MVSC Development Laws of the Game

MVSC Formats of Play
Law 1:  Field of Play
Law 2:  Ball
Law 3:  Players
Law 4:  Player's Equipment
Law 5:  Referee
Law 6:  Assistant Referee
Law 7:  Duration of Game
Law 8:  Start of Play
Law 9:  Ball In and Out of Play
Law 10:  Scoring
Law 11:  Offside
Law 12:  Fouls & Misconduct
Law 13:  Free Kicks
Law 14:  Penalty Kicks
Law 15:  Throw-Ins
Law 16:  Goal Kicks
Law 17:  Corner Kicks
Other Modified Rules

MVSC Formats of Play
The following table is intended to summarize the rules of soccer that have been modified to a particular age group.



For more than a decade, MVSC has followed an age-specific, small-sided games model.  With our fall 2018 Dev season, we will take a step further by making small adjustments to our current programming so that we are in line with US Soccer’s mandated standards.  Formats of play across age groups will be regulated to create the best possible environment for players to learn and enjoy the game, with a gradual progression from 4 v 4 soccer in Kindergarten up to larger formats in older ages.  Please see the chart below for further details.  

Law 1:  Field of Play
Field must be rectangular and longer than it is wide. Field will be appropriate in size to age of players (see Formats).

Law 2:  Ball

  • Size 4

Law 3:  Players

  • U8 - U10 Boys:  5 v 5 (includes goalkeeper)
  • U9 - U12 Girls:  6 v 6 (includes goalkeeper)
  • U11 - U12 Boys:  8 v 8 (includes goalkeeper)

Law 4:  Players Equipment & Substitutions
All players shall wear a team jersey, shorts, shin-guards, socks and soccer cleats. Baseball cleats (with a front toe cleat) are not allowed. Shin-guards should be worn underneath socks. No jewelry (earrings, rings, bracelets, necklaces, etc.), or other equipment deemed unsafe by the referee is allowed. Goalies shall wear a jersey differing in color from either team.

Substitutions:  On the fly at any time.

Law 5:  Referee
The referee has full authority to make all decisions regarding all Laws of the Game. The referee’s decisions are final and not subject to appeal. The referee’s authority extends to the coaches and spectators.

The referee’s primary objective is ensuring the player’s safety, but s/he should permit the game to flow and not call trivial fouls, nor should s/he call fouls where stopping play for a free kick would be less beneficial to the fouled team than permitting play to continue. Especially at younger ages, a referee is encouraged to explain calls to assist players in learning.Referees, whether licensed or parent volunteers, must be trusted to use their best judgment with integrity and objectivity, to ensure the safety of the players at all times. Their calls should not be questioned by coaches, parents or players, but should be supported by all with thanks for their efforts on the field.

Law 6:  Assistant Referees
Asst. Referees (ARs or Linesmen) assist the Referee in officiating the game; calling balls out of bounds, offsides, and other fouls as necessary. ARs are generally not used at the Development games.

Law 7:  Duration of Game
See Formats of Play for durations by Division.

Time is continuous; the clock is not stopped for injuries or balls out of bounds. No “stoppage time” is added in Developmental soccer.

Law 8:  Start of Play
A coin flip (or similar random device) is used to determine which team attacks first. Play begins with a kick-off, with each team on their respective sides, and the defending team outside the center circle. A kick-off is awarded at the start of each half, or after a goal is scored.  On a kick-off, the ball may be played in any direction on the first touch, but must be played by a different player on the second touch.

Law 9:  Ball In and Out of Play
The ball is out of play when the entire ball has completely crossed over the entire line (touch or end line), either on the ground or in the air, and the referee has stopped play. The position of a player touching the ball has no impact on the ball being called out of bounds (a player may be on, or even outside the lines, when he is playing a ball). The ball is deemed in play at all other times.

Law 10:  Scoring - Determining a Winner
A goal is scored when the entire ball passes over the entire goal line, between the goalposts and under the crossbar.  A ball "on the line" is not a goal.

Blow Out Rule:  If one team is leading by 4 goals, then the coach of the leading team should take steps to avoid a needlessly lopsided score. Tactics to achieve a balanced game can include: 

  • allow the opposing coach to add one or more additional players to the field,

  • rotating more skilled players out of attacking positions,

  • require a minimum number of passes prior to taking a shot on goal.

It is incumbent on the coach of the leading team to implement such changes with good sportsmanship and discretion. 

Law 11:  Offsides
Offsides is not called for younger ages, but coaches should discourage "cherry picking."  Offsides will be called in U11/12 divisions.

