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Skylands Soccer Club

Skylands Soccer Club

Recreation Referee Handbook





1. The referee’s appearance and equipment

            a. The referee should arrive at least 15 minutes (preferably more) before the scheduled starting time of the match.

            b. The referee arrives properly dressed. Proper dress commands respect.   Referee  jersey must be worn.

            c. The referee arrives with all the equipment necessary to carry out his/her duties. A whistle and a stop watch are the only equipment needed at this level.


2. Safety inspection of the field

            a. The essential components of the field are related to safety and fairness. These are the playing surface itself, the equipment that forms a part of the field, and the markings. One of the referee’s pre-game duties is to inspect these components.

            b. Any dangers in the equipment or the field itself, like holes or debris, must be corrected before allowing play to begin. All goals must be weighted or staked as so they can not be pulled over. 


3. Safety inspection of the ball

            a. The referee is responsible for securing a safe ball for the match. This is often done by asking each team to provide a ball and choosing the most suitable one, or by asking the home team (if one is designated) to provide a suitable ball. A suitable ball has the following characteristics.

                        i. A smooth surface with no loose, scratched, or cut panels.

                        ii. The inflation hole does not stick up.

                        iii. The ball is the proper size: size 3 for U6 and U8, size 4 for U10 and U12 and size 5 for U14/U15.

                        iv. The ball is firm, yet slightly yielding to thumb pressure.

                        v. The ball should be spherical.


4. Inspection of the players

            a. The referee inspects players to ensure that each is properly uniformed and that no one is wearing anything that is, in the opinion of the referee, dangerous to           themselves or to other players.

            b. A player’s uniform consists of a jersey or shirt, shorts, shin guards, soccer socks, and shoes.

            c. The uniform must have the following characteristics to be safe:

                        i. The socks are long socks, which must be pulled completely over the shin guards. (This implies that the shin guards must be put on under the socks;                          the shin guards may not be put on over the socks with the sock tops folded over the shin guards.)

                        ii. All players on a team should have jerseys of the same color.

                        iii. Soccer cleats must be worn. Cleats cannot have metal studs or have the additional stud at the tip of the cleat (baseball cleats.)

            d. The following equipment is permitted.

                        i. Prescription glasses are permitted. (If glasses continually fall off during  play, a retaining strap may be needed.) Non-prescription sunglasses are not permitted.

                        ii. Sweatpants and sweatshirts are permitted in cold weather. (The sweatshirt must be under the player’s shirt/jersey.)

            e. The following equipment is unsafe and not permitted.

                        i. Casts and splints are never permitted, even if padded. A player who

                        removes a cast or splint in order to meet this safety requirement must not

                        be allowed to play.

                        ii. Hats with hard bills, such as baseball caps, are not permitted. Knit caps for young players are permitted on exceptionally cold days.

                        iii. All dangerous items, including jewelry, watches, earrings, soft bracelets, etc., must be removed before a player is allowed to participate. Earrings may not be taped  if they must be removed.


5. Positioning of the spectators

            a. Spectators must be seated on the opposite side of the field than the players.

            b. Spectators must not sit behind the goal line.

            c. Spectators must sit at least 5 yards behind the side line to allow for adequate space for throw-ins.




1. When the time expires, the referee blows the whistle to end the game. A professional image is confirmed when the referee completes the post-game activities in a friendly, positive manner.


2. After blowing the final whistle, the referee collects the ball and returns it to the original provider.


3. The referee should supervise the team handshake. Players may need to be encouraged to display sporting conduct. Referees and coaches should also use this opportunity to model sporting behavior by shaking hands and offering friendly words to each other.


4. The referee should shake hands with both teams coaches and offer friendly words to them.







1. Procedure

            a. the visiting team will start with the ball.

                        i. Exception - U8 games will play 3 periods. The home team will start with the ball for the 1st and 3rd period.

            b. Each quarter or half of the game begins with a kick-off. (A kick-off is also used to  restart after each goal.)

                        i. In the first quarter or half, the visiting team starts with the ball.

