Help for New Coaches

U-5/ U-6 Rules for the Beginning Coach and Spectator 


This age group should focus on each individual players PERSONAL BALL SKILLS.  (Dribbling, Shooting, Trapping & Defensive Tackling of the ball) .

It is about how to perform the skill (technique) not how to win the game.  You as a youth coach are responsible for the child’s formative skill set which will insure future success and a love for the game;  please remember that.

Parents & should praise good technique of players from both teams… remember this is about development of our children’s soccer skills, not World Cup.  Aggressive behavior of coaches &/or parents will result in the parents being asked to leave the fields.  Coaches should stress this rule to their parents, and expect it as a standard as well as exemplify it by giving positive feedback at the game…. Your reputation is not on the line over the outcome of a u-5/u-6 soccer game.  LET THE KIDS PLAY AND ALWAYS HAVE FUN!!!!

The following is a SIMPLIFIED (plain language) version of US Youth Soccer’s Official Rules for U-6 Play which is an amended version of FIFA world wide rules for the adult game.  They were specifically simplified and re-designed for Small Sided Developmental Soccer.   In other words, US Soccer follows FIFA except where amended specifically to simplify the game for young children.  (you can find the US Youth Soccer Official Rules for   Small Sided Soccer @  

One final note:   If you follow the above link just to satisfy your official curiosity,  be aware, the US Soccer Rules  for U-6 small sided games frequently refer back to FIFA rule book and are vague and confusing if you do not know the laws of the bigger game.  I have printed these laws below, and then either given further explanations or exceptions in italics to make the laws of  the U-6 game easier to follow.    Happy learning!

For more information about what to teach each progressive age group as far as technical skills, please check out our player development guide. 

Law 1 – The Field of Play:

Dimensions: The field of play must be rectangular.

The length of the touchline (sideline) must be greater than the length of the goal line.

Length: minimum 20 yards maximum 30 yards

Width: minimum 15 yards maximum 25 yards

Field Markings: Distinctive lines not more than (5) inches wide. The field of play is divided into two halves by a halfway line. The center mark is indicated at the midpoint of the halfway line. A circle with a radius of four (4) yards is marked around it.

The Goal Area: None. (No goal area lines or penalty area lines on the U-6 field)

Goals are set centered in the middle point of each goal line(The goals used by our club are 4 foot tall and 6 foot wide and fall within the broad recommendations of FIFA and US Soccer for this age group)

Law 2 – The Ball: Size three (3).

Law 3 – The Number of Players & Substitutions: A match is played by two teams, each consisting of not more than three players on the field per team at any time.

Goalkeepers: There are NO goalkeepers. (And for that matter no designated “goalie guards” to stay camped in front of the goal… get all of them up into the play where the action is!)

Substitutions:  Are permitted at any stoppage of play (out of bounds or after a score)  and an unlimited number of substitutions per player,  per game.

Playing time:   Each player SHALL play a minimum of 50% of the total playing time.  (This is not a suggestion, it is a law for this age group).

Law 4 – The Players Equipment: Conform to FIFA. (Cleats or running shoes without a center toe cleat (no baseball/football cleats),  shin guards must be worn, and must be covered by /underneath socks;  no- jewelry or items which may cut or get snagged on another player; jerseys must be tucked inside shorts;  Non-uniform clothing is allowed based on weather conditions, but uniforms must still distinguish teams. (i.e. put the hoodie or compression shirt under the jersey)


Law 5 – The Referee: An OFFICIAL  ( A Game Manager or Coordinator or Parent or Coach or Grade 9 referee) may be used. ( At times there may not be enough referees to cover these games.  A parent calling just the ball out of play instances such as a goal kick or corner kick and keeping time will suffice….. let them play & have fun)

Whomever calls the game, remember to teach…..

All infringements shall be briefly explained to the offending player.


Law 6 – The Assistant Referees: None.

Law 7 – The Duration of the Match: The match shall be divided into four (4) equal, (8) minute quarters.

There shall be two (1) minute breaks between quarters one and two and another (1) minute break between quarters three and four. There shall be a half-time interval of five (5) minutes.

Law 8 – The Start and Restart of Play: Conform to FIFA, with the exception of the opponents of the team taking the kick-off are at least four (4) yards from the ball until it is kicked into play.

