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AYSO Region 71 - Woodland Hills

12U Division Guidelines

12U Guidelines for 2023

(Birth years 2012 and 2013)

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

The Field: The field size for 12U games is 70-80 yards long, 45-55 yards wide.

The Markings: distinctive lines recommended.

·         Halfway line the width of the field, marked equidistant between the goal lines.
·         Center circle with an eight-yard radius in the center of the field.
·         Corner arcs with a one-yard radius at each corner of the field.
·         Goal area in front of each goal measuring 5 x 16 yards.
·         Penalty area in front of each goal measuring 14 x 36 yards.
·         Penalty mark ten yards from the goal line.
·         Penalty arc extending in an eight-yard radius from the penalty mark.

The Goals:  recommended 6.5 feet high and 18.5 feet wide; maximum size - 7 feet high x 21 feet wide.

The Ball:  a size 4 ball is used for 12U games.

The Players:

·         Numbers: Nine per team on field; one of which is a goalkeeper. 13 maximum on roster.
·         SubstitutionsBetween 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.  A player may not play more than three quarters in goal unless played at least one quarter as a field player.
·         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.  The minimum number of players needed to avoid a forfeit is 6 players.
·         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:  two maximum 1 ½ hour practices per week.

Duration of Game:  two 25 minute halves broken into 12.5-minute periods for substitution breaks. Halftime break of 5 -10 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 Regional Referees or higher are required for 12U and older games.  Carding of players is discouraged.  The referee should briefly explain any infringements to the player(s) and encourage proper play and sporting behavior. Referee may ask player to leave the field for dangerous, flagrant or unsportsmanlike behavior to cool down. As with all games, every effort should be made to keep the game moving and free from stoppages for doubtful infractions. Let them play and enjoy.

Assistant Referees/Club Linesmen:
A qualified Regional Referee or higher badge may be used to assist the referee calling the ball in and out of play only, the offside infringement and when appropriate fouls in their quadrant. This is an opportunity for newer referees to begin getting experience.  If qualified assistant referees are not available, club linesmen (untrained volunteers who may be affiliated with one of the teams/clubs) may be recruited from the spectators to assist the referee with calling the ball in and out of play only. This is an opportunity for parents to get involved.


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 choses what goal to attack and then kick off to start the second half if the winner of the coin toss chose 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/Scorekeeping:
A goal, in all age groups, is awarded when the ball completely crosses the goal line into the goal.  Formal scorekeeping occurs later in the season when standings will be kept to determine play-off teams.

For 12U and older games, all fouls identified in Law 12 apply. Refer to the Laws of the Game for more information. 

Misconduct should still be relatively rare in 12U games. Coaches at all levels of play have the option of calling players to the touchline to receive words of 'positive instruction' concerning player's behavior. 

Free Kicks:
Free kicks may be either direct (may score directly), or indirect (must be touched or played by another player before a goal can be scored) per the Laws of the Game. Opponents must be at least eight yards from the ball or on the goal line between the goal posts during free kicks.  Free kicks by the defending team within its penalty area no longer need to leave the penalty area before the ball is in play; however, the opposing team must retreat outside the penalty area until the ball is kicked (same as goal kicks).

Penalty Kicks:
Penalty kicks may be awarded in 12U and older games. A penalty kick results from a player committing one of the ten direct free kick fouls inside his/her own penalty area. The penalty kick is taken from the penalty mark with all other players outside the penalty area except the opposing team’s goalkeeper.

Throw-ins are required in 12U and follow the Laws of the Game including an opposing player must be at least 2 yards from the player taking the throw-in.  During the regular season when matches count in the standings, second chances are not given for improper throw-ins for 12U and older players.   An improper throw-in results in a throw-in for the opposing team.  However, during the pre-season matches that do not count in the standings, referees will be encouraged to allow on “do-over” to help coach a player the proper technique of a throw-in.

Goal Kick:
A goal kick is awarded to the opposing team 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. The goal kick no longer needs to leave the penalty area; however, opposing players must be outside the penalty area before the ball is kicked and clearly moves and may cross into the penalty area once that happens.

Goalkeeper Punts:
For 12U division the goalkeeper may punt the ball without infringement of any rules.

Corner Kick:
A corner kick is awarded to the opposing team when the defending team is last to touch the ball before it crosses the goal line but not scoring a goal. The opposing team must be at least eight yards from the ball when the corner kick is taken in 12U games.

The offside law applies in 12U and older 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. 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 their head during a match (taken where the player touched the ball with his/her head unless done by the defense inside the goal area where the ball is placed on top of the goal area in line nearest where the infraction occurred).

PDF Version

Download the 12U Division Guidelines

12U Guidelines 2023.pdf

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West Hills, California 91307

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