division Guidelines

Please review division-specific guidelines below:

U5 and U6

Pre-K and Kindergarten

U7 and U8

1st and 2nd Grade

U9 and U10

3rd and 4th Grade

U12

5th and 6th Grade

U14

7th and 8th Grade

U19

All High School Grades

Game Guidelines FAQ

Please read below answers to frequently asked questions about the AYSO 300 Core program’s match play and Division Guidelines.

Whether you’re a coach, referee, or spectator, the league asks that all AYSO members and guests commit to, demonstrate, and promote AYSO’s Six Philsophies of Balanced Teams, Everyone Plays®, Good Sportsmanship, Open Registration, Player Development, and Positive Coaching:

What can and should be done about potential "Blowouts"?

As much as AYSO tries to build Balanced Teams, uneven matches and teams will happen for a host of reasons.  That said, neither team benefits from a blowout and we all should want players to have a positive soccer experience.  Winning and losing is part of sport, but we want to minimize the occurrence of blowouts.

In addition to trying to build Balanced Teams and balanced schedules to avoid blowouts, the league also relies on volunteer coaches and referees to do their best to 1) work together to 2) manage potential blowouts.

Here are some ways coaches for both teams involved can try their best to manage a potential blowout game so the game experience remains fun and competitive for all players:

  • Coaches should communicate with each other and the referee as soon as the game begins to get “out of hand”.
  • Consider balancing both teams at half-time by sharing or exchanging certain players.  In many cases, this will be the only way to truly improve the competition in a “one-sided” match.
  • Stress more passing, assists, or attacking “rules” such as 3 passes before a shot, as example.
  • Everyone Plays is a mandate that every player plays at least half of every match.  In the spirit of this Philosophy, coaches should never play their strongest players the entire game.
  • Assign your strongest attacking players to goalkeeper or defensive positions.
What's the Build-Out line?

The build-out line is a physical line painted across the field from sideline to sideline on U7, U8, U9 and U10 fields.

There is a build-out line on each half of each field and the line is placed equidistant between the penalty area line and the halfway or center line.

The build-out line is a US Soccer “player development initiative” which promotes and allows for a team to play the ball up and out from “the back” in a pressure-free or less pressured zone at goal kick restarts and when goalkeepers have possession of the ball.

The defending team (the team without the ball) should immediately run behind the build-out line once a goal kick has been called or once the goal keeper has their hands on the ball (takes possession).

No player of the defending team may cross the build-out line until the ball has been put back into play.

The attacking team does not have to wait until defenders are all behind the build-out line, it may put the ball back into play at any time.

At U9/U10, an attacker cannot be penalized for offside in the zone between the halfway line and the build-out line, only in the zone between the build-out line and the end line (goal line.)  There is no offside called in U7/U8.

What is the Concussion Policy?

All coaches and referees are required to complete the online CDC Concussion training at eTrainU

There is no intentional “heading” of the ball in divisions below U14.  An intentional heading at U12 divisions and below should result in a whistle and indirect free kick for the non-offending team.

If during either practice or a game a player concussion is suspected:

  • The player is done for the day.
  • The player must have a signed release form in order to return to game or practice
  • An injury/incident report shall be filled out and sent to the Safety Director and to AYSO.  This report can be found at our Safety page.
  • If there’s question as to whether the player experienced a concussion: if in doubt, sit them out
  • No parent, coach, or referee can overrule the sitting-out policy if a concussion is suspected.
  • For any questions about either the heading rule or the concussion policy please refer to our Safety page.
What does Everyone Plays® actually mean for U5-U8 divisions?

Each player must play at least 50% of every game. Teams in these divisions play with quarter breaks so that substitutions can easily be made at the conclusion of each quarter.  What else does this mean:

  • No player should sit-out consecutive quarters unless there’s an injury, tantrum, etc.
  • No player should play a third quarter until all players have played two quarters.
  • The ONLY exceptions to this rule are if a player misses some of the game or player injury or player is emotionally distraught.
  • The same player shouldn’t always play at all times in all games because coaches should strive for equal playing time over the course of the season.
  • Quarter breaks should only be long enough to allow substitutions and not for snacks or lengthy lectures.
  • Quarter breaks should take about 1 minute. Half-time should last no longer than 5 minutes.
What does Everyone Plays® actually mean for U9 and older divisions?

While U9 and older divisions play two halves, coaches are still required to ensure that all players on their team play at least 50% of every game.  Also:

  • Coaches should strive for each player to have equal playing time on the field.  No player should always be on the field the entire game.
  • If coaches and the referee agree, they play four quarters instead of the two-half structure.
  • Substitutions occur only in certain dead-ball situations including at half-time. 
  • A team may substitute on their OWN throw-in, their OWN corner-kick, or anyone’s goal kick or kick-off. 
  • Any team may substitute players when their opponent does.
  • Substitutions should not be made on the field until the referee acknowledges.
  • The clock keeps running during substitutions.
What should I do if lines on the field are faded, not visible, or incorrect?

If a field is poorly or incorrectly marked, but is safe, please go ahead and play.  Let the kids play! 

But also please report conditions of the field that need correction to fields@ayso300.org and the league will do its best to ensure that the next volunteer properly paints all lines on the field.

What should be done if a parent is interrupting or disrupting the game?

All parents should let the kids play and all parents should enjoy watching their kids play.

