Field Size / Goal Size
|U5||3||4-6 players||3v3||No||Micro||8-10 minute quarters|
|U6||3||4-6 players||3v3||No||Micro||8-10 minute quarters|
|U7||3||4-6 players||3v3||No||Micro||10-12 minute quarters|
|U8||3||5-7 players||4v4||No||Micro||10-12 minute quarters|
|4||10-12 players||8v8||Yes||Small||25 minute halves|
|4||10-12 players||8v8||Yes||Small||25-30 minute halves
For U5 to U8, the following is a summary of micro soccer rules; it is intended as a micro soccer primer for parents. Referees and coaches should refer to official rules and guidelines available from coordinators.For U10 and U12 rules of play, please click here.
MICRO SOCCER (3V3 AND 4V4, U5-U8)
The following details the rules for micro soccer with HESC revisions to FIFA’s Laws of the Game as modified by USSF and HYSA:
Game and Equipment Basics
Equipment: Team jersey and shorts, protective shin guards that are completely covered by the socks, and cleats (molded bottom; no replaceable cleats or metal cleats). Shirttails should be tucked in. No jewelry, watches, loose medallions, earrings (even if covered by tape), casts or exposed metal braces are allowed.
Game: Four quarters of the following lengths: U5-U6=8-10 minutes, U7=10-12 minutes, and U8=12 minutes. A parent coach or volunteer should keep time and has reasonable discretion in time keeping. The time may be adjusted for severe temperatures or player fatigue as the opposing parent coaches deem necessary. Break between quarters is 1-2 minutes for water only; halftime is 5 minutes. As much as possible, parent coaches should manage the game from the sidelines instead of the middle of the field as they can often interfere with the play. Generally, U5-6 need coach guidance on the field, but U7-8 do not.
Time, Player Management and Playing Time
Timeouts: There are no timeouts. Quarters are utilized for waterbreaks. For minor injuries, the injured player can be substituted without stopping game time.
Playing Time: Each player in the recreational program will play a minimum of 50% and no more than 75% of an entire game so long as there are substitute players available who have played less than 75% percent. Failure to comply with the seventy-five percent (75%) rule shall be grounds for disciplinary action against the coach, but shall not be grounds for protesting the outcome of a match.
Player Management: There are no positions to coach at the U5-8 recreational level. Parent coaches should praise player skills they see in the games such as dribbling ball control, passing to a team mate, hunger for scoring or saving goals, speed and agility, change of direction with ball control and engagement in the game. Parent coaches are not to specifically guide their players through every game activity, rather allow many opportunities for players to think about their play options and make creative decisions on the field. The players learn through playing experience.
Substitutions: Players can be substituted at any time during the game without game time stoppage. Parent coaches should be courteous about the timing of player substitutions.
Starts and Restarts; Ball in Play
Kick-off: Taken from the mid-line to start each half and restart after a goal (“Start your watch!”). No goal may be scored on a kickoff. At the time of the kick, all players must be on their respective sides of the field, and all defensive players must be outside the center circle. The ball must move forward to be in play and must be touched by another player on either side prior to scoring a goal. The kicker must not touch the ball a second time until it has been touched by his/her own player (first pass-reception is free). U5-6 Parent coaches can allow an incorrect kickoff and correct on the next opportunity to allow play to keep going. U7-8 Parent coaches can allow and correct first half and require a non-penalized re-do for the possessing kickoff team.
Restarts: Method and location depends upon the reason the ball went out of play. Micro soccer does not use the throw-in for any restart. Player restarting cannot play the ball to him/herself. There must be a second touch by someone else. Ball is in play once it is legally played in any direction from a restart. Beginning Spring 2013, U5-8 players will develop their skills using a “first pass-reception is free” guideline. The kicking team should pass a restart ball to a teammate while the opposing allows for the pass reception before attacking. U5-6 Parent coaches should not stop the play for mistakes with this play guideline, rather correct on the next opportunity or as they see fit for the age and level of players. U7-8 Parent coaches should use reasonable judgement on re-doing kick ins related to “first pass-reception is free” guideline. Kick in Restarts include goal kicks, corner kicks, sideline out of bounds, kick offs, and kicks awarded from fouls. Restarts from fouls should be used sparingly and only after repeated fouls from the same player. Otherwise, parent coaches can remind players of the proper soccer rules.
Out-of-bounds: The ball must be completely out of bounds (in the air or on the ground) to be out. Location of the ball matters; location of player’s feet generally doesn’t matter. On the line is IN. Out-of-bounds restarts with a kick-in by the opposing team. Place the ball on or within 1’ behind the touchline where ball went out, and restart with an Indirect Free Kick (e.g. no direct kick into the goal that results in a score—the ball must be passed to a teammate first).
