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Player Equipment and Rules

Safety of the players is always of utmost importance. The following is a guide to the rules and player equipment at each age level.

League provides shirt with registrationPlayers must provide their own shin guards, shorts, and socks. All players are required to wear shin guards at every practice and every game. Socks must completely cover the shin guard. Cleats Recommended (only soccer eligible allowed - no front toe cleat - no spikes) - tennis shoes may be worn. The league DOES NOT provide any trophies. No hats, non-prescription sunglasses,jewelry, watches, or other sharp objects (rings, bracelets, earrings, etc) of any type may be worn. Reasonable accommodations for Medical related items will be made at referee's discretion if determined to be safe. Players may play with a bubble wrapped hard cast with a medical release from doctor. Ball is optional - players are not required to purchase a ball - see size information for each age group below.

Player Equipment Donation/Exchange Program

The Harrisburg Park District Office, during office hours, will accept your gently used soccer equipment (cleats, shin guards, balls, etc.). The items will then be available to players who may be able to use them. It cleans out your closet and maybe helps someone on a tight budget - a win - win. 

Goal Keeper Equipment

A Goal Keeper (not a Goalie - that is Hockey) is used in First Grade and higher. The Goal Keeper must wear a different color shirt, jersey or pinnie from either team's colors. This rule is not strictly enforced in our recreational program for practical reasons. However, it is ideal. It is also recommended that Goal Keepers wear Goal Keeper gloves to protect hands and fingers. However, no rule requires it.    

 In general, we follow FIFA rules with some modifications for youth play.    

The link below is a good site explaining general soccer rules. These are not the exact rules followed by SYSA. They are a general guide to youth soccer rules: My Youth Soccer Guide

Referees, coaches, fans, and players are reminded to conduct themselves in a manner that is respectful to one another and the game.   

Coaches and players will be on one side of the field. Fans will be on the other side of the field.  

There is to be no coaching from the fan side of the field or at the end of field near goal boxes.

A player that is not on your team roster assigned by the league CANNOT play for your team at any time. 

Both teams must play with the same number of field players at all times. The only exception is a team has to play short if a player is ejected (red carded) by the referee from the game. Teams may be asked to play with no substitution players available to play the same number of players as the other team. The final decision on the number of field players rests with the referees.   

This is recreational soccer. The emphasis should be on a fun environment to learn and enjoy the game of soccer. All players should play at least 50% of each period. For players interested in a more competitive environment, please see the information in our Travel and SIMSS programs. 

Any game ending in a tie - ends in a tie. There will be absolutely NO games "settled" with overtime play and/or penalty kicks.  

Slide Tackling (an attempt to tackle the ball away from an opponent while sliding on the ground) is not allowed for any age group during recreational play.  

Below is a list of the more common soccer rules. This is not a complete list of rules. 


Either team may substitute on a Goal Kick, when a goal is scored, when an injury occurs, and between halves (and quarters). 

Before the throw-in, the team awarded the throw-in may substitute.  At referee discretion, they may also let the other team make substitutions. 

The number of players that may be substituted is unlimited.

Alert the center referee on any Goal Keeper change.  

Substitute players should stand at the halfline several feet behind the touchline until the referee signals for them to come on.  

Special Rules for PreK/K : Coaches may substitute at any stoppage of play


Throw-in - when entire ball crosses the Touch Line (sideline). 

Goal Kick - when entire ball crosses the Goal Line (endline) last touched by the attacking team

Corner Kick - when entire ball crosses the Goal Line (endline) last touched by the defensive team

Kick Off - to start the match and second half (or quarter), and after a goal is scored. The ball may move in any direction on initial kick and the player making the initial touch cannot kick the ball again until another player from either team has touched the ball. This rule will only be striclty enforced for third grade and higher.   

Special Rules for PreK/K: A Kick-in may be used rather than a throw-in. Opposing team should be on their half of the field on a Gaol Kick by the other team. Opposing team must be approximately five yards from a player taking a Corner Kick.    


Offside will be called for third grade and higher. In the younger age groups, a player may be cautioned by the referee if a player is intentionally "cherry picking" the goal. 

It is not an offense to be in an offside position (attacker is beyond the last defensive player not including the Goal Keeper). The offense occurs when a player in the offside position becomes involved in the play, e.g. a pass is made to a player while in an offside position. There is no offside offense if a player receives the ball directly from a goal kick, a corner kick, or a throw-in. The restart for an offside offense is an Indirect Free Kick from the spot of the foul for the defensive team.  

Specific Rules For Each Division: 

No Heading in Except 6th - 8th Grade

No intentional heading of the ball is allowed. The penalty is an indirect free kick for the other team at the spot of the foul. There is no foul when the ball unintentionally strikes the head.  


Score is Not Kept 

4v4 (or 3 v 3) - each team has four field players - no goal keeper 

Recommended Player Formation: Diamond or Triangle 

             CF (center forward)

LW (left wing)            RW (right wing)

            CB (center back)
No Offsides or Penalty Kicks

Ball Size 3

Four 8 Minute Quarters (2 min. between quarters; 5 min halftime) 

No Referees - Coaches keep time and facilitate play on the field 

First/Second Grade:

7v7 - each team has 6 field players plus a goal keeper

Recommended Formation: 1-2-3-1

             CF (center forward)

   LW (left wing)        RW (right wing)

             HM (holding mid)

   LB (left back)        RB (right back)

              GK (goal keeper)

Ball Size 4

2 25 minute halves (5 minute halftime)

No Offsides or Penalty Kicks. A player/coach may be warned for cherry picking goal. 

Referees at this level should be more instructional and less punitive, i.e. show them how to do a proper throw-in and let them try again.

Third/Fourth/Fifth Grade

7v7 - each team has 6 field players plus a goal keeper  

Recommended Formation: 1-2-3-1  

                CF (center forward)

   LW (left wing)        RW (right wing)

             HM (holding mid)

   LB (left back)        RB (right back)

              GK (goal keeper)

Ball Size 4

Offside and Penalty Kicks in Effect

Two 25 Minute Halves (5 minute halftime)

Sixth - Ninth Grade (max age for boys 14; max age for girls 15 as of August 31) 

9v9 - each team has 8 field players plus a goal keeper (note: this age group normally plays 11v11. However, we are utlizing smaller team sizes to increase number of teams and number of touches by individual players). 

Recommended Formation: 1-3-2-3

                              CF (center forward)

  LW (left wing)                                             RW (right wing)

        LM (left mid-fielder)             RM  (right mid-fielder)

 LB (left back)          CB (center back)              RB (right back)

                                GK (goal keeper)

Ball Size 5

Two 30 Minute Halves (5 minute halftime) 

Contact Us

Saline Youth Soccer Association (SYSA)

921 W Poplar St 
Harrisburg, Illinois 62946

Email Us: [email protected]
Phone : 618-252-2111
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