Youth Soccer Goalie Rules


Youth players benefit from a clear understanding of goalie rules. Since it’s best to rotate most of your players in goal, you can work to impart an understanding of what to do in each likely situation to all your players. Taking turns in goal allows your aspiring goalkeepers to also gain experience and valuable footwork training as field players, writes Raymond Verheijen in “Complete Handbook of Conditioning for Soccer.”

FIFA Rules

The basic rules of adult goalkeeping also apply to youth soccer, as most youth leagues make only limited exceptions to the Laws of the Game promulgated by FIFA, the international governing body of the sport. The goalkeeper wears a different color jersey from that of her teammates and the opponents. Within the penalty area, the goalkeeper can pick up the ball with her hands, bounce the ball once, drop-kick or punt the ball or throw it. She may not delay the game indefinitely. She cannot pick up a back pass from a teammate’s foot but can handle balls headed back.


Players in the Under-8, U-6 and U-5 age groups generally play on teams of three to five players without goalkeepers, according to the rules of the American Youth Soccer Organization, although regions can choose to allow goalies in the U-8 group. AYSO U-10 players, typically 8 or 9 years old, begin to play with goalkeepers as part of seven-child teams, and goalkeepers continue to be present in youth divisions up to U-19. U.S. Youth Soccer, the other major youth soccer governing body, similarly recommends goalkeepers beginning with U-10s as part of teams of six players.


U.S. Youth Soccer notes that rules for goalkeepers conform to FIFA rules with the exception that if a goalie kicks or punts in the air from her penalty area to the opponents’ penalty area, the opposing team receives an indirect free kick at the center spot on the halfway line. The goalie can punt the ball the full length of the field if he aims the ball for the narrow area outside the penalty area yet still within the far goal line. The goalie can throw the ball the length of the field and score legally, notes the website Ask a Referee.


The goalkeeper shall not be interfered with or harassed while trying to put the ball into play, AYSO rules state. In practice, this means opponents cannot jostle the keeper as he prepares to punt or throw the ball or shadow the keeper, standing in front of him as he gets ready to put the ball into play. AYSO calls for the referee to protect the keeper from dangerous play.