In a U8 game, players get to redo a throw in if there is an infraction. This player lifted his foot the first time and was given a second chance. On the second chance, the ball never came in. Does he get a THIRD chance or does the other team get the throw in?

USSF answer (May 18, 2011):
According to the USYS U8 small-sided rules, this is the procedure:
Law 15 The Throw-In: some U8 players do not yet have the eye-hand coordination to execute a throw-in to the letter of the law. However, some U8 players have sufficient eye-hand coordination to attempt the throw-in. One ‘do- over’ per thrower should be the normal response if the throw-in is incorrect. The adult officiating the match should explain to the child how to execute the throw-in correctly.…


for u8 what is the correct timing ?

USSF answer (May 13, 2011):
According to the US Youth Soccer rules for small-sided U8 soccer:

Law 7 – The Duration of the Match: The match shall be divided into four (4) equal, twelve (12) minute quarters. There shall be a two (2) minute break between quarters one and two and another two (2) minute break between quarters three and four. There shall be a half-time interval of five (5) minutes.


In a recent U12 boys game we played a great team and lost.

The kids had lots of Fun, However my question is: How much Coaching should the Referee do during the game? He started out just commenting on fouls and explaining why he made a call or non-call. He did a fine job as a referee, but the Ref’s Coaching got progressively more in-depth as the game went on. How can a coach respectfully tell this kind of Referee to NOT coach at all. It was annoying and I wasn’t always able to hear what he was saying to my players. I think I deserve to Know if he is giving a warning or coaching. In my league in eastern PA we do have some fine Referees, But If I see this Ref again how do communicate to him that I don’t appreciate any instruction he has to offer. Referees should be impartial, right? I am not saying I want to argue his calls, I really don’t have any desire for that, but does the Ref have the authority to coach and advise players on the field? and what would be considered reasonable?

USSF answer (November 16, 2010):
Other than in some youth competitions where the competition encourages it, the referee should avoid coaching altogether. The referee can give compliments, as long as he or she ensures that each team gets a fair share, and can do normal referee things, such as chiding or warning players who are behaving improperly.

Coaches don’t want the referee coaching and referees certainly don’t want the coaches refereeing. Both are troublesome.…


I saw your answer to the question [of October 21, 2010] regarding new and old style referee uniforms.

All referees at the 2010 Far West Regionals were required to have the new style uniform. Some of the referees had to spend hundreds of dollars on new uniforms.

Additionally referees in the finals wore the Adidas kits.

Take a look at the photos at

Referees are being forced to use the new style OSI gear despite what USSF says officially and Adidas is sneaking in. USSF needs to be more sensitive to the costs associated with refereeing. We don’t need new styles and we don’t need 5 colors. This especially impacts our new and youth referees who can barely afford one color jersey. In addition to being a referee I’m also an assignor, so I see the impact on the youngsters.

Thanks for listening to me whine.

USSF answer (November 5, 2010):
We understand the problems of economy and regulation, but there are good reasons for the requirements at the Far West Regionals.

1. Adidas is one of the national sponsors of USYS, the organization that runs the youth regional tournaments. It is traditional that their uniforms are worn for the finals at USYS regional youth tournaments.

2. Official Sports International (OSI) is the official supplier of referee uniforms to U. S. Soccer and the longest-standing sponsor of the referee program. We encourage all referees to buy uniforms and equipment from them as much as possible. From the pictures on the website, it appears that the referees wore only OSI uniforms for the preliminary and semifinal games.

3. It is traditional that each referee wears nothing but the most up-to-date gear at the regional tournaments, which are a showcase for the players who have qualified and a great honor for the referees who have been selected. It is regrettable that some referees had to spend a considerable amount of money to purchase new uniforms, but they also had the right to turn down the opportunity to go the the Regionals.

