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AYSO Region 697 - Oak Park and surrounding areas

Reffing Division 1 Games


Build-out Lines

As of Spring 2019, we have a new rule that applies only on GOAL KICKS in Division 1 (f.k.a. U8) and Division 2 (f.k.a. U10.)  We are using a “build-out line”.  This line will be drawn on each half of the field from sideline to sideline, halfway between the center line and the penalty area.  The purpose is to encourage teams to learn to “build out” their attack from their defensive end by being able to easily and successfully pass goal kicks directly to teammates to begin the attack without opposing players nearby.  If the line is not drawn on the field, please set out cones on each side of the field to indicate the where the lines should be for the players.  

On goal kicks, the opposing (non-kicking) team’s players must now move behind the build-out line and cannot come forward across the line until the goal kick has been taken and the ball has left the penalty area.  A violation will result in a free kick on the build-out line at the spot of the encroachment.  (If a goal kick is played by any player before it leaves the penalty area, the usually rule that it must be retaken still applies.)

However, the kicking team has the option to take the kick before all of the other team’s players have moved beyond the build-out line, in which case there would be no encroachment violation.  Refs will be encouraged to use common sense discretion to enforce this new rule in the spirit in which it is intended.

Other Division 1 rules that differ from the normal rules of soccer:

  • We do not call offside – so no ARs are used
  • No penalty kicks are awarded
  • No slide tackling allowed
  • No intentional headers allowed
  • All Free Kicks are direct (DFK)
  • Be very lenient on throw-ins
  • Be extra protective of goalkeepers
  • No misconduct cards shown ever
  • Size 3 ball
  • 6 v 6 including keeper (4 minimum)
  • 20 minute halves, running time, with one-minute substitution breaks at about 9 ½ minutes
Refs - please use your voice to help these younger players figure out what to do after the ball goes out of play or you blow your whistle.

Game Timing

All games are timed per half with RUNNING TIME from start to the end of the half.   Do not stop the clock for sub-breaks.

NOTE:  Please enforce the one-minute sub break lengths. This is NOT a "period" break for players, coaches or refs.  Remind the coaches it's one minute.  During the break, ARs stay in position; center refs: stay with the ball where the restart will take place, look at your watch and blow the whistle after 30 seconds to let the teams know they need to get moving back onto the field.  If they aren't starting to come back out by 45 seconds, blow your whistle again more loudly and, if necessary at 60 even louder while shouting “Coach(es), let’s go, clock is running.”. Hopefully you will soon have the coaches trained so we can get the ball back in play within 60 seconds!

Division 1 is 20 minute halves with one RUNNING TIME sub break (should be ONE minute) about half way through, so from about minute 9 1/2 to minute 10 1/2.


More info below in our "OPAYSO How to ref a Division 1 game" doc:

How to Ref an Oak Park AYSO Division 1 Game

[Bracketed material notes rules variances from other OPAYSO divisions.]


Keep in mind that “trifling” violations of the rules (those that are very minor and do not confer an unfair advantage) usually just unnecessarily interrupt the flow and fun of the game and therefore should generally not be called. 


However, when you do make a call, please help the players understand what you are calling and what needs to happen next.  Use your voice!


The kick-off must take place on time


So, prior to this, make sure none of the kids is wearing jewelry or metal cleats and that everyone is wearing shin guards covered by soccer socks.  Any extra clothes should be worn under jerseys, shorts and soccer socks.  Soft headgear and gloves are ok.  Look for untied shoes.  You should have on athletic shoes yourself. 


You need a whistle.  When you blow your whistle, do it nice and loud so we know you mean it!  You or the coaches choose a game ball (Size 3 balls only) that is in good condition and properly inflated.  [Ball sizes vary in each division.]  You should be able to push your thumb in about a half-inch on a properly inflated ball.  You should have a stopwatch to time the game.  (You do not need to recruit sideline refs.)  Check the field for dangerous conditions.  Make sure the goals are secure and look for holes in the nets that may fool you if a ball goes through.


Take “captains” designated by the coaches from each team to the center of the field.  Flip a coin or have them do one game of “rock-papers-scissors.”  The winner kicks off.  The teams will generally have been practicing at opposite ends of the field.  Just let them stay on those sides to start the game.  If the teams are not already on different ends of the field, have the coin-toss/RPS loser choose a side to defend for the first half.  [In other divisions, coin toss winner chooses which goal to defend first half and loser kicks off.]


Each team has a maximum of 6 players on the field at one time, minimum of 4, including the goalie.  The goalie must wear a goalie jersey or “pinnie” or other shirt of a different color than either team’s jerseys.  [U10 is 8v8; other divisions are 11v11.]  Remind the coaches that sub breaks are 60 seconds and suggest they assign someone to help swap the goalie jersey and gloves at each break.


