MAYSL Modified Laws & Guidelines

Basic Rules

FIFA laws of the game are followed, with minor adjustments based on age group.

For a friendly overview of the Laws of the Game, see Laws of the Game Made Easy.

Please see Ref Training for information on how our refs are taught to enforce rules in each MAYSL age division.

Game Sizes

Laws 2, 3, and 7 are modified as shown:

Age Group # Players Min-Max Players Game Length Ball Size Goal Size
U4-U6 3v3 - coed, clinic style 3 PUGG pop-up goal
U7-U8 5v5 - 10-minute quarters 3 6’x12’ (width x height)
U10 7v7 5-14 25-minute halves 4 6.5’x18’
U12-U13 9v9 6-16 30-minute halves 4 7’x21’
U14+ 11v11 7-18 35-minute halves 5 8’x24’

See the Small-Sided Games chart for details from US Soccer’s page on the subject.

Growing with the Game

Some rules are introduced as players get into older age divisions:

  • start offside, substitutions, and throw-ins at U10
  • start drop-kicks at U12
  • start headers at U15

No Goal-to-Goal Scoring in U8

In U8, we don’t allow the goalkeeper to make a goal with a direct kick. The ball must be touched by another player before a legitimate goal can be made.

Offside in U10+

Law 11, “Offside”, is enforced beginning in U9/U10.

In U10, offside may only be applied when opposing players are beyond the build-out line. In MAYSL, offside is rarely enforced in U10 and is primarily taught and enforced beginning in U12.

For a friendly, clear explanation of offside rules, see Offside Made Easy.

Note Law 11.3 – No Offside Offense

There is no offside offense if a player receives the ball directly from:

  • a goal kick
  • a throw-in
  • a corner kick

Substitutions in U10+

Player substitutions during a game are only allowed when the ball is out of play. For example, during a throw-in or penalty kick.

At MAYSL, we don’t do single-player sub-ins until U10. In U8, a group of players will play for 10 minutes, then the whole group will come out and a new group will come in.

Throw-Ins in U10+

Law 15, “The Throw-In”, is enforced at U10 and above. For U8 and younger, we just kick from out-of-bounds.

Why? Kids have trouble learning proper throw-in technique when they’re that young, and we don’t want them to settle into bad habits. We’ve found that it’s better to wait until they’re a little older and more coordinated. When we have tried to enforce good throw-ins for 6 and 7-year-olds, we spend too much time on the sidelines. Watch a professional game – throw-ins should be correct and quick, so we wait until they’re ready to learn that.

Heading in U15+

Heading the ball is not allowed until a player joins a U14/U15 age division.

Taken from

California Youth Soccer Association Heading Policy

(Approved by Board of Directors, August 4, 2019)

Playing Policy

  • Heading is prohibited in 12U and younger small-sided games.

  • All players age eleven (11) years old and younger, who are playing up in 13U and older games, are prohibited from heading, and must clearly be identifiable to match official (e.g. an arm or head band).

  • When a player, who is eleven (11) years old and younger, deliberately heads the ball in a game, an indirect free kick should be awarded to the opposing team from the spot of the offense. If a deliberate header occurs within the goal area, the indirect free kick should be taken on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the infringement occurred. If a player does not deliberately head the ball, then play should continue.

  • All players age eleven (11) years old and younger, who participate in a non-CYSA sanctioned event with their CYSA player pass, must adhere to the CYSA heading policy and are prohibited from heading.

Practice Policy

  • All players age eleven (11) years old and younger are prohibited from heading.

  • It is strongly recommended for players between the ages of twelve (12) and seventeen (17) years old, heading in practice must be limited to a maximum of thirty (30) minutes per week, with no more than fifteen (15) to twenty (20) headers, per player, per week.

  • In addition, CYSA recommends that standard coaching methods to instruct on how to properly head the ball be instituted by all Affiliates. CYSA will assist Affiliates, as needed, in teaching coaches the proper heading techniques as such to reduce the risk of possible concussion.

