My my My my

Soccer 101

This page is intended for those who know little or nothing about soccer. It is not a complete list of the rules, but it is a list of the basic rules and concepts of soccer.

The 'U' in U6, U7, U8, etc. stands for 'Under'. Please refer to the date ranges for the different age groups listed on the registration page. The date ranges change every August and remain the same for the fall and spring seasons.  FYS allows players to play in the in-town programs based on what grade they are in in school.

Fishermen Youth Soccer does an in-town program for U6, U7, U8, U10 and U12s. U6 players generally play games that develop the basic skills of soccer and will play a regular game of soccer for the final 10 minutes of each session.  In U7 and U8, the games are played 5 versus 5 with a goalie. The U10s play 7 versus 7 with a goalie on a 'short sided field' (same rules as U10).  The U12s play 8v8 on a U12 sized field.

There are different size soccer balls for the different age groups. U6 uses a size 3 soccer ball.  U7 through U12 use a size 4 soccer ball and U14 and above use a size 5 soccer ball.

Travel teams start at U12 and older and the teams play in the Essex County Youth Soccer league. Half the games are played at the home field and half are away games. The away games can be anywhere in Essex County. The U10s play 7 versus 7 with a goalie on a short sided field. U12s play 8 versus 8 on a mid sized field.  U14 and above play 11 versus 11 with a goalie on a full sided field.

The soccer ball is played primarily with the feet. The inside and outside of the foot is typically used for passing or dribbling. The ball can be dribbled or shot with the 'shoe laces' part of the shoe. Players should learn to dribble and shoot with both feet. The ball can also be controlled by the knee, head (header) or chest.

When the ball comes to a player, they 'trap' it if they can stop the ball with their foot and keep the ball close to them so they can control it.

While the ball is in play on the field, the only player that can touch the ball with their hands is the goalie. If another player touches the ball with their hands (and this extends up the arms), the referee will blow the whistle, call a 'hand ball' and award the ball to the other team as a free kick. A player that is on the ground cannot kick or touch the ball. If they do, the ref awards the ball to the opponents. If a player kicks their foot near head high and another player is close by, the ref may call a dangerous play and award the ball to the opponent.

The goalie must have a different colored shirt than his/her teammates and the opposing team. This is so everyone knows who the goalie is.

For the ball to be called out of bounds, the ball must be 100% over the line. For a goal to be scored, the ball must be 100% over the goal line. If the ball is on the line, it is not 100% over, so would not be out of bounds or a goal.


To start the game, the team with the ball must kick the ball across the center line. The 1st player that kicks the ball to begin play cannot touch the ball again until another player touches the ball.

Players cannot push an opponent with their hands or elbows, but if the opponent has the ball, they can push with their shoulders. Players cannot grab, pull on the shirt of or trip an opponent. Sometimes an opponent may trip when the ball is stolen from them. As long as the player touches the ball first, it is not a trip. A player that is not controlling the ball cannot intentionally block a opponent from getting to the ball (obstruction). Slide tackles to steal the ball are allowed, provided they do not do this from behind the player with the ball. If the player doing the slide tackle misses the ball and trips the opponent, it is a penalty.

If there is a penalty called on a player, the opposing team gets a free kick at the point of the penalty. Penalty kicks can be direct kicks (OK to kick it directly into the goal) or an indirect kick (the ball must touch another player, other than the kicker, before it goes into the goal). Players on the defense of a free kick must be at least 10 yards from the kicker. The player that kicks the ball first after a penalty cannot touch the ball again until another player touches the ball. In the U12 and older groups, a penalty called on a defender in the goal zone results in a penalty kick (also known as a PK). This is a direct kick with no one in the goal area except the kicker and the goalie.

Off sides is a penalty also. Off sides means that an attacker is between the last defensive player and the goalie and the ball is upfield of the attacker. Off sides is determined when the ball is kicked. For U10, offside is from the 14 yard line to the goal line. For the U12 and above, offside is between the center line and the goal line. For this penalty lick, the ball is placed where the player was called offsides.

If the ball goes out of bounds on the side lines, the ball in put back into play using a 'throw in'. This involves the player raising the ball behind their head with both hands on the ball and bringing it forward, throwing it onto the field of play while both of their feet remain on the ground. If these rules are not followed, the ref will award the ball to the opponent for a throw in. U7, U8 and U10s get a second chance at a throw in.

If the ball goes out of bounds on an end line, there are 2 possible ways to restart play. If the ball is out on the attacking team, then a 'goal kick' is called. The ball is placed on the top line of the smaller goal box and kicked back into play. The goalie or a team mate can kick the ball back into play. The ball must go past the 18 yard line (marked with a line on the field) or, on a full sided field, out of the larger goal box, before it can be touched. If it is touched before it goes over the 18 yard line, it is replayed (the U7 and U8 rules allow a team mate to touch the ball before it goes over the 18 yard line). If the ball goes out of play on a defender, then a corner kick puts it back into play. The ball is placed in the corner, and an attacker kicks it into play. Once in play, it is anyone's ball. The ball can be kicked into the goal on a corner kick.

Positions on the field:

Goalie (or 'goal tender' or 'keeper') plays in the goal and her/his job is to stop the ball from going into the goal. They can use their hands to help stop the ball. There is a larger goal box within which they can use their hands. If they go outside of the goal box, they cannot use their hands. If they do use their hands outside of the goal box, the ref will award the ball to the opponents (a hand ball penalty). If the goalie pickes up the ball, they have 6 seconds to put it back into play by either kicking it or throwing it.

Defense (also referred to as a defender, fullback, sweeper or a stopper): There can be 2 to 4 defenders in the U9 and up. The center defender is called the sweeper, and they are the last defense before the goalie. There may also be a left and a right defender. There job is to stay between the opponent with the ball and the goal. They also try to block any shot from going towards the goal. The stopper plays between the defense and the midfielders.

Midfield (also referred to as a halfback): The midfielders try to control the ball in the middle of the field. They need to help out on defense and help get the ball up to the forwards. The midfielders cover the most ground and can be called on to come back for defense or to attack the opponents goal and try to score.

Offense (also referred to as a wing, forward or a striker): The offense's job is to score goals.