Sadly, sometimes there can be unnecessary adult distractions or disruptions at the game which is counter to the spirit of the game and AYSO’s values.  Here are some tips on how to handle:

  • If there are actual safety hazards or concerns, these should be managed immediately with coaches and referees working together in unity to resolve.
  • If there are disagreements about rules or play, coaches and referees are asked to respectfully wait to respectfully discuss at quarter break, half-time or at the end of game.
  • Above all else, please be respectful and mindful that kids are watching, listening, and modeling after us.
  • No adult distractions, no disruptions, let the players PLAY!

Report any incidents or adult disruptions to rc@ayso300.org and/or complete an incident report from our Safety page.

Should players be assigned positions on the field?

For U5 and U6 teams, the league discourages assigning positions because in most cases it will confuse the kids.

For older divisions, the league encourages positions, but keep it simple.  More tips:

  • Coaches should be teaching the game and encouraging a love for the game as much as possible. But the game will teach itself, let the kids PLAY.
  • Coaches should want to put players in a position tactically to compete. But let’s not confuse them.
  • Coaches are encouraged to stick with a single system of play or “formation” for the season.
  • Changing the system of play repeatedly may confuse your players and is discouraged.
  • Let the kids play multiple positions season. Teaching our players the responsibilities of each position is important especially at younger divisions.
  • When a team has the ball, all players are helping on the attack regardless of “position”.
  • When a team does not have possession of the ball, all players are helping on defense regardless of “position”.
Where should adults be positioned on the field?

No coaches and no spectators should ever enter the field of play or stand behind or next to a goal during a match unless play is stopped and the referee has beckoned the coach on to the field in cases where a child may have an injury or tantrum.

The only adults permitted on the field of play during a match is a referee.

Coaches should only be coaching from a single “technical area” on a single half of a single sideline.  Coaches should not follow play from corner to corner of the field.

Please let the kids play and let the kids learn by doing. The best teacher of the game can often be the game itself.

If a person is positioned at a location on or near a goal counter to the above, coaches and referees are asked to work together in unity to respectfully ask the person to move, but doing so with as little interruption and disruption as possible to the game and kids.

Is punting allowed in every division?

Punting by the goalkeeper is only permitted beginning in the U12 division.

In U5/U6 there are no goalkeepers.  In U7/U8/U9/U10 goalkeepers should be instructed by coaches not to punt the ball.

In a match, the referee should give a warning to the goalkeeper after a punt without stopping play. Then, if there are repeated punts, referee should stop play and call an offense resulting in an indirect free kick for the non-offending team.

Starting in U12 goalkeepers may punt the ball, though intentional heading of the ball is still not allowed until U14.

What should a coach do if he or she has questions/complaints for the referee?

Coaches should save any questions for quarter breaks, half-time, or end of game and should refrain from interrupting play.  Let the kids play.

The league demands that all coaches and spectators support referees/officials and please help control the game and spectators.

Spectators should never address or question the coaches or referees.  We’re all in this together in support of our kids and them having a positive soccer experience.

Please remember that Good Sportsmanship is one of our Six Philosophies and lead by example for our kids.

What happens if it rains before or during a game?

Soccer is played in the rain, but never when there are signs of lightning or thunder.

Games will be canceled or sometimes relocated to another field if, by 7:30 AM, either:

  1. The league has been notified by a park district that their field is closed due to field conditions, OR
  2. League officials have assessed that a field is unsafe, unplayable, or the field turf would be damaged by play.

Please check our home page for any cancellation or field closure information. Any cancellation on Saturday will be updated on the website by 7:30 AM.

If the league is able to relocate a game to a playable field, parents will be contacted via email with as early notice as possible.

If after 7:30 AM, a field has not been closed and a game has not been canceled, the referees and coaches will need to judge together at the field whether weather and field conditions are safe to play, or- as example- cancel at the first sign of official severe weather warnings.

Coaches and Referees should work together in unity to immediately suspend a game at the first sign of either lightning or thunder.

For more information, please review the league’s severe weather policy at our Safety page.

Is slide-tackling permitted in Core games?

No slide-tackling is permitted in divisions U5 – U10.  Play should be stopped and player should be warned and discouraged by the referee and the player’s coaches at this age level.

At what age/divison is offside called?

The offside offence is called beginning in the U9 Division (3rd graders) and higher. Here is a simple explainer video of the offside rule. Here’s a more thorough explanation and demonstration of how the build-out (U9-U10 only) line works and how it relates to the offside violation.  Finally, here’s the offside rule written in the Laws.

What are the uniform requirements? Can a player wear jewelry? An arm cast?

Players should be in uniform with shin guards (required) completely covered by socks.

Players may not wear anything the referee deems dangerous or that might hurt them or other players.

No player may wear jewelry (including piercings regardless of how covered); no casts or splints; no shoes with center toe cleat.

Knee braces may be worn if padded and judged safe. Hoods must be worn under a jersey and must be tucked into the back of the jersey.

Do AYSO Referees issue yellow card cautions or red card send-offs?

Yellow and Red cards are not shown in U10 and below divisions.

In U12 and older divisions:

  • Players receiving a Yellow Card (caution) should be immediately substituted and counseled by a coach on the sideline.
  • Players receiving a Red Card (send off) must leave the game and cannot be replaced onto the field.
  • A team with a player who has been sent off (Red Card) will play a player short for the remainder of the game.
  • A second Yellow Card in a single game will result in a Red Card send off.
  • The use of cards should be done sparingly, but sometimes is necessary in order to keep the game Safe, Fun, and Fair.

A spectator cannot be issued a card, but may be asked to leave the field area by a referee/official if they are a disruption and distraction to the game. 

If a spectator or coach is asked to leave the field area, the referee/official may suspend play until the spectator/coach leaves the field area.  The referee may end the game if the expelled adult refuses to leave.

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