For the kick-off, the ball is placed in the exact center of the field.  All players must start on their half of the field.  The defending players cannot be closer than 8 yards from the ball.  The center circle should have a radius of 8 yards so they can stand right behind that.  The offensive players can stand anywhere in their half, including inside the center circle.  Once the ball is in play, the center line of the field has no significance until the next kick-off.  All players can go anywhere on the field and can actually go off the field to play balls that are still in play on the field.  [Starting at U12 all required defensive distances are 10 yards.]


Blow your whistle to start play.  The kick off can go any direction.  The player who kicks off cannot touch the ball a second time until another player (either team) touches it.  (This is the “two-touch rule.”)  Blow the whistle to enforce violations (or allow a “redo”).


A goal is scored if the entire ball is over the entire white goal line between the goal posts, whether on the ground or in the air, including in the goalie’s hands.  After a goal, the other team gets a kick-off.  The referee’s signal for a goal is not to whistle but rather to point to the Center Spot since that is where the restart will take place.  Keep score in case the coaches have questions about that.


There is no offside rule.  [Offside is called in all other divisions and ARs are used.]


A ball is out of bounds only if the entire ball is over the entire white side line or end line.  If the ball goes out of bounds on a sideline, the ball goes to the team which did NOT touch it last.  Whistling is not necessary unless the players have not stopped trying to kick the ball.  Announce the jersey color of the team who gets possession and point in the direction they are attacking so everyone knows whose ball it is.


A player on that team puts the ball back into play by executing a “throw-in” from the spot on the sideline where it went out.  On a legal throw-in, a player must face the field with both feet behind (or on) the sideline line and on the ground when the throw is made.  The throw must be made with both hands on the ball from behind and over the head.  HOWEVER, DO NOT CALL ILLEGAL THROW-INS unless it is something blatant like a long one-hand baseball or bowling ball pass.  Calling trifling violations will just delay the game unnecessarily,  as do “do overs.”  But if there are many problems, at an appropriate time you can grab the ball and demonstrate the throw-in motion; or give real-time instructions like “keep both feet on the ground.”  The other team’s players should be at least 2 yards back from the ball on a throw-in.  The throwing player may not touch the ball a second time until someone on the field touches it.  [We are still somewhat lenient on throw in violations at U10 but not to the same extent and we do not use do overs.]


If the ball goes over the end line outside the goal, it is a goal kick if last touched by the offense (whistling not usually needed – just point horizontally at the goal while also announcing the call)  and a corner kick if last touched by the defense (announce that and point toward the corner with your arm raised high).  A goal kick is taken from anywhere inside the “goal area” (the smaller of the two boxes around the goal), but generally at one of the forward corners of the box.  A corner kick is taken from the quarter circle in the corner closest to where the ball went out.  Either kick, goal kick or corner kick, can be taken by any player on the kicking team.  (It is not necessary, and often not advisable, for the goalie to take a goal kick.)  The “two-touch rule” applies.  On a corner kick the other players can stand anywhere on the field (with defenders no closer than 8 yards from the corner) but should not unfairly obstruct the goalie. 


A “build-out line” will be used on goal kicks.  [The build out line is used only at U8 and U10.]  The line (a different color than the other field lines) should be drawn on each half of the field from sideline to sideline halfway between the center line and the penalty area (the larger of the two boxes around the goal).  On a goal kick, the kicking team’s players can stand anywhere, including inside the boxes.  The other team’s players must be behind the build-out line until the ball is kicked and leaves the penalty area, UNLESS the kicking team has chosen to take the kick before all the other team’s players have a chance to move beyond the build-out line, which is their option.


As in the normal rules, once the goal kick is taken, the ball is not in play for any other player (including one on the kicking team) until it completely leaves the penalty area box.  If this rule is violated, the goal kick should be redoneIn addition, absent the kicking team’s choosing to take the kick early, if any player on the opposing team moves across the build-out line before the ball leaves the penalty area, you may call a violation against the encroaching player.  The restart would be a free kick on the build-out line at the spot of the encroachment. 


Use good discretion and generally call encroachment only where it creates an unfair disadvantage to the other team’s ability to begin possession in their defensive end, which is the purpose of the line.  At the time when you call a goal kick you should remind the opposing players to get back to the build-out line (“Blue team, get behind the orange line, wait for the ball to come out of the box.”).  Help all the players learn!


The goalie can go anywhere on the field (as can any other player, subject to the restrictions referenced above) but the goalie can use their hands only on balls inside the penalty area.  Outside the penalty area they must use their feet.  A goalie should also not use their hands if a teammate intentionally (foot) passes the ball back to the goalie, but don’t bother calling this violation in U8.  [Starting in U10, an intentional foot passbacks picked up with hands by goalie results in an Indirect Free Kick (with a defensive “wall” in place) – never a PK!]


Also, officially, a ball cannot be kicked by an opponent if the goalie has “control”, which can mean they have one hand on top of a ball on the ground.  But please use your discretion and common sense to protect the goalies by calling violations if players kick toward a ball in a dangerous way around a goalie trying to play the ball (for example, near the head of the goalie who is bending down to pick up the ball). 