Goal Kick: If out on the offense, the defense restarts with a goal kick from anywhere on the goal box line in front of the goal. If out on the defense, the offense restarts with a corner kick. Parent coaches should support the “first pass-reception is free” guideline for optimal player development.
Foul: Fouls can be handled in many ways depending on the age group and location of foul. A parent coach should use reasonable judgement on how to award a restart from opposing team’s foul. Fouls should be called sparingly because they are not typically intentional at young ages. Players using their hands or arms can be reminded of the correct soccer rules as well as players pushing or running into others. If a player repeatedly fouls, one of the following can be selected with the purpose to teach the correct soccer play behaviors. Remember that no score is kept at U5-U8.
1) If the foul occurred during regular play, then allow a first pass-reception free restart pass from on or near spot of foul or the nearest sideline location.
2) if the foul occurred as a player was attempting to shoot on goal, allow a free penalty kick in front of goal with all teammates and opposing team waiting behind kicker. The kicker should be the player most involved in the foul, not the best kicker on the team as there is no official score keeping. For U5-U6, the penalty kick will be taken halfway from goal to half line. For U7-U8, the kick will be placed at the top of the center circle.
Dropped Balls: Drop balls on the large field of play are typically awarded when simultaneous fouls occur by opposing teams or a clear judgement cannot be made by the referee during a play. There are no drop balls awarded in U5-8 recreational soccer. If a drop ball seems absolutely necessary, a parent coach should roll the ball on the ground into an open space on the field so that all players can try to take possession of play. Do not create an actual drop ball scenario.
No scores or standings are kept in micro soccer U5-U8.
A goal is made when the ball is legally played by an offensive player from his/her attacking side of the mid-line into the opposing goal. To score a goal, the ball must be completely over the goal line (as with balls out-of-bounds), and cannot result from a handball, or other attacking player foul. Players can enter the goal box to play any ball before it goes over the goal line.
An “own goal” (inadvertent goal by defense) only counts if scored while the ball is in play, not by a player mistake such as going the wrong direction.
Penalty kicks and 1v1 shoot outs (described above in Foul) are the only direct kicks from which a goal may result.
No goal can be scored on a kickoff. Kickoff restarts must first be passed to a teammate.
No goal may be scored directly from sideline kick-ins, goal kicks, corner kicks, and restarts placed at the spot of a foul.
Penalty Area and Penalty Kicks
Goal Box (previously called Hot Lava Zone): There is a rectangular goal box directly in front of the goal previously often referred to as the Hot Lava Zone to remind players not to stand in the lava area waiting for an offensive pass or defensive save. Players may play all parts of the field at any time, including the goal box (lava zone). Players may not stand in or immediately around the goal box waiting for the ball to be passed to them nor can they stand in or around the goal box to defend an offensive attack or shot on goal. This applies to the defending team on corner kicks also.
Penalty Kick: A penalty kick is taken from the penalty mark. For U5-U6, the penalty mark will be halfway from goal to half line. For U7-U8, the mark will be at the top of the center circle. All other players are to be behind this mark and at least 8’ away from the ball when kicked. There is no follow-up play after an unsuccessful penalty kick; a goal kick is awarded to the defense.
Violations of the Spirit of the Rules of Micro Soccer: Goalkeeping and Offsides
Goalkeepers: NO GOALKEEPERS ARE ALLOWED. ”De facto” goalkeepers, players consistently parked in front of the Goal Box, defeat the purposes of micro soccer, which are to afford each player maximum touches and encourage wide-open play.
Snowbirding or Cherrypicking: There are technically no offsides calls in micro soccer. ”Snow bird” or “Cherry picker” goals are scored by players who constantly remain behind all defenders in their offensive end of the field. This is not acceptable and shuld be corrected by the parent coach. All players on the field should be engaged directly in the play on the field.
“Habitual offenders” and their coaches are warned against such positioning. Goals scored by those who gain an advantage from their position and lack of involvement in active play can be disallowed. Such player positioning is a violation of the spirit of micro soccer rules.
Other Rules, Policies, and Recommendations
All parties (players, parents, and coaches) are reminded that sportsmanship is of the utmost importance to create a FUN and POSITIVE game day experience. Players should demonstrate sportsmanship at all times toward teammates, opponents, referees, and parents of opposing players.
On the sidelines: Parents should encourage without instructing. Comments like “Kick it!” “Shoot!” or “Boot it!” may be contrary to the parent coach and team trainer’s instructions to the players and can be confusing to the players, especially at the younger ages. Avoid negative or sarcastic comments to other players, referees, opposing players or parents of the opposing team. Negative comments are hurtful and are not in the spirit of the game.
Parents should watch the game exclusively from a designated sideline and should not enter onto the field. In the event of injury, the referee or parent coach will signal the parent if attention to the player is required.
At U7-U8 where parent referee volunteers are often used, parents and parent coaches should not argue with the referee’s judgement The parent has volunteered to help create a safe and orderly game day experience.