 (This basically means defenders stay outside the center circle, which, according to rule 1 has a 4-yard radius)   

Also, the first touch of a kick-off must travel forward, but does not necessarily have to leave the circle on first contact before the defense can pursue or an attacking teammate touches the ball.    Any subsequent touch after the initial kick off touch could be in any direction including backwards to a team mate behind the kicker, however, The player kicking off may not take a second touch until another player (either offensive teammate or defensive player) touches the ball.

All players may enter the circle to pursue immediately after the ball is initially touched by the person kicking off. 


Law 9 – The Ball In and Out of Play: Conform to FIFA.  (To save you having to google FIFA rules of the game, , this means:  If one team causes the ball to go out of bounds, the other team gets possession and is allowed to restart play according to one of the following:

• If the ball goes out on the touchlines (sidelines) , a THROW IN (overhead throw using both hands on the ball,  with both feet on the ground at the time of release) is used (no kick ins) to restart play

• During throw-ins, opposing players must stand at least 2 yards away

from the person performing the throw-in

• If the ball goes out across the goal line, but not into the goal, and the offense makes it go out, a goal kick is awarded to the defending team

• If the ball goes out on the goal end and the defense makes it go out, it

is a corner kick awarded to the attacking team.)

Also note:  According to FIFA, the Lines are part of the playing surface of the field, so the entire ball, (not just half) must cross the entire line, (not just the inside edge) for a ball to be considered out of play or a goal.


Law 10 – The Method of Scoring: Conform to FIFA.  (in laymans terms:)  

A ball that crosses the goal line and is in the goal (between the upright posts, and below the crossbar) , is a score and a goal is awarded to the attacking team, even if accidentally kicked in by a defending player.

Law 11 – Offside: None. This rule is not used until u-9… this means that without the offside law, attacking players may play closer to the opponents goal ( forward of)  the ball and forward of the last defending player.  i.e  you can get behind the defense before the ball does… that is not the case in U-9 & up, as the ball must be passed/on its way before a attacker can run behind the last defender. Don’t worry about the Offside rule now just play.


Law 12 – Fouls and Misconduct: Conform to FIFA with the exception that all fouls shall result in a direct free kick   (the common infringements at this age may be hand ball,  accidental shoving or tripping, etc.. If you want to learn what all the infringements are in the bigger game, google FIFA LAWS OF THE GAME and look up law 12.      A direct kick is one that does not have to be touched by another player before it enters the goal, in order to count as a goal). 

The referee/coach/parent must explain ALL infringements (all fouls or calls)  to the offending player.  Remember to teach the game.

No cards shown for misconduct.

Law 13 – Free Kicks: Conform to FIFA with the exceptions that all free kicks are direct and opponents are at least four (4) yards from the ball until it is in play. ( A free kick is how the play is restarted for an infringement/penalty, if the whistle has been blown for anything other than a goal, or expiration of time… An example would be a handball,  which would result in the ball being placed on the field where the infringement occurred, and the opposing team getting to assume possession by kicking the ball back into play.   A direct kick means that no one other than the kicker must touch the ball before it goes into the goal to be counted as a goal.  If the player taking the free kick scores, he scores.) 

Law 14 – The Penalty Kick: None.

Law 15 – The Kick-In:  Not Used… Should read The Throw-In:   a ball out of bounds across the touchline (sideline)  results in a throw in for the opposing team.  ( Note that as a club, we do not follow the kick-in rule… we use throw ins at this age as in older ages, because we see lack of this skill haunting older kids for far too long….. teach all your players how to throw in over their heads, keeping both feet on the ground.)


Law 16 – The Goal Kick: The goal kick should be taken on the goal line

anywhere across the width of the field of play at the nearest point from where the ball was retrieved. Opposing players must be four (4) yards away from the ball until it is in  play. ( A goal kick is awarded to the defending team when the attackers caused the ball to go out of bounds/ out of play across the defending teams goal line, without scoring a goal.)

Law 17 – The Corner Kick: Conform to FIFA with the exception that opponents remain at least four (4) yards from the ball until it is in play. (if the defending team kicked the ball out of bounds across their own goal line,  the attacking  team gets to kick it into play from the corner closest to the point where the ball went out of play)


The most important rule: Have fun!