A free kick is awarded for other violations and fouls.  Calling these does requiring using the whistle to stop play.  See below.


Intentional heading of the ball is not allowed and is a foul.  Players may use any part of their feet and legs, and any part of their torso other than their arms and hands, to control the ball.  [Heading is not allowed until U14.]


A “hand ball” violation is one where a player intentionally “handles” the ball with any part of their arm, from their fingertips to their shoulders.  An inadvertent ball kicked into an arm is not a hand ball.  A player who is hit in the hand or arm with their arms against their body or in front of their face to protect themselves should not be called for a "hand ball".  [This would be called a handball at U14 and maybe at U12.]


Slide tackling (sliding on the ground to steal or block the ball) is not allowed.  [Legal slide tackling is allowed starting at U10.]  Some bumping and jostling is going to be expected, but using an extended arm to shove someone off the ball, intentional tripping or elbowing, grabbing jerseys, kicking players from behind, recklessly running people over and other unfair tactics should be called fouls, unless making the call would penalize the victimized team which, for instance, is about to score a goal in spite of the infraction.  In those cases, let the “advantage” go on.  Put both arms forward and say “play on” (this lets everyone know you didn’t miss the foul).  “Late” foul calls are ok if the “advantage" is quickly lost.  If a “foul” is called, award the other team a free kick. 


A free kick is awarded at the spot of the foul, except near the goal (small box) award a goal kick for an offensive player’s foul; and move the ball back at least 8 yards from the goalie box for a defensive player’s foul.  The defensive players must be 8 yards away on a free kick.  “Two touch rule” applies.  We don’t distinguish between “indirect” and “direct” free kicks.  [Starting at U10, award IFK or DFK or PK as stipulated in the Laws of the Game.]


There are no penalty kicks[PKs are awarded starting at Division 2.]


If you need to restart for any other reason (such as an injury stoppage), do a “dropped ball”, which is like a hockey face-off.  Just drop the ball between one player from each team.  Do this at a spot near where play was stopped but not too close to the goal.  They must “wait until the ball hits the ground” to kick it.  But the “two touch rule” does NOT apply on a dropped ball.


A goal may be scored directly (first touch) from a kick-off, corner kick or other free kick but not from a throw-in or dropped ball.


Help the kids understand the rules and what you are calling and why, and what needs to happen next.  For example, “Hand ball on Blue.  Green gets a free kick right here.  Blue move back a little more.”


Stop the game for injuries to make sure players are safe


The game is played in two halves of 20 minutes each, running time, with a one-minute substitution break about half way through each half.  So, after about 9 ½ minutes, stop the game to allow the coaches to make substitutions.  But don’t stop the game while a team is driving on the goal just because exactly 9 ½ minutes have elapsed.  Rather, do it during a stoppage or more neutral part of the action, as near to the 9 ½ minute mark as possible.  Use good sense.  If there is an injury stoppage at 8 minutes, that might be a good time for subs.  [Length of halves varies at each division.]


We want to train the coaches to limit the sub breaks to literally 60 seconds.  The halves are running time and we want the subs to get equal “quarters” of playing time.  (9 ½ minute 1st “quarter” plus one minute sub break plus 9 ½ minute 2nd “quarter = 20 minute half – if the sub break takes 3 minutes, the 2nd “quarter” is only 7 ½ minutes)  Remind the coaches when you call for subs that it is 60 seconds.  Start gently blowing your whistle after 30 seconds and louder after 45. 


Restart the game with a kick-off by the same team which kicked off to start the game.  This makes it easier for U8 players to find their positions.  [Starting at U10, “quarter” restarts depend on the type of stoppage that initiated the sub break.  (Throw-in, etc.)]


When 20 minutes running-time from the original opening kick-off have expired, it is half-time.  (If there was an unusually long (over 5-minute) delay because of an injury or other issue, use your common sense discretion to add time to a half.)


Half time is 5 minutes, 7 minutes if it is very hot.  Talk to the coaches if there are any issues with the rules or player misconduct.


Have the teams switch goals for the second half.  The team that was on defense at the start of the game kicks off to start the “third and fourth quarters.”  Have fun!

Why Aren't the Teams Balanced? Why do blowouts occur?

The biggest problem has to do with player ratings.  Teams are balanced based on the rating of the coach of the players at the end of last season.  And next season, it is your rating of the players this season that will be used to balance the teams.  Sometimes, players change radically from one year to the next, and there's nothing we can do about that.  What you can do, the coach, is to really focus on the player rating at the end of the year, and do your best for the next year. 

What (NOT) to do

  • Do not tell your team you want them to stop playing so hard because the score is too high.  
  • Do not tell them to stop scoring.  This is no fun for anybody.  
  • Do give them additional challenges that make it harder to score.  This keeps all the players in the game on both sides and provides an opportunity to teach additional game skills appropriate to each side.

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