Rules (Spring and Fall seasons)


Rule 1 – Outdoor/Field

All competitions shall be governed by the Rules as stated herein in all cases where they are applicable. All members of MDSL shall be governed by these Rules of Competition.

Rule 2 – Field of Play (Dimensions)

  1. The following specifications are applicable to all divisions administered by the MDSL.
  1. The field of play must be rectangular. The length of the touchline must be greater than the length of the goal line. 
  1. For players between U6 – U8 – the maximum length is 40 yards and the maximum width is 25 yards. Interior markings consist of four corner arcs (3 ft. radius), a center circle (6 yd. Radius), and a goal area (6 yd line drawn from sideline to sideline). In case permanent goals are not available, flags or cones may be used to mark the goals and corners. If cones are used for goals, the top of the player’s hands will determine the “imaginary” height of the crossbar. There is also a build out line that the opposing team is not allowed to enter.  

See drawing below.

  1. For players born between U-9 – U-12, the maximum length is 60 yards and the maximum width is 40 yards. Interior markings consist of four corner arcs (5 ft. radius), a center circle (10 yd. radius), and a goal area (12 yards. The penalty area is 12 yards wide and 12 yards in width. Goal dimensions are 6 x 12 for U-9 – U-10 and 6 x 18 for U-11 – U-12. 

Game Postponement

A game may be postponed at the field site if weather conditions are too hazardous for play. Extreme weather includes lightning, snow or ice on the ground. Rain is not a reason to postpone play. In case of a postponed game, the MDSL Sports Coordinator has the ability to re-schedule the game as long as it does not conflict with the remainder of the season.

Team Responsibilities

All teams are responsible for the cleanup of the fields after each game. Please do not leave garbage on the sidelines.

Game Format, Duration, and Ball Size

U6 – U7 Age Groups: 4 v 4 w/o Goalkeepers. Four 12-minute quarters with 1-minute quarter breaks and a 3-minute halftime break. A size three (3) ball will be used for games. 

U8 Age Group: 5 v 5 w/ Goalkeepers. Four 12-minute quarters with 1-minute quarter breaks and a 3-minute halftime break. A size three (3) ball will be used for games. 

U9 – U10 Age Groups: 7 v 7 w/ Goalkeepers. Two – 25 minute halves. 5-minute halftime break. A size four (4) ball will be used for games. 

U11 – U12 Age Groups: 7 v 7 w/Goalkeepers. Two – 30 minute halves. 5-minute halftime break. A size four (4) ball will be used for games. 

U13+ Age Group: 11 v 11 w/Goalkeepers. Two – 30 minute halves. 5 minute halftime break. A size five (5) ball will be used for games.

Number of Players

U6-U7 Age Groups: Teams shall have no more than 8 players on the roster. 

U8 Age Group: Teams shall have no more than 10 players on the roster. 

U9-U10 Age Groups: Teams shall have no more than 12 players on the roster. 

U11-U12 Age Groups: Teams shall have no more than 14 players on the roster. 

U13 Age Group: Teams shall have no more than 18 players on the roster.

From U6-U8 Age Groups, teams may not place a defender in front of the goal to try and prevent the opposing team from scoring. Defenders may remain in their own half of the field to teach basic positioning but defenders will not be allowed to simply remain within a few yards of the goal at all times. Players are however allowed to play within the circle in the goal box, meaning that they can take the ball out of the circle but they are not allowed to just stand in there.

Build out lines  

Build out lines will be enforced for U-6 – U-12. On goal kicks only, the opposing team must set up outside of the line. Once the ball is played and the team with the ball touches it after the first pass, then the opposing team is allowed to pressure the ball and play can continue.

Substitutions

Substitutions may be made, with the consent of the referee during any stoppage of play or for an injury.

  • Clubs are allowed to make their own decisions in terms of playing time for the players, however, we highly recommend that each player receive at least 50% of total playing time. Substitutions will be allowed in order to give an opportunity for all players to get equal playing time and to balance the games rather than to run up the score.
  • Players not on the field of play must remain two (2) yards behind the touchline and not within the distance of the goal area from the corner of the field. No players, parents, or spectators may be allowed to stand behind the goals, or on the sidelines with the coaches. They must be on the opposite side of the field. 
  • The coaches refereeing the game have the responsibility of ensuring that any player bleeding from a wound leaves the field of play. The player may only return on receiving a signal from the coach refereeing the game who is satisfied that the bleeding has stopped.

