Laws of the Game (LOTG) & AYSO Adjustment to the Laws

Menlo Park AYSO games follow the FIFA Laws of the Game very closely, with only a few changes to adapt to AYSO's philosophy and to adapt the game to the physical and mental maturity of the players.  All AYSO referees should have a copy of the current AYSO Edition of The Laws of the Game, which contains both the FIFA Laws and AYSO's modifications to them.  You may download the current copy here.

AYSO Rules of Competition

Most of AYSO's Rules of Competition and modifications to the Laws are printed into the AYSO Edition of The Laws of the Game and our region's Guidelines. Click for the full text of AYSO's Rules and Regulations and Policy Statements.

Age Difference Changes 
Unlike many youth soccer leagues, AYSO limits substitution times to make it practical for the referee to ensure that "everyone plays" at least 3/4 of the game.  In U14 and younger games, substitutions are therefore only allowed at halftime and at two substitution breaks (sometimes called 'quarters') midway through each half.

  • U14 and above games use the full FIFA Laws of the Game on standard sized fields, and are officiated using the diagonal system of control. Assistant referees may be associated with the team, but the referee must be neutral.
  • U12 and above games use the full FIFA Laws of the Game on a reduced size field, with 9 players, and are officiated using the diagonal system of control. The referee should be a "neutral" (not related to anyone on either team) certified official. A relative may be an assistant referee in his or her child's game.
  • U9 and 10 games use the full FIFA Laws of the Game on reduced sized fields with 7 players, and are officiated using the Diagonal System of Control, with parent referees, using a three-referee team. No slide tackles are allowed in U9.  The offside rule is in effect.  See U9 and U10 Laws and Procedures.
  • U7 through U8 games are officiated by referees from the two teams. More information on referee assignment in the various age brackets can be found in the Referee FAQ. See U7-U8 Laws.
  • U6 games are not formally officiated at all; instead, they are "facilitated" by their teams' coaches. 

More Information

See Regional Guidelines for additional critical information on tailoring for the different age groups.

Substitution Rules for U16 and U19 Games
U16 and U19 games, unlimited, monitored, "free" substitutions are allowed (with the Referee's permission) throughout the game. Details can be found in the Madison League Free Substitution guidelines.  The Menlo Park AYSO policy of each player participating in 3/4 of the game must still be observed. 

ID Cards
For inter-regional play in U14, U16 and U19 during the fall season, Area 2A does not require player ID cards.  Individual tournaments and the spring select season may require ID cards.

Player Equipment 
Both The Laws of the Game and the AYSO rules of competition prohibit players from wearing anything that, in the opinion of the referee, may be dangerous to either themselves or another player. In general, prohibited items include jewelry of any sort, hard hair clips, and any hard casts.

Also, all players are expected to be protected by shin guards that cover the shin and have socks worn over the shin guards.

Protect the Keeper
In AYSO the keeper position should not be any less safe than any other position, and the referees and coaches should do their part to ensure keeper safety.

Referees must be particularly protective of the keeper in the younger age groups.  Players in the younger age groups do not have the control to safely, even if legally, aggressively challenge a keeper who is moving to possess the ball.  

Referees should warn players who display a tendency to aggressively challenge the keeper, before their play becomes dangerous. 

A referee may whistle for an indirect free kick if a challenge to a keeper is dangerous, or, depending upon the situation may whistle for a direct free kick foul if conduct is careless, reckless or using excessive force (and show a card as appropriate).