This resource pages for players and parents is not intended to give you a complete understanding of the game, but it will increase your knowledge and enjoyment of the game, both playing and watching.

Who is Involved in a Soccer Match?
What does the referee do? What do the players do? What do coaches do? What do the parents and spectators do? When can they do it?

Referee
The referee controls the game and ensures that the game is played according to the laws of soccer. Only judges what he sees. Keeps the official time and is concerned with the safety of the players. The referee’s authority extends from the moment of arrival until the moment of departure.

We encourage all parents, players and coaches to treat the referees with respect and accept the referee’s decisions. Play continues until the referee signals. A signal may be a whistle or a hand gesture. Only the coaches are allowed to communicate with the referees and if any parent has any concerns or questions, then they should address the coach and the coach can communicate to referee if necessary.

Hand signals a referee might use:

Hand Signal Meaning
Points to corner of field Corner Kick
Points to penalty spot Penalty Kick
Points to goal area Goal Kick
Points to goal line with one arm Direct Free Kick
Points to goal line with one arm, w/ the other arm pointing up Indirect Free Kick
Points to center of the field Goal/Kickoff

Players: Play the game. Have FUN, and stop if the referee signals.

Coaches: Coach the game. Have FUN, arrange for substitutions, control the spectators and provide encouragement to the players.

Parents & Spectators: Watch the game. Have FUN; encourage the players of both teams. Leave the coaching to the coaches.

Where do the Players Play and what do they do?

Offense: Sets up scoring opportunities like give-and-go or wall pass; has accurate, powerful feet for shots.

Midfield: Controls midfield; starts and supports attacks on goal.

Defense: Stays between ball and goal; controls or marks attackers; clears ball from defensive area to a more forward player.

Goal Keeper: Stops shots; helps direct the defense; starts attacks by throwing or kicking ball; sets up players for defensive walls and corner kicks.

What are the Rules of the Game?

What is legal? How should the ball be played? How are kicks awarded? What do they mean? How are they taken? What are yellow and red cards? When are cards given?

Kickoffs: Player moves ball over center line; rolls forward; second player must touch ball before first player may retouch; may then pass back to midfield for support or start attack.

In-bounds: A ball is in-bounds until it completely crosses over either the touchline (sideline) or the goal line. If any part of the ball is over any part of the line, the ball is in play.

Throw-in: Ball crosses touchline; throw-in is awarded to other team. Both feet must be touching ground, on or behind touchline. Both hands start behind the head. Throw-in is one continuous motion over the head with both hands.

Goal Kick: Ball crosses goal line, last touched by offense; ball is kicked by defending team from within goal area. Ball must exit penalty area before being touched by another player.

Corner Kick: Ball crosses goal line, last touched by defense; ball is kicked by the offensive team from inside corner marking.

Indirect Free Kick: Offsides, dangerous play, obstruction, prevents goalkeeper from releasing ball from hands, too much time by goalkeeper, goalkeeper touching ball with hands when deliberately kicked to him by a teammate or directly from a throw-in from a teammate, goalkeeper time wasting. On the kick to restart, the ball must touch another player before scoring a goal. The kick is taken at point of the violation (except if committed in goal area), and the defense must be at least 10 yards away.

Direct Free Kick: Intentionally kicks or attempts to kick, trips or attempts to trip, strikes or attempts to strike, jumps at, charges, pushes an opponent, tackles an opponent making contact with the opponent before touching the ball, holds, spits at an opponent, or handles (using any part of the arm from the shoulder to the fingertips) the ball deliberately. The kick to restart can go directly into the goal without touching another player. It is taken at the point of violation with the defense at least 10 yards away. The defense may set up a wall if the kick is within striking range of the goal but the referee does not have to hold up the game while the defense sets up the wall.

Penalty Kick: A direct free kick infraction (a foul) committed in the penalty area. The goalie is positioned on goal line; the ball on penalty spot. The goalie may not move off the goal line until the ball is kicked and all other players, except the goalie and kicker, are outside the penalty area (in 6v6 play, all players must be beyond mid-field).

Drop Ball: Restarts game, usually after an injury. The referee drops the ball between one player from each team. The ball is in play when it hits the ground.

Offside: When the ball is played by a teammate there must be the ball or two defenders even with, or nearer to, the goal than the player in question who is in the offensive half of the field. If not, the player is in an offside position. But, in addition to being in an offside position, a player must be seeking to gain an advantage or be interfering with play to be declared offside. If no interference or no advantage is gained, there is no penalty. This is a judgment call by the referee (and linesmen). Also, offside does not apply to a ball received directly from a goal kick, throw-in or corner kick.

Fouls: See indirect free kick, direct free kick, and penalty kick offenses.

Yellow Card: Caution issued for unsporting behavior, dissent (by word or action), persistent repeated infringements of the laws of the game, delay of restart, failure to respect required distance with a corner kick or free kick, entering or re-entering the field of play without permission, leaving the field of play without permission.

Red Card: Ejection from game (send-off) for serious foul play, violent conduct, spitting at an opponent or any other person, denying an opponent a goal or goal scoring opportunity by handling the ball, denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity to an opponent moving toward the goal by an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick, using offensive, insulting, or abusive language, or receiving a second caution in the same match.