                        ii. In the second quarter or half, the home team will start with the ball. The kick-off is then alternated for the remaining two quarters.

            c. Before starting each half, the referee first verifies that the correct number of players is on the field for each team.

                        i. U6 games are played with 4 players per team on the field (4v4) and no goalkeepers.

                        ii. U8 games are played with 5 players per team on the field (5v5) including goalkeepers.

                        iii. U10 games are played with 7 players per team on the field (7v7) including goalkeepers.

                        iv. U12 games are played with 9 players per team on the field (9v9) including goalkeepers.

                        v. U15 games are played with 11 players per team on the field (11v11) including goalkeepers.            

            d. Before starting the half, players must be in their own half of the field, that is, the side of the halfway line with the goal they are defending.

                        i. The non-kicking team’s players must also be outside the center circle.

            e. The ball is stationary in the center of the field.

            f. The referee signals for play to start by blowing the whistle.

            g. The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward. Just a touch is sufficient to move it.

            h. If the kick-off is not taken correctly (that is, if it moves backward), it must be retaken.

                        i. The referee starts timing the half when the kick-off is properly taken.



1. Duration of the game.

            a. U6 games are 32 minutes in length, consisting of four (4) 8 minute quarters with a 5 minute break after each quarter.

            b. U8 games are 32 minutes in length, consisting of four (4) 8 minute periods with a 5 minute break between periods.

            c. U10 games are 50 minutes in length, consisting of two (2) 25 minute halves with a 10 minute break at the half.

            d. U12 games are 60 minutes in length, consisting of two (2) 30 minute halves with a 10 minute break at the half.

            e. U15 games are 80 minutes in length, consisting of two (2)  40 minute halves with a 10 minute break at the half.


2. The players are entitled to the entire designated playing time.


3. The referee keeps the official game time.


4. Timing should begin as soon as the kick-off is properly taken.

            a. Time runs the entire game except for injuries and at the end of the quarter, period or half.

            b. Time should not be stopped when the ball goes out of play, after a goal, or for

            enforcement of the Laws.  


5. If a significant amount of playing time is lost due to time wasting, unusual delay or dealing with an injury, the referee decides how much and adds this time onto the end of the quarter, period or half in which the time was lost.






1. Play stops when the ball completely crosses the goal line or the touch line, whether on the ground or in the air.

            a. The boundary lines of the field are part of the area they define, so the field does not   end until the very outside edges of the touch lines and goal lines. Therefore the ball is not out of play until the whole of the ball has completely crossed the touch line or the goal line.

            b. The ball’s position determines whether it is in or out of play, not the player’s position.


2. Play also stops whenever the referee blows the whistle.

            a. The referee may stop the game whenever he deems it necessary to do so.

            b. Referees should not interfere with the fun of the game by stopping for doubtful or insignificant offenses.

            3. The ball is in play at all other times.




1. A goal is scored when the entire ball crosses the goal line between the goal posts and under the crossbar.


2. It does not matter which team put it there.


3. A goal may not be scored directly from certain restarts.

            a. From an indirect kick.

            b. In U8, U10 and U12 games the goalie may not kick the ball into the opposing teams penalty area.





1. The referee’s job in calling fouls is to stop play when it has become unsafe or unfair.


2. Deliberate fouling is rare in U6 games and infrequent in U8 games. When fouls occur, they are generally obvious.


3. The most common fouls in younger players’ games are:

            a. Kicking an opponent. This occurs most commonly when a player kicks at the ball and misses it, kicking an opponent instead.

            b. Tripping an opponent. This occurs most commonly when a player attempts to play the ball and misjudges the timing of his challenge, contacting the opponents’ leg(s) and causing him to fall.

            c. Pushing and holding. Young players often use their arms to restrain their opponents  in order to play the ball.

            d. Deliberately handling the ball. This occurs most commonly when a ball comes to a  player above waist level and he doesn’t have the ability or the confidence to play it with the body. (Sometimes the player will raise his arms over his head to stop a high ball.) The act of handling the ball includes any deliberate contact with the hand or arm, but does not include accidental contact. In general, when younger players commit a       deliberate handling offense, it is obvious to everyone on the field, including themselves. If the referee is in doubt about the deliberateness of the action, he should not stop play.

            e. Dangerous play. This most commonly occurs in one of two ways: (1) a player kicks at a ball above waist level in close proximity to an opponent, or (2) a player lying on the ground kicks at a ball in close proximity to a standing opponent. Contact with the opponent is not required.


