U9 Rules & Guidelines (2023)

A mission of the Lake City Soccer Club is to provide a safe, positive atmosphere where girls and boys can learn the game of soccer. The Micro and Modified leagues are instructional, no score keeping or win-loss records are kept. All players should play at least 50% of the game.

Modified Soccer

U-9 teams play "Modified" or "Mod" soccer, which involves half- or three-quarter-size fields, and introduces goalkeepers. U-9 teams play 7-a-side, with rosters of up to a maximum of 12 players. Referees are introduced, though they are not much older than the players. Girls and boys play on separate teams in separate leagues. Mod teams play other LCSC teams as well as teams from other close-by soccer clubs. The emphasis in "Mod" soccer continues to be to HAVE FUN and learn to play as a team, and learn basic soccer skills. Again, no score keeping or win-loss records are kept. More soccer rules are introduced, such as corner kicks and of course, the presence of goalkeepers. U-9 leagues introduce soccer tactics and an emphasis on passing and team defense.

Our goal is to get as many young kids as possible to stay with soccer long enough to develop skills and confidence. Whatever we can do to reinforce effort - no matter how tentative - and to create an encouraging, "everybody wins" environment will be appreciated. Coaches must contain the urge to compete.


A. We will be playing 7-a-side soccer, 6 field players and a goalkeeper. Teams play one game a week. Each team must provide a parent to act as a referee, if a league referee is not available. The young referees are "rookies" and need support and understanding from the coaches and parents. Since no scores are kept, be sure to help the referees with encouragement. Games are often played against teams from other soccer clubs. Each team must bring a properly inflated #4 soccer ball, to be used as the game ball.

B. Fields are marked by cones, 25 yards wide by 40 yards long, with cones also marking the midfield point along the sidelines. The penalty area shall be marked by disks and lines 14 yards from the end lines. The goals are marked by "true" goal posts, with cross bar and nets, but smaller than regulation at 6 yards wide and 6 feet high.

C. Games are scheduled in 1 hour blocks of time. Start times will be delayed 5 minutes to wait for late arriving players. Coaches must be very firm to the team parents about arriving early to warm up prior to games to prevent injury. Games are played in halves, lasting 20-25 minutes each, depending on the actual start time. Half-time is 25 minutes after the scheduled start, no matter when the game actually starts, and lasts 5 minutes. Games end 5 minutes before the next hour or half hour. The designated "referee" keeps the official time, though this can be delegated to a parent on the sidelines.

D. Unlimited substitutions are allowed when ever the ball goes out of play, but with the acknowledgment of the referee. Just call out "Substitution" or "Ref, Substitutions" until you get the referee's attention and approval. All players shall play the same amount of time! Substitution patterns for equal time are difficult to accomplish. Make the effort to try the best you can. Players should play only part of the game as Goalkeeper (it can get boring back there). No goalkeeper should play more than one-half at goal per game. Every player on the team should play goalkeeper at least twice during the season, to see what it is like. Since goalkeeper substitutions take a lot of time (to change jerseys and gloves), they should not be made more than one time per half of play. Request a "keeper change" to the referee, so the game can be stopped for the switch. Wait for the referee acknowledgment before sending on the substitute keeper.

E. During the game, coaches may not go on the field except out of concern for an injured player. All coaches and assistants must stay on the sidelines, near the center of the field, not within 14 yards of the end line. No player, coach, or parent shall stand behind the end lines or near the goals, with this exception: during the first two games of the season, an assistant coach may stand to one side of the goal, a respectful distance from the end line, and advise the new goalkeeper on their role. Be careful to advise on what to do, such as "put the ball on the ground for a goal kick", or "good save, now you must throw it or kick it", not putting pressure on the new keeper by orchestrating their actions, like "go out and get her", "dive for it", or "Go, go get it". Coaching during the game shall be kept to a minimum. Brief reminders are particularly necessary for kids who are still learning their positions. If what you want to say can't wait and can't be condensed into a few words, you should pull the player off and explain your point on the sidelines.

Negative criticism or anger toward a player or the referee is ALWAYS inappropriate to kids of this age and will not be tolerated in this league. The referees, some as young as 11 years old, have just completed the referee course, and are having their first early experiences in dealing with the complex responsibilities involved with refereeing. We need them to keep refereeing, and this is where they learn. Show them the proper level of respect, and deal with their errors with clarification at half time or after the game. Coaches must control their team parents and eliminate any derogatory and harassing comments toward the referee. Keep in mind that kids who chose to take the refereeing course are by and large conscientious and responsible people who are doing their best.

U-9 Game Rules:

Beginningin the 2016/17 season, the following rules are of particular note:

  • The Build Out Line (center field line) will be used forgoal kicks & when the goalkeeper handles the ball. ie: the defending team must retreat to the center field line (build out line)until the ball is kicked.
  • Goalkeeper cannot "punt" the ball (must roll, throw or play the ball from the ground)
  • Deliberately heading the ball is not allowed (results in an indirect free kick)
  • Ball can travel any direction when play is started/restarted from the center mark.
  1. All players must wear shin guards with sock covering the shin guards. Check to see that each players shoe laces are tied. Players must wear the same style uniform jersey as the rest of the team, except the goalkeeper, who must were colors significantly different from both teams.
  2. The game begins with a kick-off from center field. The kicking team must start with all its players on its half of the field. The other team must start with all its players on its half of the field. All free kicks, including the kick-off, required the team without the ball to be 5 yards (5 big steps) back from the ball. Center field kick-offs are also taken after a goal is scored, by the team who was scored against. Teams switch directions at half-time, and the team that did NOT kick-off at the start of the game, gets to kick-off to start the second half.
  3. Throw-ins will be taken when ever the ball is played “out of touch” across the sidelines. The ball is out when the whole ball is past the whole “line”, it doesn’t matter where the players feet are. Throw-ins shall be taken by the team who did NOT put the ball out of touch. The player must throw the ball from behind their head, with two hands giving equal effort, and with both feet on the ground. Referees will be lenient on throw-ins, and an improper throw-in will result in a take over. Even if the second throw-in is improper, play will proceed unless the referee determines an unfair advantage has been attained. A goal can never be scored directly from a throw-in.
  4. Goal kicks are taken when an attacking team kicks the ball past the end line, missing the goal. The goal kick is taken by the defending team, from a point within 3 yards from either goal flag pole (typically 3 yards in front of either “post”). The ball is placed on the ground, like any other free kick.The kicking team’s players may be anywhere on the field during a goal kick, but the defending team must retreat to the mid-field line until the ball is kicked.Neither team may touch the ball until it has traveled out of the penalty area. An infraction will result in a take over goal kick.
  5. Goalkeepers may use their hands anywhere inside the penalty area, extending 10 yards out from the end line, all the way across the field. It is legal for goal keepers to use there hands on balls kicked back to them by their teammates as well. A keeper who uses their hands outside the penalty area will be called for a foul, with the other team awarded a free kick from the spot of the foul. When a keeper has touched the ball, and has at least one hand on it, no player may come near the keeper. There is no reason for aggressive attacking play near the goalkeeper in U-8 soccer.The Build out line (center field line) will be used forgoal kicks & when thegoalkeeper handles the ball. ie: the defending team must retreat to the center field line (build out line)until the ball is kicked.Goalkeeper cannot "punt" the ball (must roll, throw or play the ball from the ground)
  6. Corner kicks shall be awarded the attacking team when the defending team kicks the ball over their own end line. The corner kick must be taken 1 yard from the corner cone marker, and is considered an indirect free kick, requiring another player to touch the ball before a goal can be scored. Defenders must be 5 yards back from the corner kick.
  7. There will be no “direct” free kicks in U-9 Mod soccer. All kicks will be considered “indirect”. Therefore, a goal can never be scored from a free kick, including kick-offs, corner kicks, and goal kicks. Defenders must be 5 yards back from the free kick.
  8. There will be no “penalty” kicks in U-9 Mod soccer. A hand ball or other infraction occurring near the goal by the defending team will result in a free kick taken 10 yards in front of the goal, just outside the penalty area. The free kick must be played by another player before a goal can be made. The defenders must be 5 yards back from the free kick.
  9. Dangerous play has not been a big problem in U-9 Mod soccer, but players knocking over other players will not be allowed. Rough players will be cautioned by the referee to play “easier”. If the rough play continues, a foul shall be called, and a free kick awarded. No slide tackles will be allowed in Mod soccer. Again, the referee will caution a player for the first offense, and a foul called thereafter, awarding a free kick. Also, when a player is down on the ground, attempting to play the ball they are making a dangerous play. Play shall be stopped immediately, prior to any contact if possible, and the other team awarded a free kick. The coach should substitute for any player who repeatedly makes dangerous plays and explain to the player that they may not play that rough, that they must use more finesse to move around players, that they will become better soccer players, and their victims will be more likely to stay with soccer longer.
  10. Head balls are not allowed in U-9 Mod soccer. A deliberate heading of the ball will result in a free kick awarded to the other team. If a header occurs within the goal box, the ball will be moved out to the line. To avoid accidental headers, 'punting' of the ball by the goalie is not allowed. The ball must be thrown out of the box or set down and kicked.
  11. “Offsides” when flagrant, will be called in U-9 soccer. Players who hang around the opponents goal (cherry picking) will be warned by the referee and required to move back into the action. At the referee’s discretion, offsides will be called, and the opposing team will be awarded a free kick from the point of the infraction.
  12. A goal is scored when the whole ball goes over the whole goal line, between the flag poles. The ball must not be higher than the poles, in the judgment of the referee. If the shot hits the pole, a goal is allowed if the ball continues between the poles.
  13. In general, the games will not be over-officiated. We want the kids to play, to let the game of soccer be the teacher, and gradually providing exposure to the rules. We do not want to slow things down while we give the players an overnight course in the details of the game. As the season progresses, the basics should penetrate, and vast improvements should be achieved.
  14. When the game is over, we expect a cheer for the other team and a post-game handshaking. This is a fun post-game ritual for the kids and provides a chance to get any snacks ready. Coaches must be careful to ensure the handshaking is not filled with “you lost”, “we beat you” words, or spitting on the hands, which can kill the joy of the game for many players. This kind of youthful thoughtlessness can be controlled simply by the coach reminding the players what to say and why, and by accompanying them through the line. There will be plenty of time for the jubilance and sorrow of competitive soccer, starting in U-10. Let’s not be over zealous now. Coaches should also shake hands with each other and the referee. Take this opportunity to congratulate them if they have done well, or provide positive feedback on errors you noticed. Players should be taught that all trash and gear is to be picked up by the team. Yes, even if it was there when the game started. We are always teaching good citizenship and stewardship to the players.


Practices are usually held once or twice a week at a time and location selected by the coach. Practices should be kept to about an hour. Try to avoid having the kids stand in lines during practice. If each player brings a ball, then there are many drills available where they can be doing something, and not getting bored standing in lines and making trouble.

Good luck and be sure to have FUN!

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