4. As noted in the answer of October 21, referees may use the “old” OSI uniforms for as long as they are presentable. If any referee has a problem with uniform requirements for tournaments, he or she should call Adrian Garibay, the Federation’s Director of Registration and Referee Administration, at 312-528-1275.…


Hi! I am a grade nine referee.I have a question concerning u8 soccer, I believe the rule is that a goalie is not allowed to punt the ball over the half line, correct? But in the case that this did happen, what would the correct call be, and where would a kick take place?

USSF answer (October 4, 2010):
Unless the rules of the competition specify otherwise — see, for example, the USYSA rules for small-sided soccer — a goalkeeper may either kick or throw the ball directly into the other team’s goal.

US Youth Soccer Official Under 10 and Under 12 Playing Recommendations notes under Law 12 – Fouls and Misconduct: Conform to FIFA with the exception that an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team at the center spot on the halfway line if a goalkeeper punts or drop-kicks the ball IN THE AIR into the opponents’ penalty area. (Emphasis added.) This still allows the goalkeeper’s distribution for the ball to be punted the entire length of the field; it just cannot go directly into the opponents’ penalty area.

There is currently no rule against the goalkeeper throwing the ball the length of the field and scoring.

It could be that your local rules say what you tell us, but we suggest you check with the local authorities to be certain.…


For U12 girls soccer playing US youth soccer, following 8v8 rules, conforming to FIFA laws of the game, can a coach in charge of the division change the rules for play, specifically the following? Thanks ahead of time for your response.

Rule changes – my goal is to keep games within at least a 3 to 5 goal margin. The best way to do this is with a fair draft. Just in case we fail see below:

1. We may have to drop down to 7vs7 for the spring. So go recruit your friends daughters. We need players.

2. No team under any circumstances will be allowed to have more than 4 players from their fall team. I don’t care if schedule conflict, trade, swap, whatever. If there is a practice conflict that player will need find a place with one of the three other teams. So keep this in mind when you draft.

3. If a team is up by four or more goals, any given player for the winning side will not score more than three goals in the game. If a player kicks in a goal during this period, it will be nullified and other team will receive a penalty shot. A second infraction leads to ejection of that player and a penalty shot along with the nullification of the “goal”. (so if you have a “ringer” move her to defense or goalie after you are up). If a game falls back within a two goal margin the rule is waived.

4. If a team is up by four or more goals that team will be restricted to “three touch” until there is only a two goal margin. Infractions will lead to indirect kick.

5. If my attempts to balance the league are unsuccessful in my opinion then I will draft two players from the top one or two teams to play for the weaker teams at mid season.

USSF answer (January 21, 2010):
Those rules are not covered in the Laws of the Game or in the USYS recommended rules for small-sided soccer. They are, rather, clearly intended to be part of the rules of the competition. If there is a governing body for your league, then they must approve such changes in your rules.…


what are our (referees) responsibilities regarding the field of play itself? Specifically I am referring to a field I work occasionally that is small-sided, yet it appears to be smaller than most standard small-sided fields. During the fall season, both the coach and various parents from the “away” team challenged me regarding its size. It was safe in all aspects; these folks were questioning dimensions.

I’m not sure if what I said was correct, but I told the coach that the field was safe and playable and that I was not responsible for dimensions. Also, I believe the markings (lines) were reasonable for a small-sided field.

USSF answer (January 8, 2010):
In general there are different dimensions for different age groups in small-sided soccer. USYS has defined these at its website. If the competition in which you referee has set its own standard for small-sided fields, then you must be aware of the specific dimensions that standard calls for and ensure that the standard is met. If there is no standard, then the reasoning you followed in the situation you describe is absolutely correct.…


I was recently officiating a U8 game in a rec league when I encountered a few problems related to field markings. The biggest problem was that there were no penalty box markings on the field (but there were goal box markings). I received several complaints from coaches when goal kicks were being taken because (they said) players from the other team were too close to the ball while the kick was being taken. I am aware that fifa law requires opponents to remain outside the penalty box during the taking of a goal kick, however, due to the lack of a penalty box, I was uncertain what a fair distance would be. Another issue was when a goal keeper picked up the ball outside of the goal box, the coach of the opposing team thought that it should be a hand ball. The goal box however, was much too small an area to be the keeper’s handling area. The rules for the league were identical to Fifa law when it came to this situation, so I was confused on what course of action to take. In the end, In the end, I explained to the coaches that I would allow the keeper to handle the ball apx. 5 yards outside of the goal box, and I would place players from the opposing team 5 yards outside of the goal box during the taking of goal kicks. Please let me know if this was the appropriate action to take when I had a lack of information, or if I should have done something different.

