High School Soccer Rules & Regulations
The National Federation of State High School Associations, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, sets high school soccer rules in the United States as well as rules for 15 other sports. Founded in 1920, the NFHS largely borrows from the Laws of the Game set by FIFA, the international governing body of soccer. The federation allows cards for coach and bench players, forbids the use of tobacco at game site and doesn’t allow stutter stepping during penalty kicks, all points on which FIFA is silent.
The field of play needs to be a rectangle 100 to 120 yards long and 55 to 80 yards wide. NFHS recommends a minimum of 100 by 65 yards for high school fields and 100 by 55 yards for junior high schools. Markings of the penalty area, the goal area, the goal and the touch lines are the same as FIFA's, with the addition of a hash mark along the goal line 11 yards from the corner to indicate where opponents cannot encroach during corner kicks. The team bench must be at least 10 feet from the touch line.
No. 5 Ball
A size 5 adult ball bearing the NFHS authenticating mark must be used, inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure. The home team needs to provide three balls before play starts.
The game is played by two teams of not more than 11 players, including a goalkeeper. Each team designates a captain. If either team has fewer than seven players, the game will be terminated, with a forfeit declared.
Each team may substitute an unlimited number of players between periods, when a goal is scored or when a player is injured and removed from the field. Substitutions are also permitted on goal kicks or when a player is removed to serve a yellow caution card or leaves the field if they are bleeding; in all these situations, the incoming player needs to check in with the scorer’s table, a medic alert bracelet taped and visible
Jerseys and Shinguards
Players must wear a jersey, shorts, socks, shoes and shinguards with the bottom edge no higher than 2 inches above the ankle. The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment seal and the recommended height range of the player must appear on the NOCSAE-approved shinguard. The home team must wear white jerseys and socks, and the away team dark colors. Beginning with the 2013 fall season, the home team must wear white jerseys and socks. Jerseys must be tucked in during the game unless designed to hang outside of the waistband. All jerseys must be marked with a number on the back at least 6 inches tall and on the front at least 4 inches tall. Casts on the arm must be covered with a slow-recovery foam at least 1/2 inch thick.
Length of Game
The high school game consists of two 40-minute periods or four 20-minute quarters with a 10-minute overtime. State high school athletic associations may call for overtimes of up to 20 minutes or sudden victory extra time.
- National Federation of State High School Associations: About Us
- National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association: A Comparative Study of Rules and Laws (2013)
- 2010-11 NFHS Soccer Rules Book: Mark Koski, editor
- Gord Horne/iStock/Getty Images