Ultimate Guide to Coaching Youth Soccer

Youth Soccer Rules

As the coach of a youth soccer team, you'll need a strong understanding of the rules and regulations of soccer. This includes both rules related to the game itself and to the setup of the games. Rules will differ among age groups, so it's important to keep up to date on the regulations that apply to your team.

The biggest differences between the age groups is the size of the ball in use, length of the games and number of players on the field. These modifications help ensure smooth games and the safety of players.

Players from ages 15 to 19 will play two 45-minute halves with a ball that has a circumference of 27 to 28 inches (68 to 72 cm), and 13- and 14-year-olds use the same ball in 35-minute halves. Players younger than 12 years old use 23- or 25-inch (58 to 63 cm) balls, and the games comprise 25- to 30-minute halves or 4- to 12-minute quarters, depending on the age group. The Youth Soccer Association also recommends fewer players on the field than the typical 11 for children age 12 and younger [source: US Youth Soccer Association].

The specific rules of the game are numerous, so it would be difficult to list them all here. However, there's one document you can use as a reference to keep yourself up to speed: FIFA's Laws of the Game. This extensive manual covers everything from rules on substitutions to penalty kicks to offside rulings. Updated every year, this source includes everything the referee will call. Therefore, it's one of the first things you should familiarize yourself with this so you can pass on the rules to your team [source: FIFA]. This isn't just a great reference for first-time coaches -- it's also handy for experienced coaches who need a refresher.

Once you have the rules down, you'll need to start off with the basic skills, so keep reading to learn how to teach these to your players.