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U12 Competitive

US Youth Soccer Official Under 12 Playing Rules, Laws & Recommendations

Law 1 -The Field of Play:
Dimensions: The field of play must be rectangular. The length of the touchline must be
greater than the length of the goal line.

Length: minimum 70 yards maximum 80 yards

Width: minimum 45 yards maximum 55 yards

Field Markings: Distinctive lines not more than (5) inches wide. The field of play is
divided into two halves by a halfway line. The center mark is indicated at the midpoint
of the halfway line. A circle with a radius of eight (8) yards is marked around it.

The Goal Area: Conform to FIFA.

The Penalty Area: A penalty area is defined at each end of the field as follows: Two lines
are drawn at right angles to the goal line, fourteen (14) yards from the inside of each
goalpost. These lines extend into the field of play for a distance of fourteen (14) yards
and are joined by a line drawn parallel with the goal line. The area bounded by these
lines and the goal line is the penalty area. Within each penalty area a penalty mark is
made ten (10) yards from the midpoint between the goalposts and equidistant to them.
An arc of a circle with a radius of eight (8) yards from each penalty mark is drawn
outside the penalty area.

Flagposts: Conform to FIFA.

The Corner Arc: Conform to FIFA.

The Field of Play dimensions are smaller to accommodate the eight-versus-eight
game and are appropriate for the movement capabilities of ten- and eleven-year-old children.
These adjusted dimensions provide more practical space allowing players to be successful.

                      Field Markings: per FIFA with the exception of the center circle, penalty area,
penalty mark and penalty arc.

                     Goals: the goal, 6 x 18 feet, is the same for the U10 and U12 age groups. By
using the same size goal for both age groups clubs will have to buy fewer goals. Any goal must
be properly anchored to the ground.

       *Safety: Goals must be anchored securely to the ground. Portable goals may only
        be used if they satisfy this requirement. 

Law 2 -The Ball: must be a size four. The smaller ball is lighter and more easily kicked,
received, headed, dribbled, caught, thrown and passed.

Law 3 -The Number of Players: The eight-a-side game includes the goalkeeper. The
smaller number of field players will provide the opportunity for the children to further develop their
physical and technical abilities. These are valuable traits for all soccer players to develop. With
fewer players on the field each child has an increased number of contacts with the ball and has
more actual playing time. Additionally the players will be required to make more decisions and
experience repeating game situations frequently. The work rate and involvement of players will be
more consistent. While learning both offense and defense, players will become well rounded and
will understand more readily the roles and importance of teammates. The smaller field dimensions
and number of players on the field of play will require more concentration on transition, which is a
vitally important tactical concept for the players to learn.

The minimum number of players to begin a match for preteen players in SSG should be one (1)
less than the number required on the field. That is for U12 the minimum will be seven (7) and for
U10 the minimum will be five (5). There should not be a minimum for U8 and U6 and clubs,
administrators, coaches and referees should be encouraged to allow players from the team with
sufficient numbers to ‘loan’ a player or two to the team that is short players and then PLAY.
The rationale for substitutions at any stoppage is to give more playing time as noted. Allowing
subs at any stoppage is on the same page as FIFA. Substitutions: At any stoppage and unlimited. 
The only thing that we need remember is that play must be stopped for all substitutions; we can
never allow on-the-fly substitution.

Law 4 -The Players Equipment: Conform to FIFA. Non-uniform clothing is allowed
based on weather conditions, but uniforms must still distinguish teams.

Law 5 -The Referee: Registered referee. 

Law 6 -The Assistant Referees: per FIFA. Use registered referees or club

Law 7 -The Duration of the Match: Conform to FIFA with the exception of the match being
divided into two (2) halves of thirty (30) minutes each. There shall be a half-time interval
of five (5) minutes. The Duration of the Match: per FIFA with the exception of the halves being 30
minutes each.

Law 8 -The Start and Restart of Play: per FIFA. The distance the defending players must
be away from the ball until it is kicked is the same as the radius of the center circle.

Law 9 -The Ball In and Out of Play: Conform to FIFA. 

Law 10 -Goal Scored: shall conform to FIFA and the sections concerning Winning Team and
Competition Rules shall conform to US Youth Soccer guidelines.

Law 11 -Offside: Conform to FIFA.

Law 12 -The rule on the goalkeeper’s distribution still allows for the ball to be punted the entire
length of the field; it just can not go directly into the opponents’ penalty area
Fouls and Misconduct: Conform to FIFA with the exception that an indirect free kick is
awarded to the opposing team at the center spot on the halfway line if a goalkeeper punts or
drop-kicks the ball in the air from his/her penalty area into the opponents penalty area.  

Law 13 -Free Kicks: per FIFA. The distance the defending players must be away from the ball until
it is kicked is the same as the radius of the center circle.

Law 14 -Conform to FIFA with the exceptions that the penalty mark is ten yards from the center of
the goal line and those players other than the kicker and defending goalkeeper are at least eight
yards from the penalty mark. The distance of eight yards conforms to the radius of the center
circle. The distance of ten yards from the center of the goalmouth for the penalty mark fits within
the reduced dimensions of the penalty area and is a reasonable distance for the kick.

Law 15 - The Throw-In: Conform to FIFA. 

Law 16 - The Goal Kick: Conform to FIFA. 

Law 17 -The Corner Kick: per FIFA. The distance the defending players must be away from the
ball until it is kicked is the same as the radius of the center circle.

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