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Boys Youth Soccer: Rules for American Soccer

Updated on March 6, 2015

Youth Soccer aka "Football"

Looking for an exciting sports program for your boys to get involved in?

Have you considered youth soccer? Soccer, as it is known in America, is the sport called football in the rest of the world.

But American Football is a much more recently invented game. Soccer has been played for several hundred years, since the 19th century. Beyond youth soccer, some people continue to play through high school and college and even into adult leagues. The fast, exciting sport is a thriller both for participants and spectators. Moving the ball up and down the field using any part of your body except for your hands (except for goalkeepers and players throwing the ball in) is a real test of agility and coordination.

Where I live in the United States, boys youth soccer is not as popular as in other countries, or even as it was 20-30 years ago. Tackle football, cross-country running and many other extracurricular activities compete with soccer for kids' time. Yet, for overall fitness, and a team sports experience, its hard to beat soccer.

Getting children involved in sports is important for a number of reasons. The National Council on Youth Sports estimates about 30 million children under 18 participate in an organized sport, such as Little League and youth soccer. However, keeping kids interested in sports is a challenge.

A 2001 study from the National Alliance for Youth Sports found that 70 percent of children gave up on sports by the time they turned 13. This is primarily because it stopped being fun!

All photographs in this hub are the property of the author, Stephanie Hicks. Do not copy, use, reprint, without my express written permission

Corner kick at a soccer game
Corner kick at a soccer game | Source
Coach pep talk before soccer game
Coach pep talk before soccer game | Source

American Youth Soccer Organization

The American Youth Soccer Organization, is a national soccer organization in the United States. Its guiding principals for players, coaches and spectators include:

  • Everyone Plays┬«
  • Balanced Teams
  • Open Registration
  • Positive Coaching
  • Good Sportsmanship
  • Player Development

The program is focused on the athletes, and is organized to ensure that everyone plays and has fun. Although winning a soccer game is exciting, it is more important that all players on the team get an opportunity to play and develop soccer skills. Plus, real game experiences help young soccer players learn valuable skills that cannot be replicated in practice.

Soccer teaches coordination
Soccer teaches coordination | Source
Soccer games are even more exciting as children get into middle school and high school
Soccer games are even more exciting as children get into middle school and high school | Source
Learning to work as a team can be achieved through soccer
Learning to work as a team can be achieved through soccer | Source

United States Youth Soccer Association

US Youth Soccer, the nation's largest youth sports organization, celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2009. The Game for All Kids!® had an explosive growth in numbers from 100,000 players in 1974 to over 1 million in the early 1990s. Today, US Youth Soccer registers over 3.2 million players annually, ages 5-19 through 55 US Youth Soccer State Associations.

The website is filled with resources for parents, children, coaches, sponsors and the community. Tips and hints concerning soccer are included. Important information concerning health and safety and risk management are important considerations, as well.

For example, you might think that the risk of head injuries such as concussions are not a concern among soccer players. Yet, a blow to the head can occur from a mis-played head ball, or simply crashing into another player or even falling on the ground. Any parent or guardian of a child who plays sports should learn how to prevent head injuries and what to do when they occur.

2nd grade soccer team
2nd grade soccer team | Source

Have you or your child played youth soccer?

See results
You've got to be fast and strong to play soccer
You've got to be fast and strong to play soccer | Source
Moving the soccer ball away from opponents
Moving the soccer ball away from opponents | Source
Another great corner kick shot
Another great corner kick shot | Source

Rules of Soccer

1. Up to ten players and a goalkeeper are allowed on the field for each team. Most games will have to referees to make calls and call fouls (if necessary).

2. Youth soccer games are played in halves (not quarters) and generally last about 25-30 minutes each, with a break in-between each period. Referees keep track of the time and will blow the whistle to indicate the end of the half and the end of the game.

3. Soccer games start with a kick-off at the center line in the field. When either team scores a goal, the game is re-started with a kick-off at the center by the other team.

4. A goal is worth a single point, which is awarded when any player moves the ball across the goal line. Usually a goalkeeper is positioned to try to keep the ball out of the goal. He is the only player that is permitted to use his hands and to fall on the ball to stop it.

5. Players are not permitted to kick or push an opponent, even if it occurs by accident. If this is determined to have taken place on purpose, the player will be given a red card for misconduct; if accidental, a yellow card is given as a warning. Play restarts after a foul or misconduct by either a free kick or penalty kick.