4. If the referee decides to penalize a foul, the referee should stop play and explain briefly to the player what he/she did wrong.



1. Players in U11 and younger age groups may not deliberately head the ball in soccer matches.

  • If a player deliberately heads the ball and the ball remains in play, the referee will immediately stop play and restart with an indirect free kick as per Law 13.
  • If a player deliberately heads the ball and the ball immediately goes out of play, the referee will restart in accordance as to how the ball went out of play (throw-in, goal kick, corner kick)
  • If a player is inadvertently struck in the head with the ball, there is no rule infraction.  However, if the referee deems the player to be injured the referee will immediately stop play, have the player removed and restart with a drop ball.
  • In all cases the coaches will assess the player to determine if the player is injured.


  •   A goal may not be scored against an opponent by deliberately heading the ball.  
  • Denying an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity does NOT apply to heading the ball as this action is NOT a foul.
  • Referees will enforce these rules for the U11 age groups and younger.  It is the responsibility of the team’s coach/manager to ensure any player aged 10 or younger who may be “playing up” will not head the ball during practice or games.




1. The offside rule is applied to U10, U12 and U14/U15 games.


2. Player’s offside position.

            a. the player is in the opponent’s half of the field; and

            b. if the player is closer to the opponents’ goal line than the ball is (“ahead of the ball”); and

            c. the player is closer to the opponents’ goal line than either of the last two opponents   are (“ahead of the second-to-last defender”), that player is in an offside position.


2. It is not an offense to be in an offside position.


3. A player in an offside position is only penalized if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by a teammate she is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by:

            a. interfering with play (typically, touching a ball that has been touched or played by her teammate), or           

            b. interfering with an opponent (preventing the opponent from playing the ball by obstructing or distracting), or

            c. gaining an advantage by being in that position (being in the right place to collect a rebounded shot, or to capitalize on a defender’s mistake).


4. A player in an offside position who receives the ball directly from

            a. a goal kick, or

            b. a throw-in, or

            c. a corner kick

is not penalized for being in the offside position.(Offside is momentarily suspended when the ball is being returned to play after leaving the field of play.)


5. If an offside offense occurs, the referee stops play and awards an indirect free kick to the opposing team at the spot where the offside player was at the time.




1. In younger players' games it is important that, in the case of an injury or possible injury, the referee stop the game immediately. It is better to err on the side of caution, even though the injury nearly always turns out to be minor or non-existent.


2. In the event that a player (or the referee) is bleeding, that individual must leave the field immediately for treatment and may not return until bleeding is stopped and the wound is covered.

            a. Blood on clothing must be neutralized with a disinfectant or the clothing replaced.

            b. Blood on the body must be removed, and the contaminated skin disinfected.


3. If an injured player is unable to continue playing, he/she may be substituted.




1. Substitutions may occur only at the following times when play is stopped:

            a. During either teams throw-in for U6-U10, during your their own teams throw-in for U12 and U14/U15.

            b. Either team may substitute during goal kicks.

            c. Either team may substitute after a goal is scored.

            d. Either team may substitute after each quarter, period or half.

            e. For an injured player, a substitute must come in for that player and the opposing team is allowed one substitute as well.


2. The coaches should ensure that each player plays at least one half of every game.

            a. The referee is not responsible for keeping track of the amount of time that each team member plays.


3. The referee should endeavor to minimize the time lost for substitution. Stoppages for substitution are not coaching or refreshment opportunities.




1. When the allotted time and any added time has expired in each portion of the game,

the referee blows his whistle to end that portion (or game).





1. When the ball passes out of play over a touch line, play is restarted with a throw-in.

2. The throw-in is taken by the opponents of the team that last touched the ball (even if the touch was accidental). Any player on the team may take the throw-in, and the players (not the referee) decide who takes it.


