70 Simplified Soccer Rules

for Youth Coaches

Below are 70 simplified soccer rules and definitions of terms such as "Hand Ball". Soccer Rules are also called the "Laws of the Game ". The official rules are usually modified for recreational, youth and indoor leagues, and the number of players, offside, and other things can vary. Check with your League or Club to see if they have modified the official rules.

We have simplified the Rules and made them easy to understand. The official soccer rules and guidebook are complicated, poorly organized, and hundreds of pages long.

The articles below are cross-linked so you can easily get the answers you need.

Links to 70 Simplified Soccer Rules and Definitions: Except for the first five links, the links are in Alphabetical order.

bullet Fouls - The 10 kinds of Direct Kick Fouls and the 8 kinds of Indirect Kick Fouls are explained. Also see "Cards".

bullet Cards - Explains the 7 offenses for which a Yellow Card can be given and the 7 offenses for which a player must be shown a Red Card and sent off the field.

bullet Offside Rule - Simplified - A Simplified Explanation of the Offside Rule. In the Alphabetical List below is a link to a Detailed Explanation. The Offside Rule is complicated. The article Includes a tip about how you can easily teach attackers to not be Offside.

bullet Field diagram - A diagram of the parts of the field.

bullet Field size - Recommended field sizes for different ages - U6, U8, U10, U12, U14 and Adult.

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bullet Advantage clause - Explains why the Referee may decide to not stop play even though a foul has occurred.

bullet Age rules (U6, U8, etc.) - How to determine a player's "soccer age". A player's "Soccer Age" refers to the age group a player is placed in, such as "Under 8", which is called U8.

bullet Assistant referee - aka "Linesman"

bullet Ball (sizes and selecting a ball) - Explanation of soccer ball sizes and how to select a ball.

bullet Booking - What it means when the Referee "books" a player.

bullet "Box" (aka the Penalty Box) - aka the Penalty Box and Penalty Area. The large box in front of the goal in which the goalkeeper can touch the ball with hands.

bullet Cards - Cards are explained. Also see Fouls.

bullet Caution - When the Referee shows a player a Yellow Card.

bullet Center circle - The circle in the center of the field on the Halfway Line.

bullet Center mark - The mark in the center of the Center Circle on which the ball is placed for a kick-off.

bullet Coaching Do's and Don'ts- A list of things youth coaches are should do and not do. Above that, see no. 18, "Things You Are Not Allowed To Do".

bullet Coaching during games- If you are a Rec coach and only practice once a week, your players will learn faster if you coach during games. This article explains how to do that effectively.

bullet Corner flags - Flags that mark the corners of the field.

bullet Corner kick - Corner Kicks, how offside applies, when a Corner Kick is awarded and the procedure, and the rules. A goal may be scored directly from a corner kick.

bullet Dangerous play - Explains Dangerous Play and the penalties for Dangerous Play.

bullet Direct free kick - On a direct kick, a goal can be scored by kicking the ball into the goal without it first touching another player.

bullet Encroachment - When a defender is closer than the rules allow on a goal kick, corner kick, free kick, kick off, or penalty kick.

bullet End line (aka the goal line) - aka the Goal Line

bullet Equipment - Rules regarding shin guards, cleats, clothing, jewelry, etc.

bullet "Fair charging" (see shoulder charge)- See Shoulder Charge.

bullet Field "center" (see "middle" below) - The terms "center" and "middle" are often confused. The Center is an imaginary line between the 2 goals. The Middle is where the Middle Third of the field is and includes the Halfway Line.

bullet Field corner arc - The small arc at each corner of the field.

bullet Field diagram - A diagram of a soccer field.

bullet Field lines - Rules about the lines that define the field and that are on the field. When the ball is out of bounds, when the ball can be placed on the line, etc.

bullet Field "middle" (the terms "middle" and "center" are often misused) - The terms "middle" and "center" are often misused. The Middle is where the Middle Third of the field is and includes the Halfway Line, from sideline to sideline. The Center is an imaginary line between the 2 goals.

bullet Field size - Recommended field sizes for various ages.

bullet Forwards ("F's") - Forwards are the primary scorers who usually play closer to the other team's goal than Midfielders and Fullbacks.

bullet Fouls - The 18 kinds of Fouls are explained.

bullet Free kick - The rules for Free Kicks are explained. There are 2 types of free kicks (direct and indirect) and a special type of Direct Free Kick called a Penalty Kick.

bullet Fullbacks ("FB's") - Fullbacks are primarily Defenders who usually play closer to their own goal than Midfielders and Forwards.

bullet Goal, when scored? - A goal is scored when the ball totally crosses the end line inside the goal.

bullet Goal area- aka the Goal Box. The small box in front of the goal within which the ball must be placed to take a goal kick - the ball can also be placed on the line that defines the Goal Box.