USSF answer (October 8, 2009):
If the game was being played in accordance with the USYSA rules for small-sided soccer, then the field was actually marked correctly (at least in regard to the central question raised here). If your game was a full-sided game, then there is no doubt that problems would have arisen, as the U8 field you describe should not be used for full-sided games.

This situation should be covered in the rules of the competition, in this case the rec league. Most competitions, unless they are held at a neutral field, advise that the home team is responsible for proper preparation of the field. If the home team failed in its duty and you could not arrange for the markings to be correct, you had a choice: Inform the teams that nothing could be done and that they would have to take your decisions as fact — which the Law tells us they are — or abandon the game and report full details to the competition authority.

We suggest you check with your assignor for the rules of the competition before accepting any games you might not be prepared for. And it is the assignor’s job to ensure that you are in fact up to date on the rules for any game to which he or she assigns you.…


In the context of this question, I am the coach; but I am also a referee.

There was a miscommunication on the sideline while coaching my daughter’s U10 team and I accidentally sent 1 extra player onto the field. (I know I screwed up.)

The referee started the second half, and after several of the parents started yelling, noticed the extra person after play had already started. At which time, he randomly picked a player and told her to leave the field. When I called a different girl, he told me he was making the decision who to remove. At no time was play stopped and no cards were shown.

The ATR states that play is to stop on the discovery and the extra player is to be removed. However, I question whether the referee has the authority to determine which player is the extra one. Should the referee, after stopping play, ask the coach to remove a player or can he/she decide who needs to leave the pitch?

Thanks, in advance.

USSF answer (September 29, 2009):
First let us praise the referee for exercising a bit of good management skill: He had the wit to remove a player and not punish her, you, and your team for your screw-up. As you know, he could easily have cautioned her for entering the field of play without his permission.

However, he does NOT necessarily have the right to determine which player must leave. Only the team can do that, unless the competition is playing strictly under the Laws of the Game, in which case Law 3 will have required the team to have a roster and the referee must go by what is on the roster.  If there is a roster and if they are using Law 3 substitution rules, then it is indeed the referee who determines who is the “extra” player based on his record of who was a valid player at the end of the first half as modified by any valid substitutions he recorded prior to the start of the second half.  Failing either to have a roster or to be using Law 3 substitution rules, then clearly it is the coach who should declare who is the “extra” player.

So, while being thankful for the referee’s first bit of good sense, let the lapse as to who must leave the field go until the next stoppage and then substitute correctly (if that is permitted in your rules of competition).…


In a U-10 game in the USA, playing 6v6, a referee surprised me with what he described as a little known FIFA rule on goal kicks and goalkeeper punts. He would not let the goalkeepers kick or punt the ball on the fly over the center line (midfield line). I have coached U10 soccer for 5 years and never heard of a rule like that.

Apparently, it was OK if our goalkeeper punted or kicked the ball just short of the center line and had the ball bounce over it to one of either our players or the opposition’s players. What is the correct rule?

USSF answer (June 18, 2009):
The referee was correct. Such a rule exists in small-sided soccer (Under 10 and Under 12 only) played under the rules recommended by the U. S. Youth Soccer Association:

Law 12 – Fouls and Misconduct: Conform to FIFA with the exception that an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team at the center spot on the halfway line if a goalkeeper punts or drop-kicks the ball in the air from his/her penalty area into the opponents penalty area.

The USYS modifies the recommendation with the following advice:
Law 12
The rule on the goalkeeper’s distribution still allows for the ball to be punted the entire length of the field, it just can not go directly into the opponents’ penalty area …