Player’s Equipment

All players shall wear shin guards. Socks must be worn up and over the shin guards.

  • A player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player (including any kind of jewelry). NO JEWELRY.
  • All players shall be in uniform to play. A minimum “official” uniform is the standard MDSL issued jersey with number, players must have all the same colored shorts, and socks.
  • Standard approved soccer shoes or gym shoes shall be worn by all players. A player may not  play in their bare feet. Shoes with toe cleats will not be permitted.
  • A player shall not wear anything that may be dangerous to other players or themselves.
  • All or any member(s) of a team may wear extra protective clothing against the cold, including gloves without dangerous, protruding or hard objects provided that:
  • The proper team uniform is worn outermost; and any hat should be without peak, bill or dangling or protruding object of any kind; and referee discretion may be used to determine if an item of protective clothing is considered to go beyond the purpose of providing a means of retaining body heat.
  • No player shall be allowed to play in any regularly scheduled practice or game with an injury or a known medical condition, which can be communal or aggravated by playing.
  • Prosthetic Devices require a physician’s permission before a player may play and it must state the player needs to wear the device in order to play. Even then, such devices must pose no danger to other players on the field. The referee’s judgment shall be the final determining factor.

Officiating

Games will be refereed by referees especially for the U-9 – U-13 Age Groups. There will be game managers for U-6 – U-8. There will be 1 referee for U-9 – U-12 and two referees for U-13.    

It shall be the duty of the coaches to encourage clean competition and good sportsmanship at all times and to enforce the rules and regulations of the league.

Coaches and parents are not allowed to talk to the referees and there will be ZERO tolerance for bad behavior towards the referees. The referees are members of the league and are an integral piece to the structure of our games. Without referees, these games will be scrimmages and would not enable the coach to strictly focus on improving his or her team(s), so please respect the referees.   

Coaching

All coaches, team managers, and assistants must comply with all Risk Management requirements. There must be an approved adult at all functions.

  1. The coach and/or the manager should send the game schedule link to the team.
  1. The coach is responsible for his own behavior as well as that of his players, parents and spectators on his/her side of the field. Remember this is just for fun.
  1. Every player must play in each game at least 50% of the playing time unless they are not able to play due to illness or injury.
  1. Coaching from the sidelines is permitted but not recommended. Coaching must be done in a civil manner and the tone of voice will be informational and encouraging, not demanding or critical.
  1. It is every coach’s obligation and duty to attend coaching meetings in order to acquire information that, in turn, may be passed on to the players.
  1. Make sure that you have a game ball properly inflated before the game starts. The home team is responsible for providing the game ball.
  1. Make sure that your players are properly equipped with the correct game attire.

In case of injuries during the game, assure that the player is properly attended to. Check his/her condition after the game and follow up with a call home in the evening. In the event an injured player requires medical attention, he/she must have a written release from the doctor before returning to practice or playing with a team. 

Field Boundaries

Coaches and players shall be on the opposite side of the field to the parents. 

Rule 3 – The Rules of Play

Start of Play

The ball will be placed at the center of the field by the referee and the game will start with one player taking a kick into the opponent’s half of the field, after a given signal by the referee. At the time of the kickoff, every player will be in his/her half of the field. Every player of the opposing team, to that of the kicker, shall be 6 yards from the center mark.

The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward. The kicker shall not play the ball a second time until it has been touched or played by another player. Punishment: For any infraction of these laws the kickoff shall be retaken.

A goal shall not be scored directly from a kickoff without the ball being touched by at least one other player on either team.

Restart of Play

After a goal has been scored, the game shall be restarted with a kickoff for the team that gave up the goal.

To start the second half, the game will be restarted with the kickoff by a player of the opposite team to that of the player who started the game.

Restarting play after temporary delay: In the case of a temporary suspension due to an injury or any unusual situation, if one team is clearly in possession of the ball, the game shall be restarted by an indirect free kick by the team in possession of the ball at the point where the ball was when play was suspended. Should there not be clear possession at the time play is suspended due to an injury or any unusual situation, there will be a drop ball at the spot where the ball was declared dead. The ball shall be deemed “in play” when the ball has touched the ground.

