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AYSO Region 71 - Woodland Hills

8U Division Guideliines

8U Guidelines for 2023

(Birth years 2016 and 2017)

Everyone Plays-Balanced Teams-Open Registration-Positive Coaching-Good Sportsmanship-Player Development

The Field: the field size for 8U games is 25-35 yards long, 15-25 yards wide.

The Markings: distinctive lines recommended. Halfway line the width of the field, marked equidistant between the goal lines.  There is no need for a goal or penalty area.

The Goals: maximum four feet high and six feet wide.

The Ball: a size 3 ball is used for 8U games.

The Players:

·         Numbers:  maximum seven (7) per team on field; No goalkeepers. Maximum on roster is ten knowing that there will be substitutions. G8U will play 6 per team on the field due to smaller rosters.  If it’s determined the other team doesn’t have sufficient players to field the appropriate amount of players we ask that coaches adjust accordingly per "Playing Short" outlined below.

·         Substitutions: Between periods, at halftime and for injuries.

·         Playing Time: Minimum of two periods per game and no player should play four periods until everyone has played three.

·         Playing Short:  In the event that one team is short of the normal number of players, the opposing team is required to reduce the number of players on the field. This is mandatory unless the coaches agree otherwise, or it is appropriate to share players to balance the teams.

·         Teams: Separate girls and boys teams should be promoted at all levels of play.

Player Equipment: 
Shoes and shin guards, covered by the socks are mandatory at all practice and game activities. Soccer shoes, tennis shoes, or similar type athletic shoes are recommended. The type and condition of cleated shoes must be inspected for safety before use.

Practices:  one 1 hour practices per week.

Duration of Game:  two 20 minute halves each broken into two 10-minute periods for substitutions. Halftime break of 5 minutes.

Age Appropriateness – Coaching Modifications:
Coaches should incorporate sportsmanship in their training sessions and should set this example during games including treating the referee teams with respect.

Age Appropriateness – Referee Modification:
AYSO certified 8U Officials or higher are required for 8U games. The 8U Official should briefly explain any infringements to the player(s) and encourage proper play and sporting behavior. Carding of players is not appropriate.  As with all games, every effort should be made to keep the game moving and free from stoppages for doubtful infractions. Referee may ask player to leave the field for dangerous, flagrant or unsportsmanlike behavior to cool down. Let them play and enjoy.  Assistant referees or club linesman are not required, but encouraged to either allow new referees practice as assistant referees and/or foster parent participation.


The Start of Play:  the game should be started with a kick-off in the middle of the field.

The Kick-off: 
A coin toss is used to determine which team gets to choose to kick off or what goal to attack to start the game.  The other team will either kick off first if the winner of the coin toss chose the goal to attack, or choose what goal to attack and then kick off to start the second half if the winner of the coin toss chooses to kick-off.  Opponents must outside the center circle if drawn or be eight yards from the center mark while kick-off is in progress.

Ball In and Out of Play:
The ball is out of play in all age group games when it completely crosses the touch line (side line) or goal line (end line), either on the ground or in the air.

Method of Scoring/No Scorekeeping:
A goal, in all age groups, is awarded when the ball completely crosses the goal line into the goal.  There is no formal scorekeeping in 8U for there are no standings.  The intention is for kids to have fun learning the game of soccer.

            IMPORTANT: consider rearranging A and B teams to balance teams if “scoring” in unbalanced.

The opposing team must be at least ten feet from the ball when free kicks are taken in 8U games. The following, if done deliberately, are the fouls most likely to occur in 8U games: kicking, tripping, pushing, holding, handling the ball and dangerous play. Officials must remember that there is no need to stop play for technical violations that do not interrupt the flow of the game. It's a players' game and not a game of how many infractions can be identified, so keep the fun going and let them play.

Misconduct should be rare in 8U games. There is no need for the public cautioning and sending off of young players (leave the red and yellow cards at home). Officials should work cooperatively with the coach when a player may need a 'time out'.

Free Kicks:
All free kicks in 8U are indirect kicks. Opponents must be at least ten feet from the ball or on the goal line between the goal posts during free kicks. Free kicks awarded to the attacking team inside the defending team’s goal area are to be taken from the nearest point on the goal area line parallel to the goal line, or no goal area is marked then ten feet from the goal line nearest the point of the infraction.

No offside.

Throw-ins are allowed again since 2018 at the 8U division level.  Opponents should be at least 2 yards from the ball.   While kick-ins and dribble-ins are also still allowed by the PDI, our region is discouraging this form of restart in favor of teaching throw-ins to be ready for play in the 10U division. Dribble-ins are further discouraged due to the nature of encouraging a “double touch” which is a restart infraction in the 10U and higher divisions.

Goal Kick:
A goal kick is awarded to the opposing team, in 8U and older, when the attacking team is last to touch the ball before it crosses the goal line but without scoring a goal. The goal kick may be taken from any point inside the goal area or from the goal line if the goal area is not marked. The opposing team must be at least 3-4 yards away from the ball when the goal kick is taken in 8U games, and may attack once the ball is kicked and clearly moves.

Corner Kick:
A corner kick is awarded to the opposing team, in 8U and older, when the defending team is last to touch the ball before it crosses the goal line but not scoring a goal.  The goal kick may be taken within one foot of the corner usually marked by a cone if a corner arc is not marked.  The opposing team must be at least 3-4 yards from the ball when the corner kick is taken in 8U games.

Hand Ball:
A hand ball infraction occurs when a player handles the ball deliberately. The 'hand' includes the entire arm up to the line level with armpit. Instinctive, self-protective reactions are not penalized at this young age. Accidental contact (ball striking hand or arm with no intent by the player) is not an offense and should not be penalized.

No Heading:
Consistent with the US Soccer mandates on heading the ball, heading is banned for all division 11U (12U and below for programs without single age divisions) and below in both practices and matches. An indirect free kick will be awarded to the opposing team if a player deliberately touches the ball with his/her head during a match (taken where the player touched the ball with his/her head).

PDF Version

Download the 8U Guidelines

8U Guidelines 2023.pdf

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