U8

1. Field markings. Same as a full size soccer field (scaled down), including a "penalty area." However, the only significance of the "penalty area" is to designate an area that defensive players cannot be in when a goal kick is taken. There are no penalty kicks.

2. Teams: 5 v 5. Maximum number of players on a team, 8. Substitutions at quarters and halftime. Equal playing time for all players. Each player must play at least 3 quarters before any player can play a full game. Ball: size 3. Separate teams for boys and girls.

3. Equipment: soccer shoes (soft cleated) or tennis shoes. Shin guards mandatory at all practices and games. No jewelry (including earrings or other body piercings), watches, etc.

4. Referee: trained referee (U8/U6 level, youth, or regional or above). If a trained referee is unavailable the coaches should meet and decide which of them will referee the game, or how they should divide refereeing the game. Referees and coaches should emphasize safety, fairness, learning and fun. The referee should explain any infringements to the players and allow poor throw-ins to be retaken by the player originally throwing in the ball, until the player gets it right.

5. Duration of games: 2 twenty minute halves, each half divided into 2 quarters at approximately the half way point. Call quarters on a natural break in play if possible.

6. Rules: same as regular soccer (with distances scaled down appropriately), except that there are no indirect free kicks, no offside, no penalty kicks and no goalkeepers. Note: this is a change from the prior rule in that it eliminates any penalty kicks. We formerly had a rule providing for a modified penalty kick, but there was confusion about it, and general consensus that there was no need for it.

  • Games start with a kick off in the center of the field, with the defending team outside the center circle. A coin toss determines which team starts the game, with the winner of the toss selecting which side of the field to defend and the loser kicking off in the first half and the other team kicking off to start the second half.
  • Defending players must be outside the "penalty area" when the attacking team takes a goal kick, and must stay outside the penalty area until the ball completely crosses the line designating the penalty area. The ball must go out of the penalty area before it is in play. If it does not go out of the penalty area the goal kick is retaken, with no penalty to the kicking team.
  • Opponents must be at least 5 yards away when a free kick is taken.
  • Ball is out of play only when the entire ball has passed completely beyond the boundary line; i.e. a ball that has any portion on the line is in play and the game continues. This applies to side lines, end lines, goals.

7. No player may take up permanent or semi-permanent position within the "goal area" (this is the box in front of the goal which designates where goal kicks are taken from), unless there is active play in that area. Violators should be instructed by the referee to move, and if necessary for repeated violations the referee should talk to the coach. Note: the old rule, in effect before the Fall 2000 season, that players could not go into the goal area, has been abolished. The purpose of the current rule is to prevent players acting as de facto goalkeepers. Coaches are free to encourage players to stay back on defense.

8. Coaches should remain within 10 yards of the midfield line. Parents and coaches should not coach or instruct the players during the play of the game, but coaches may do so at the half and quarter breaks. Reasonable words of encouragement are fine at all times.

9. For safety reasons, no jewelry is allowed other than medical or religious medallions (taped down). Youngsters cannot wear earrings nor can they simply "band aid" the earring.