Ball in and out of Play

  1. The ball is out of play when it has wholly crossed the goal line or whole touchline, whether it is on the ground or in the air.
  1. The ball is out of play, when the referee has stopped the games.

Method of Scoring

A goal is scored when the whole of the ball has crossed the whole of the goal line on the ground or in the air between the goal posts (flags) and under the crossbar (height of the flags).

In the event that cones are used for markers, the height of the crossbar will be determined by the height of the player’s shoulders.

No team may score while a teammate is in his/her own 6 yard goal area.

Offside Rule

The offside rule will not apply to U-6 – U-12 teams however the intent of the rule will be followed. Positioning a player in front of the opponent’s goal irrespective of the location of the ball on the field is contrary to the aims of the league. The referee shall take appropriate action to prevent this kind of play (an indirect kick to the offended team and instructional statements to the violating players and coach).

Fouls and Misconduct

Free Kicks: Free kicks shall be classified under two (2) headings:

“Direct”, from which a goal can be scored by a direct kick against the offending side and “Indirect”, from which a goal cannot be scored unless the ball has been played or touched by a player other than the kicker before passing through the goal. The opponent must be 6-8 yards away before the ball is kicked depending upon field dimensions.

Penalty kicks will be awarded for U-9 and up and be taken at the spot. 

Play should stop when a player acts in a careless, reckless, or dangerous manner. The incident should be explained and then play is restarted with an INDIRECT FREE KICK for the opposing team.

Kick-ins

When the whole of the ball passes over the whole touch line, either on the ground or in the air, it shall be put back into play by a throw-in. The throw shall be taken from the point where it crossed the line, by a player of the opposing team.

The thrower must face the field of play and must keep both feet on the ground while releasing the ball. He/she shall use both hands on both sides of the ball to deliver the ball from behind and over his/her head.

Several kick-ins may be allowed if an incorrect kick occurs. Before the re-throw, the referee will instruct the thrower on proper technique and then proceed with the re-throw.

The kicker may not play the ball until another player has touched it. If the kicker/thrower plays the ball a second time before another player has touched it, the above re-throw rules will apply.

A goal shall not be scored directly from the kick-in.

Goal Kicks

When the whole of the ball passes over the whole of the goal line,     excluding the portion between the goal posts and under the crossbar (either in the air or on the ground), having last been played by one of the players on the attacking team, it shall be kicked directly into play by a goal kick. Defending players can’t stand on the edge of the box. 

A goal kick may be taken from anywhere inside the goal area.

Any defending player may take the goal kick.

The kicker shall not play the ball a second time until it has been touched or played by another player.

The ball is in play when it crosses outside the goal area.

The opposing team must be 6 yards away before the ball is kicked.

Corner Kicks

When the whole of the ball passes over the whole of the goal line excluding that portion between the goal posts and under the crossbar, (either in the air or on the ground), having last been played by one of the defending team, a player of the attacking team shall have a corner kick.

The ball shall be placed within a three (3) foot arc from the corner flag or cone and shall be kicked into play from that position by an attacking player.

A goal may be scored directly from a corner kick.

Players from the opposing team to the kicker shall not approach within the distance of the center circle measurement (6 yards) of the ball until it is in play.

If the player who takes the kick plays the ball a second time before it has been touched by another player, the referee shall explain to the kicker the proper procedure of a corner kick. Then the referee shall award an indirect kick to the opposite team from a spot where the infringement occurred. For any other infringement the kick shall be retaken.

Miscellaneous Rules

Good judgment, sportsmanship and fair play should govern the decisions and actions of all the coaches, referees and spectators.

Coaches, their assistants or spectators are not allowed on the field of play during the game unless permission is given by the referee (in case of emergencies or unusual situations).

Public scores will be recorded for U-9 and up.

Heading is not allowed for kids ages 11 and under.

Slide tackling is not allowed for kids ages 8 and under.

Rule 4 – Carding

Teams will be required to card its players prior to the season if the club is registered with the Maryland State Youth Soccer Association (MSYSA) or Virginia State Youth Soccer Association (VSYSA). If the team is not an affiliate of either association, then they must register through the league in GotSport. Instructions will be sent upon registering.

In addition to carding, teams must provide a game day roster with player date of birth and photos. Each team must provide 2 copies of rosters, one that must be handed to the referee and the other to the opposing team. This is to make sure that all players are of age to play in the game.