Soccer Rules

70 Simplified Soccer Rules

for Youth Coaches

The official soccer rules are often difficult to understand. Below are 70 simplified rules and definitions of commonly used terms such as "Hand Ball", "Linesmen" and "Obstruction". There are even simplified and detailed versions of complex rules such as the "Offside Rule". The official rules are often modified for recreational, youth and indoor leagues. IMPORTANT - Check with your League or Club to see if they have modified the official rules. Typical modifications include field sizes, the number of players on the field, the offside rule, and at young ages whether a Goalkeeper is allowed.

Below are links to 70 soccer rules and definitions

Who makes the rules? The official soccer rules are called the "Laws of the Game" and are revised annually (usually in July) by FIFA (pronounced "FEE' fuh"), the world soccer governing body, but youth organizations usually adjust the rules to fit children. Typical adjustments are field sizes, game lengths, number of players per team, the number and frequency of substitutions, "offside" is sometimes not called, and slide tackling is sometimes not allowed. Field sizes, ball sizes, length of games & rules vary by age group. The FIFA rules do not require separate teams for girls and boys, but many soccer clubs and associations have separate leagues for boys and girls. Discuss the rule variations with an official of your league. You can find the "Laws of the Game" at (on the FIFA Home Page enter "Laws" in the search feature).

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Why is it necessary to simplify and interpret the rules? In brief, the "Laws of the Game" are not simple and can be difficult to understand. The official FIFA rules have 17 sections and the rule book is about 70 pages long. There are also an additional 44 pages titled "Questions and Answers". In addition, how to interpret the rules is discussed in referee clinics, special memos, videos for referees, and a guidebook for soccer officials that is over 300 pages long. There is also the problem that the rules use many soccer terms that are not defined in the rules (we try to define all of these terms in the SoccerHelp Dictionary) and there are quirks, such as the fact that terms which are commonly used such as "Hand Ball", "obstruction", and "Linesmen" are not defined in the official rules. Another confusing aspect of the rules is the way "Fouls" are defined; basically, they are defined not only as "Fouls" but also in the rules regarding "Cards". For this reason, to understand "Fouls" you must also read "Cards". One of the biggest problems is that the official rules don't have a good index and there aren't good cross-links to related topics. At SoccerHelp we have tried to solve these problems by simplifying the rules and providing easy to use the links so you can go from one topic to another. In some cases, such as for "offside", we have even provided a simplified explanation and a more detailed definition.

Specific questions or topics: If you have a specific question, we suggest you start below. For example, if you want to read about fouls, start at "Fouls" and then read "Cards" and follow the links. Keep in mind that many of the rules are designed to promote Fair Play and to prevent players from being hurt.

For an overview of the official rules: If you want an overview of the official rules, we suggest you go to and review the Table of Contents of the "Laws of the Game" (on the FIFA Home Page enter "Laws" in the search feature).

Keep in mind that most youth leagues, women's leagues and adult recreational leagues modify the rules: In the topics listed below we mention the typical modifications to the rules that are made by most youth leagues. The modifications that are made are usually to make matches more fun (e.g., smaller fields), safer (e.g., no slide tackling), more evenly matched or to promote a better learning environment (for example, by playing "small sided").

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Links To Simplified Soccer Rules: (We have started most of these topics with the word "soccer" so they can be found by the search engines. Except for the first four, they are in alphabetical order.)

bullet Soccer fouls

bullet Soccer cards

bullet Soccer field diagram

bullet Soccer field size

bullet Soccer advantage clause

bullet Soccer age rules (U-6, U-8, etc.)

bullet Soccer assistant referee

bullet Soccer ball (sizes and selecting a ball)

bullet Soccer booking

bullet Soccer "box" (aka the Penalty Box)

bullet Soccer cards

bullet Soccer caution

bullet Soccer center circle

bullet Soccer center mark

bullet Soccer coaching Do's and Don'ts

bullet Soccer coaching during games

bullet Soccer corner flags

bullet Soccer corner kick

bullet Soccer dangerous play

bullet Soccer direct free kick

bullet Soccer encroachment

bullet Soccer end line (aka the goal line)

bullet Soccer equipment

bullet Soccer "fair charging" (see shoulder charge)

bullet Soccer field "center" (see "middle" below)

bullet Soccer field corner arc

bullet Soccer field diagram

bullet Soccer field lines

bullet Soccer field "middle" (the terms "middle" and "center" are often misused)

bullet Soccer field size

bullet Soccer Forwards ("F's")

bullet Soccer fouls

bullet Soccer free kick

bullet Soccer Fullbacks ("FB's")

bullet Soccer goal, when scored?

bullet Soccer goal area (aka the "Goal Box)

bullet Soccer goal kick

bullet Soccer goal line (aka the "end line")

bullet Soccer goalkeeper (GK or goalie or Keeper)

bullet Soccer halfway line

bullet Soccer hand ball

bullet Soccer impeding (see "obstruction")

bullet Soccer indirect free kick

bullet Soccer injuries (expected behavior)

bullet Soccer injury time

bullet Soccer kick off

bullet Soccer late tackle

bullet Soccer "Laws of the Game"

bullet Soccer lines (rules relating to stepping on lines and the ball crossing the line)

bullet Soccer linesman

bullet Soccer Midfielders ("MF's")

bullet Soccer number of players

bullet Soccer obstruction

bullet Soccer offside rule (simplified and detailed versions)

bullet Soccer penalty area (aka the "Penalty Box" or "Box")

bullet Soccer penalty box arc

bullet Soccer penalty kick ("PK")

bullet Soccer playing time

bullet Soccer red card

bullet Soccer referee

bullet Soccer re-start

bullet Soccer sandwiching

bullet Soccer serious foul play

bullet Soccer shoulder charge

bullet Soccer side line (aka the "touch line")

bullet Soccer slide tackle

bullet Soccer small sided

bullet Soccer stoppage time

bullet Soccer substitutions

bullet Soccer throw in

bullet Soccer touch line

bullet Soccer Unsporting Behavior

bullet Soccer warning

bullet Soccer worrying the goalkeeper

bullet Soccer yellow card

bullet Things you are not allowed to do

bullet Soccer Formations - Soccer formations for soccer teams age 7 U8 to Adult.

bullet Soccer Positions - Soccer positions basics, assigning soccer positions and how to teach soccer positions.