Guest Players & Team Size

Guest players (aka borrowed players) can be pulled in for both recreational and competitive/travel games. CYSA District 7 outlines the essentials in their Playing Program Handbook:

  • they must be registered with the same league as the team they’re joining
  • they must be listed on the game roster as a guest player (“GP”)
  • the roster may not include more than 3 guest players

In addition, we have the following rules and guidelines.

When to Borrow Players

  • Borrow just enough players to fill your field positions, but not enough for substitutes (see the team-size table below).
  • Borrow players to support your team, not to add new scoring prowess. Consider adding them as defenders or a goalkeeper rather than offense goal-makers.
  • If a team is short players, both can agree to play short and keep an even number of players on the field.
  • When borrowing for coed matches, try to keep a balance of girls and boys. Seek an even physical match.

Guest Eligibility

  • Guest players must be registered in the league (see CYSA essentials above).
  • Girls may play as guests in any division.
  • Boys may only play as guests in all-male and coed divisions.
  • Borrowed players should be in the same age group or one year into the next lower group. For example, in U10, you could borrow 8- and 9-year-olds, who would be from the same division, or borrow a 7-year-old from U8, but never a 6-year-old.
  • Borrowed players should wear a pinny to identify them as guests.


  • Guest players must be approved by both coaches and the game officials.
  • Unless otherwise stated, these are guidelines subject to the judgement of the officials at the event and MAYSL representatives. Exceptions may be made to address conditions not accounted for here (for example, when players involved in a game have limitations due to medical conditions).

Game-time Team Sizes

Age Group # Players Min Max1
U4-U6 3v3 N/A N/A
U7-U8 5v5 N/A N/A
U10 7v7 5 14
U12-U13 9v9 6 16
U14+ 11v11 7 18

Play Time

All players should play at least half of each half of a game. It is acceptable for players in younger age groups, where quarters are played, to sit out a quarter; each player should participate in at least half of the total game time.

Games need to start on schedule. The home team should give the visiting team the game card (see below) at least 20 minutes prior to the start of the game. Be ready to check in players at least 15 minutes before game time. If games start late, playing time will be decreased.

Game Supplies

The home team (the 1st team in schedule listings) is responsible for providing at each game:

  • the game card
  • 2 soccer balls

The coach of the home team can get the game card at the field before game time, then fill it out with their team roster. Pass it to the visiting team coach, who will fill it out then give it to the ref. The ref should have the card by 15 minutes before game time.


All players must wear shin guards which are completely covered by socks (socks may not be worn under the guards and folded down over the top.)

Sweatpants are not permitted. In cold weather long sleeve shirts or non-hooded sweatshirts may be worn under the jersey.

No jewelry of any kind or metal is allowed to be worn in a game.

For more info, see the Equipment section on the Parents page.

Field Care

The first teams of the day should help set up the goals on their fields.

All teams should clean up their areas after their games.

The last teams of the day should help move them off the fields.

(The fields are used by Yosemite High School for other sports during the week.)


The decisions of referees must be respected. It is not acceptable for anyone, including coaches, players, or spectators, to complain about calls in a game.

Coaches will be held accountable for the behavior of anyone involved with their team, including players and spectators. In cases of excessive yelling or any behavior not in the spirit of the game, referees may ask coaches to control behavior on their sidelines and full support is expected. Coaches who are unable to control the situation may be asked to leave the game or the game may be abandoned.

No coaches, substitute players, or spectators are allowed behind either end line of the field.

Lead Limits

The league expects its coaches to teach proper sportsmanship to players. Coaches of teams leading by at least 3 goals should make changes to actively level the playing field.

Please see the Coaches section on lead limits for more on this.

Further Reading

We have various resources available on our site, including a copy of the FIFA Laws of the Game.

  1. Minimum and maxium # of players in a game roster are taken from the CYSA District 7 Playing Program Handbook, 2021