Law 12:  Fouls & Misconduct
A major foul occurs when a player carelessly, recklessly, or with disproportionate force does one of the following:

  1. Kicks or attempts to kick an opponent.
  2. Trips or attempts to trip an opponent.
  3. Jumps at an opponent.
  4. Charges an opponent.
  5. Strikes or attempts to strike an opponent.
  6. Pushes an opponent.
  7. Tackles an opponent and makes contact with the player before touching the ball.
  8. Tackles from behind or in a dangerous manner
  9. Holds an opponent.
  10. Spits on an opponent.
  11. Deliberately handles the ball with any portion of his arm from fingers to shoulder (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area). For a “handling foul” to be called, there must be intent by the player to strike the ball with some portion of the arm or hand.  Generally, if contact is made “hand to ball” it is a foul. If it is “ball to hand,” no foul.  If a player protects him/herself from being hit by a hard shot, or if the ball inadvertently strikes the hand, there is no foul.

A major foul results in a direct free-kick. (See note on Free Kicks and Penalty Kicks.)

A minor foul occurs if a player:

    NO HEADING:  There is no deliberate heading allowed Development.   If a player deliberately heads the ball, an indirect free kick will be awarded to the opposing team.  If the ball hits a players head (not deliberate), play should continue.
  2. Plays in a dangerous manner.
  3. Impedes the progress of an opponent.
  4. Prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands.
  5. Charges the goalkeeper.

A goalkeeper can commit a minor foul if he:

  1. Touches the ball with his hands after releasing it into play before it is touched by another player.
  2. Touches the ball with his hands after it has been deliberately kicked to the goalkeeper by a teammate.
  3. Touches the ball with his hands after receiving the ball directly from a teammate’s throw-in.

A minor foul results in an indirect free-kick, even if the foul occurs in the defending team’s penalty box.

YELLOW CARDS & RED CARDS: The Referee may determine that certain fouls or behavior warrant a significant caution (yellow card) or ejection from the game (red card). An ejected player may not be replaced by a substitute.

COACHING INFRACTION:  A coach (or parent) may not step on the field at any time, unless invited by the referee to attend to an injured player.  The first infraction is an automatic Yellow card.  The second infraction is an automatic Red card.  In the event that a coach is ejected, and no other volunteer coach is available to continue, the game will be suspended at the discretion of the referee, and no result will be posted for the game.

Law 13:  Free Kicks
Direct free kicks:  a goal may be scored directly from the kick.

Indirect free kicks:  a goal cannot be scored until the ball is touched by a player other than the kicker.

NOTE:  In U8/U9 divisions, all fouls result in an indirect free kick.

Law 14:  Penalty Kicks
A penalty kick is awarded when a major foul is committed by a defender within his own penalty area. The kick is taken on the penalty mark (approx. 8-11 meters directly in front of the goal) with no defense except the goalie, who must remain on the goal line until the ball is kicked.

NOTE:  In U8/U9 divisions, no penalty kicks are given.

Law 15:  Throw-Ins
When the ball is played out of play over a touch line (side line), play is restarted in the following manner:

  • U8/U9:  No throw-ins.  A player on the team that didn’t touch the ball out of play can kick or dribble the ball into play from the sideline where the ball went out of bounds.
  • U10+:  Throw-ins.  Play resumes with a throw in for the team that didn’t touch the ball out of play. A legal throw-in requires the player face the field with both feet on the ground and outside the touch line, and uses both hands to throw the ball from behind and over his head. An illegal throw-in results when the player lifts one or both feet, uses only one hand to throw, or fails to bring the ball from behind and over his head. 

Law 16:  Goal Kick
When the ball is played out of bounds over the goal line by the attacking team, play is restarted with a goal kick for the defending team.

The goalkeeper taking the goal kick can pass the ball into the field from in front of his or her goal.  The player receiving the pass may be inside the penalty box.  All players from the defending team must retreat to their defensive half of the field until the ball is put into play by the goalkeeper.

Law 17:  Corner Kick
When the ball is played out of play over the goal line by the defending team, play is restarted with a corner kick for the attacking team. The ball is placed within the corner arc on the side the ball went over the goal line. Defenders must be at least 7 yards away.

Other Modified Rules

  1. Playing Time:  Each player shall play a minimum of 50% of the total playing time (unless there is an issue with attendance, attitude or behavior).
  2. Spectators:  Parents and spectators must occupy the opposite side of the field from the players – NO EXCEPTIONS. Both teams should occupy one side. Coaches are not permitted to walk past the midway line into the area occupied by the other team.
  3. Build Out Rule:  When the goalkeeper has possession of the ball in his or her hands, all players on defending team must retreat to the mid-field line until the goalkeeper releases the ball.  Goalkeepers are not allowed to punt the ball or to throw it in the air directly over the halfway line.  This rule is in place to encourage "building out" on the attack from the back.  Goalkeepers are permitted to distribute the ball quickly, prior to the defending team retreating to their defensive half, if they wish to do so.