U8 Match Rules & Guidelines


  • Uniform: Team color shirt

  • Socks: Worn OVER shin guards

  • Cleats: Tied tightly in double knots to prevent unties

  • Water Bottle: Full of water


    • Goalies will wear a provided pinnie of a different color of the opposing team

Players should arrive ready to play.

Game Play

  • Size 3 Ball

  • The U8 game is broken down into two—20 minute—halves. Teams will only change ends at halftime.

  • There are 5 (or 6 depending on overall team sizes) players plus a goalie on each side.

  • Prior to the game the referee will call the team over to check their shin guards and cleats. The referee will then call for captains who will call a coin toss to determine possession preferences or side preferences.

  • The game starts with a kickoff in the center of the field. Team with possession does not have to kick it forward. Opposing team must stay out of the center circle until the ball is kicked. If no center circle, then opposing team must be 12 yards from ball.

  • Out of Bounds

    • SIDE: The team that did not kick the ball out re-enters the ball with a throw-in which must be 2-handed, go straight back over the player's head while their feet remain on the ground until the ball is released. U8 Players are allowed to retake throw-ins. If need be, the referee along with the coach should explain the proper method for a throw in.

    • END: When the defensive team kicks the ball out of their own end, the offensive team re-enters the ball with a corner kick kicked from one of the corners (where the flag is - if present). If the offensive team kicks it out the opposition's end, the defensive team re-enters the ball with a goal kick that is placed halfway between the goal line and the penalty area line. Either a defender or a goalie may take the kick. Opposing team must have all players behind half field to provide opportunity for Offensive team to put ball in play with no pressure.

  • After the goalie has made a save, she/he may re-enter the ball by either throwing the ball or putting it to their feet. NO PUNTING or DROP KICKING. Opposing team players need to withdraw from box however do not have to retreat to half field. (This is done only on goal kicks)

  • Free Kicks - All penalties (hand ball, push, trip, etc.) result in a free indirect kick (must touch another player before entering the goal to be counted as a goal). Even if the infraction occurs inside the PK area - the ball is placed on top of box and must be touched by another player before goal can be scored. There are no direct penalty kicks. Opposing players must stay back 8 yards when an indirect kick is awarded.

  • When a goal is scored, the game is re-started with a kick off by the non-scoring team from the center of the field in the same process as the starting kick-off.

  • At half time ball possession changes teams and teams change sides of the field.

  • Substitutions may be made on either team's throw-in, goal kick or any re-start kick off (half time or after a goal). Referee must be told if a goalie is being changed. Play is stopped at the direction of the referee until the player(s) are exchanged.

  • Throw ins - U8 players are always allowed a second throw in if they violate on the first one. The There are NO direct free kicks in U8 soccer. This includes penalty kicks. All penalties (hand ball, push, trip, etc.) result in a free indirect kick (must touch another player before entering the goal to be counted as a goal). If the infraction occurred within the penalty area, the ball should be brought back to the line and an indirect free kick awarded. There are no direct penalty kicks. Remember, many of the kids and perhaps even the coaches will not know the difference in kicks. Opposing players must stay back 8 yards when an indirect kick is awarded.

  • Slide Tackling is NOT allowed in U8 soccer. Keep players on their feet.

  • In the case of an injury the player sits, the referee pauses the game and then the coach may enter the field. Each team may sub one player on an injury. The ball is restarted with a drop-ball where the referee drops the ball between two opposing players who then may kick the ball only after it has landed on the ground.

  • Safety is the number one concern when dealing with this age group. Referees should not be afraid to stop play at anytime if they see a dangerous situation developing. Referees are to be teachers too and instruct players why a call was made. Remember, this is the first game experience for these kids. If inappropriate, aggressive behavior is exhibited; the referee should speak with the individual involved. If this does not solve the problem, the referee should speak with the coach.

Prohibited at This Level

  • NO Heading

  • NO Sliding at anytime

  • NO Off-sides

Permitted Items

  • Metal or plastic hair clips

Prohibited Items

  • Jewelry (earrings, necklaces, bracelets, etc.)


Spectators should be seated on opposite side of field from team. On the fields behind the school, spectators should be seated at each end of the field, while the players and coach take the side in between the two fields. On the field in the far corner, teams should set up along tree line while spectators take the fair side of the field. Spectators should refrain from sitting directly behind the goals.