bullet Goal kick - Rules and tips.

bullet Goal line (aka the "end line") - aka the end line. The lines that define the ends of the field.

bullet Goalkeeper (GK or goalie or Keeper) - Also called GK or Goalie or Keeper. Rules affecting the Goalkeeper.

bullet Halfway line - Line across the middle of the length of the field (sideline to sideline) that splits it into two equal halves.

bullet Hand ball - When touching the ball with hands is allowed and not allowed. Definition of the "hand". Penalties for using hands.

bullet Impeding (see "obstruction") - Explanation and examples of "impeding". "Impeding the Progress of an Opponent" is an Indirect Kick Foul. This used to be called "obstruction".

bullet Indirect free kick - Rules and tips. On an indirect kick, another player (on either team) must touch the ball before a goal can be scored. How to know if an indirect or a direct kick foul has been called.

bullet Injuries (expected behavior) - Rules and expected behavior when a player is injured on the field.

bullet Injury time - "Stoppage Time" is the correct term. This applies to high-level matches but not to most youth matches.

bullet Kick off - Rules and tips for kick offs.

bullet Late tackle - A Late Tackle is usually a slide tackle that makes contact with the ballhandler just after he has passed the ball.

bullet "Laws of the Game" - The rules of soccer.

bullet Lines - Rules relating to stepping on lines and the ball crossing the line.

bullet Linesman - Assistant Referees used to be called Linesmen.

bullet Midfielders ("MF's") - Midfielders usually play between Fullbacks and Forwards.

bullet Number of players - The official rules call for 11 players per side, but youth leagues usually reduce the number so players get more touches on the ball. Some leagues play with as few as 3 or 4 field players per side and no goalie.

bullet Obstruction - See "Impeding" above.

bullet Offside Rule - Detailed Start with the Simplified Offside Rule that is below - it is much easier to understand. At this link is a Detailed explanation of the Offside Rule. Offside is a complicated rule. The article includes a coaching tip.

bullet Offside Rule - Simplified - A Simplified Explanation of the Offside Rule. In the Alphabetical List below is a link to a Detailed Explanation. The Offside Rule is complicated. The article Includes a tip about how you can easily teach attackers to not be Offside.

bullet Penalty area - aka the "Penalty Box" or "Box". This is the large box in front of the goal in which the goalkeeper can touch the ball with hands.

bullet Penalty box arc - aka the "D". The half circle at the top of the Penalty Box.

bullet Penalty kick ("PK") - aka "PK". Rules are explained. This is a special type of Direct Free Kick. Tips.

bullet Playing time - Most recreational leagues have a rule that each child must play at least 50% of every game he or she attends.

bullet Red card - A Red Card means a player is ejected from the game and may not be replaced. A Red Card does not have to be preceded by a Yellow Card.

bullet Referee - Most youth games have one referee on the field, called a "Center Referee", who is the referee-in-charge and some also have 2 Assistant Referees (Linesmen).

bullet Re-start - A Re-start happens any time play is stopped and restarted, such as on a Corner Kick, Goal Kick, Throw-In, Kick-Off, Free Kick or Penalty Kick.

bullet Sandwiching - Sandwiching is a foul that occurs when 2 or more teammates "hold" an opponent by boxing him in - it is penalized by a direct kick.

bullet Serious foul play - For Serious Foul Play, a player must be given a "red card" & "sent off" the field.

bullet Shoulder charge - aka Shoulder Tackle and Fair Charge. Rules for a legal Shoulder Charge,. A type of "tackle" which can be legally used to try to "win" (i.e., gain possession of) the ball.

bullet Side line - aka the "touch line". The long sides of the field.

bullet Slide tackle - Rules for when a Slide Tackle is a foul. A Slide Tackle is when a defender slides on the ground and attempts to kick the ball away from the ballhandler.

bullet Small sided - Definition of small-sided play and the advantages.

bullet Stoppage time - aka "Injury Time". This applies to high-level matches but not to most youth matches.

bullet Substitutions - Rules, procedures and tips for substituting players.

bullet Throw in - Rules for Throw-Ins.

bullet Touch line - aka the Side Lines. The long sides of the field.

bullet Unsporting Behavior - The Referee can give a Yellow Card for behavior that the Referee thinks is unsporting or causes an unfair advantage. Click the link for examples.

bullet Warning - Often the Referee will give a player an informal warning before giving a Yellow Card.

bullet Worrying the goalkeeper - This is explained. It is a foul to harass, interfere with, or obstruct the Goalkeeper from putting the ball into play.

bullet Yellow card - A Yellow Card is a serious "caution". Two Yellow Cards in one game and the player is shown a Red Card and ejected. See "Cards" above for more.

bullet Things you are not allowed to do - No. 18 at this link lists things coaches are not allowed to do. For example, Coaches may not go onto the field during a game except with the referee's permission.