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Soccer Basics

The Game

Soccer is a simple game. It requires a field, a ball, two teams of players and their equipment, and a referee.

The Field & Equipment

Equipment
Soccer has limited equipment requirements. However, most AYSO teams play in uniforms (shirt shorts and socks) supplied by the local region. Shin guards are mandatory during practice and games. Full-coverage shoes are required, and it is advisable to use shoes designed specifically for soccer. Regions also provide field equipment, such as goals, nets and flags.

The Field 
The field is divided in two halves. The center circle in the middle of the field is used to start the game, to start the second half and to restart after a goal has been scored. 

There is a large rectangular area and a smaller rectangular area found at each end of the field. These are vital areas for both teams, and are where penalty kicks are taken. The four corners of the field are inscribed with three-foot arcs where corner kicks are taken.

The Team 

A team has a maximum of 11 players on the field at any one time, although a game can be played with as few as seven players on a team. Regions use short-sided teams in younger age divisions. Players get more "touches" on the ball, learn skills quicker and have more fun using this method.

â–ºayso's short-sided soccer guidelines

One Goalkeeper - There is one Goalkeeper per team (in U10 & up). The Goalkeeper is responsible for guarding his/her team's goal and preventing the other team from scoring. The Goalkeeper must be identified with a different colored shirt or a vest over her/his shirt, distinct from all the other players. Goalkeepers may play anywhere on the field but may only use their hands while in their own penalty area. In Region 214, we limit U10 players to two 'quarters' in goal per goal. We believe that specialization in goal-keeping at U10 is inappropriate.

Defenders- The Defender's primary duty is to prevent the opponents from getting a good shot on goal and scoring. A defender also works to gain possession of the ball and pass it to a teammate for an attack.

Midfielders or halfbacks- The Midfielders plays a transitional game from defense to offense and vice-versa. There can be "Offensive Midfielders" who play closer to the Forwards and "Defensive Midfielders" who play closer to the Fullbacks.

Forwards- Forwards play closer to the opponent's goal, which is the goal guarded by the opposing Goalkeeper. The Forward's primary responsibility is to score and he/she also assists the mid-fielders from shifting from defense to offense. 

There are also 2 special positions that some, but not all, teams use- a "Sweeper" and a "Stopper" - A Sweeper plays behind the Defenders and a Stopper plays between the Defenders and the Midfielders. These positions add additional layers of defenders providing a defensive strength in the Center of the field.

The Officials

AYSO requires the use of three game officials--one referee and two assistant referees. We do not use the 'two-man' system except at U7 and U8.

The Referee is the ultimate authority during the game. The referee's chief responsibilities are to make the game as fun, fair and safe for the players as possible. The referee enforces the rules - which, in soccer, are called "Laws" - by calling offenses and determining if goals have been scored. 

Assistant referees provide vital assistance to the referee by signaling when the ball has gone out of play and which team gets possession. Assistant referees also assist with substitutions and the general control of the game.

 

Basic Soccer Skills

Playing soccer involves several basic skills: passing/shooting, dribbling and controlling (or trapping) the ball. These skills can be learned at any age, and a good soccer player works continually to improve them.

Passing
Passing is kicking, pushing or heading the ball to a teammate or to a space where a teammate can run to the ball. A player may lightly tap the ball to a teammate several feet away or kick it strongly to move it down the field. The ball may scoot along the ground or may be kicked into the air.

Most players use two types of kicks to pass to a teammate or shoot towards the goal. 
One is the instep drive which is a powerful kick. 
The other kick is called a push pass. Performed using the inside of the foot, the push pass is much more accurate than the instep drive, but is less powerful.

Dribbling
Dribbling is transporting the ball under control from one area to another. Soccer players cannot use their hands. Players dribble the ball with their feet, using light taps on the ball to move it along the ground.

Controlling 
Controlling (or trapping) is stopping the ball in flight or on the ground, and then controlling it by either dribbling or passing the ball to teammates. There are many ways to trap a ball: (1) allowing it to hit the chest at an angle that deflects the ball to the ground where it can be controlled; (2) allowing it to hit the thigh or bent knee to deflect the ball to the ground where it can be controlled; or (3) using the foot to stop the ball.

Heading
Heading is unique to the game of soccer. When a ball is too high to kick, players "head" the ball to pass to a teammate or score a goal.

Basic Soccer Rules 

There are 17 Laws of the Game and they are easy to understand. The object of the game is for the players to get the ball into their opponent's goal using any part of their body except hands and arms. Only goalkeepers may use their hands while inside their own penalty area. 

Generally, the Laws require that referees stop the game when something has happened which is unfair or unsafe. Important elements of the Law to be familiar with include Ball In and Out of Play, Fouls, Misconduct and Offside.

 

Ball in & out of play, Restarts

Kick Off
To start the game or the second half, and after each goal, a kick off is taken from the center circle.

Throw In
After the ball has completely crossed the side boundary lines - called touch lines - a throw in is awarded against the team that last touched the ball. The throw in is taken from where the ball left the field and must be thrown with two hands from behind and over the head, while both feet are on the ground on or behind the touch line.

Goal Kick
The goal kick is taken by the defending team each time the ball crosses the goal line without a goal being scored and was last touched by an attacking player. The ball may be placed anywhere in the goal area and is not considered back in play until it has been kicked out of the penalty area.

Corner Kick
This kick is taken by the attacking team each time the ball is kicked by the defense over its own goal line without a goal being scored. The ball is placed within the three-foot arc in the corner of the field (nearest to where the ball went out of play) and kicked into play by the attacking team.

Penalty Kick 
A penalty kick is awarded when a defending player commits one of the 10 penal (major) fouls within his or her own penalty area while the ball is still in play. The penalty kick is taken by a player from the offended team from a spot 12 yards from the goal. All players must remain outside the penalty area, 10 yards from the ball, and behind the penalty kick mark until the kick is taken, except for the kicker and the goalkeeper. The goalkeeper must remain on the goal line until the ball is kicked. Once kicked, the goalkeeper may try to stop the ball from entering the goal. The kicker, after waiting for the referee's signal, may score by kicking the ball directly into the opponent's goal.

Fouls

There are 10 major fouls that result in a direct free kick (DFK), and from which a goal may be directly scored against the opponents. The 10 penal fouls are divided into two groups. 

Six within the first group require that the foul be committed carelessly, recklessly, or with disproportionate force:

- Kicking or attempting to kick an opponent.
- Striking or attempting to strike an opponent
- Pushing an opponent
- Charging an opponent
- Tripping or attempting to trip an opponent
- Jumping at an opponent.

The other four require only that they be committed: 

- When tackling an opponent, making contact with the opponent before the ball.
- Spitting at an opponent
- Holding an opponent
- Handling the ball deliberately 
(except for goalkeepers within their own penalty areas).

Non-Penal (minor) fouls 
There are eight minor fouls that result in an indirect free kick (IFK). At least one additional player of either team must touch the ball before a goal can be scored from an IFK. 

- Playing in a Dangerous Manner Including high kicking near another player's head, trying to play a ball held by a goalkeeper, and heading the ball deliberately for all age groups below U14. 
- Impeding the Progress of an Opponent Getting between an opponent and the ball when not playing the ball. 
- Preventing the Goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his/her hands. 
- Goalkeeper Offenses an IFK is also awarded to the opposing team if a goalkeeper, within his/her own penalty area, commits any of the following five offenses.

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South Pasadena, California 91030

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