7. If the referee allows a free kick, players on the defending team must be at least 20 feet away. The player that takes a free kick is not permitted to touch it again until another player touches it.

8. A penalty kick is called when a player fouls or touches the ball with their hands inside the penalty box. Only two players are allowed in the box: the player making the penalty kick and the defending goalkeeper.

9. When the ball goes out the side lines, the person defending the player who last touched the ball is allowed the throw in. His or her feet must remain outside the side line, and the throw is done over head back into the game.

10. The goal kick restarts play after the attacking team takes the ball over the defending team's byline. The goal kick acts as a direct free kick, so if a player would kick the ball so hard that it would reach the opposing team's goal and score, the goal would count. The goal kick must be powerful enough to pass the penalty area. So if the goalkeeper executes the goal kick and passes the ball to a teammate in his own penalty box, the goal kick is re-taken.

11. The corner kick occurs when the ball passes over the defending player's goal line, with a defender having touched the ball last. The corner kick acts as a direct free kick taken from the corner of the pitch (if the ball passes the line on the left of the goal, the corner is taken from the left corner and if it passes on the right, the corner is taken from the right corner).

Opposing players must be at least 9.15 meters away from the corner, the corner taker may score directly from the corner kick and the kicker can't play the ball a second time until its touched by another player.

When is a player called offside?
A player may be called offside when he is nearer to the other team's goal than both the ball and the second last opponent. The second last opponent usually being the last defender from the opponent team, an offside occurs when the player is closer to the opposing team's goal than that team's last defender.

Boys Youth Soccer 2011 National Championship

Ready to boot the soccer ball down field
Ready to boot the soccer ball down field | Source

Learn to Play Soccer

As much as I'd like to give you all the information right here, unfortunately its difficult to effectively teach a person how to learn to play soccer off the field.

Among various tips for beginners, however, consider the following:

1. Get a soccer ball and start getting comfortable kicking it. Try running and dribbling (small, short movements forward) with the ball. Pick a target and kick the ball toward it. You don't need to know anything about the game of soccer before you start.

2. Work on soccer kicking. There are a variety of kicks, including the instep kick and toe kicking. Variations depend on foot plant positions. Working with an experienced player and/or coach is your best bet.

3. Have fun! Today's culture seems to place much too high a premium on winning, rather than just having fun. Its not about whether you win or lose a game, but what you learn during the process. With less emphasis on results, more kids would probably stick with a sport like soccer!

Playing boys youth soccer on a team helps to build confidence, coordination, teamwork and much more!

Quick reflexes are required to score at soccer
Quick reflexes are required to score at soccer | Source
Game face during a soccer match
Game face during a soccer match | Source

Youth Soccer Skills


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    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi Tom,

      Thanks! I agree that soccer is a fun, easy-to-learn and play sport. All three of my boys love the game. Like you, I have a few baseball die-hards that may eventually move away from soccer for other activities. I've been so proud of the sports development my kids have had through boys youth soccer, and I tip my hat to tireless coaches and volunteers like you. Best, Steph

    • tom hellert profile image

      tom hellert 6 years ago from home

      Great article-

      Soccer is a great sport kids dont really need allot to play this game. Ive coached 23 house teams 4 travel teams andsit on my local soccer board- with 2 boys into soccer althoughmy oldest is a better second cello than striker and my younger son a better shortstop than striker but we shall see - the USa has too many other sports to keep kids away from soccer but-i still think we can compete with other 24/7 soccer countries...

      great hub


    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi JT,

      Excellent question! Where I live, in Oregon, the Parks and Recreation soccer program is open to all. My youngest twins have a severely autistic child in their classroom and this young man is involved in both scouts and soccer. Some select youth teams might be more restrictive, but many community programs are open to children of all abilities. Best to you, Steph

    • JT Walters profile image

      JT Walters 6 years ago from Florida

      Hi Stephhicks68,

      I would love fo rmy son to be involved with youth soccer but he has autism. Are they open to having autistic children play youth soccer?

      Great Hub I am very interested.


    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi Robie - My 3 boys play the game and I think I enjoy watching soccer more than any other sport they do! Our Saturdays are filled with games out in the lovely fall weather. :) Thanks for the comment.

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 6 years ago from Central New Jersey

      Soccer is such a wonderful game. I am so glad to see it finally catching on in America-- great hub and great photos too.