3. The throw-in is taken from the approximate point on the line where the ball left the field.


4. The thrower must face the field of play, have part of each foot touching the ground either on or behind the line, and use both hands to deliver the ball from behind and over the head.

            a. In U6 and U8 games the throw-in can be retaken as many times as needed until a proper throw-in is taken.

            b. In U10 and U12 games, one additional throw-in attempt is taken for an improper throw-in. If a second improper throw-in is taken possession goes to the opposing team.


5. The ball is in play as soon as it is released and any portion of it is on or over the outside edge of the line. If the ball fails to enter the field of play, the throw-in is retaken.


6. Opposing players must be at least two yards from the point at which the throw-in is taken.


7. The player taking the throw-in may not touch the ball again until the ball touches another player. If the player taking the throw-in is the first to touch the ball a indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team.


8. A goal may not be scored directly from a throw-in. If the ball goes directly into either goal, it is treated as if it had crossed the goal line outside the goal and a goal kick will be taken.





1. A goal kick is used to restart play when the ball goes over the goal line, last touched by a member of the attacking team, and a goal is not scored.


2. Any player on the defending team can take the goal kick.


3. The ball is placed anywhere in the goal area.


4. Players on the opposing team must stand a certain distance away from the kick.

            a. In U6 and U8 games players must stand on the opposite half of the field.

            b. In U10 games players must stand behind the build out line.

            c. In U12 and U14/U15 games players must stand outside the penalty area.


5. The ball is in play upon being kicked and leaving the goal area.


6. In U12 and U14/U15 games, if the ball is kicked directly into the opponent’s goal (rare!), a goal is scored. In U6, U8 and U10 games the ball may not be kicked in to the opposing teams penalty area, therefore a goal is not possible to be scored on a goal kick.




1. A corner kick is used in a game to restart play when the ball goes over the goal line, last touched by a member of the defending team, and a goal is not scored.


2. Any player on the attacking team takes the corner kick.


3. The ball is placed anywhere in the corner arc nearest the point where the ball crossed the goal line. The corner flag must not be moved.


4. Players on the opposing team must be at least 6 yards from the ball when it is kicked.


5. The ball is in play immediately upon being kicked.


6. If the ball is kicked directly into the opponent’s goal, a goal is scored.





1. When a player commits a foul for which the referee stops play, play is restarted with a free kick taken by any player on the opposing team. It is a “free” kick because the opposing team (that is, the one that was disadvantaged by the foul) is given a clear kick of the ball without interference from the fouling team.


2. The free kick is taken from the location of the foul, but not closer than 6 yards from the opposing team’s goal.


3. The opposing players must be at least 6 yards from the ball.


4. The ball is in play when the ball is kicked. It does not have to be kicked forward.


5. If the ball is kicked directly into the opponents’ goal, a goal is scored.




1. When play is stopped by the referee for an unusual but neutral reason such as an injury, a dog on the field, or a stray ball from a nearby game, play is restarted by the referee dropping the ball.


2. The referee drops the ball where it was when play was stopped. Exception: In an U6 and U8 game if the area where the play stopped is in the goal box the referee will move the ball to outside the goal box.


3. The ball is dropped from the height of a player’s waist and is in play when it hits the ground.


4. Typically, one player from each team is near the ball when it is dropped, but having a player from each team involved is not a requirement.


5. If a player kicks the ball before it hits the ground, the ball is dropped again because play has not been restarted properly. Young children may have to be asked to step back “one giant step” so the ball may be dropped correctly.


6. Young players usually need some direction with dropped balls although the referee should not tell players where to stand and which direction to kick.




1. When a goal is scored, as described above play is restarted with a kick-off taken by the team that gave up the goal.


2. The procedure for the kick-off is as described above. The referee must wait until the players and ball are properly positioned, then blow the whistle.




1. When the goalie is in possession of the ball the players on the opposite team must stand

            a. behind the midfield line at the U8 level

            b. behind the build out line at the U10 level

Players must remain behind the line until the goalie puts the ball into play by either throwing, rolling or passing the ball to their teammate.

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