High school soccer rules include uniform rules, ball rules, field conditions and the actual rules of play. There are several sources that provide a starting point to the rules, but it is important to keep in mind that the rules vary from state to state.
National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS)
In high school soccer, there is one set of rules that are followed by most high school level soccer leagues. These rules come from the National Federation of State High School Associations, or NFHS. The NFHS enacts all new rules and rule changes to soccer once a year and distributes them each summer. It is important to check the NFHS website to see their updated rules and changes to existing rules once a summer (see Resources).
Rules at a State Level
It is important to note that while the NFHS does make the rules that most high school leagues follow, there are variations to these rules depending on the state. Each state is a member of the NFHS and use their rules as guidelines, but provide their own interpretations to the NFHS rules.
There are specific rules pertaining to the uniform each player wears on the high school soccer field. The home team must wear a light uniform color while the visiting team must wear a dark color. The goalie must have on a color that is different from the team players and the referee. All shirts must be tucked in and no jewelry is allowed to be worn. The team uniforms themselves must be numbered with a 6-inch number on the back of the jersey and a 4-inch number on the front of the jersey or shorts. If players wish to wear shirts or shorts under their uniform, they all must be identical, in a solid color and in length.
Goal Post, Balls and Field Conditions
The rear of each goal post must be placed on the outer edge of each goal line. Goal post may be padded using a commercial made, white pad that is 1 inch thick and 72 inches high. Placement of the pad should be on the vertical posts. There should be three balls supplied to the referee for play prior to the game. The balls should have the NFHS logo on them, they should be the same quality and if the home team does not supply the balls, the referee can choose from the visitor team's balls. Two ball holders must be present at each game. Field conditions are determined by the home team prior to the game. The referee will make the final decision if the home team fails to do so prior to the game.
A high school soccer game lasts for two 40-minute periods or four 20-minute quarters. Overtime is allowed up to 20 minutes and is determined by the state association. The play clock is stopped for a goal, a penalty kick, or any other determination by the referee (including injury, yellow and red cards). Soccer For Parents (see Resources), a website dedicated to helping parents understand the game of soccer says that a kickoff is used for the start of a game, after a goal is scored, at the start of each half or quarter and at the start of overtime. No hands are allowed to be used unless a ball hits ones hands on accident. Basically a player cannot handle the ball, but if it hits him on accident, it should be fine. It is up to the referee to make the call. Other rules from NFHS include offside, meaning players must stay on their side of the field. This is determined by any part of the head, body or feet, not the player's arms. A drop ball is when the ball is dropped between a player from each team. Drop balls are used when play is stopped by a whistle unless one team was obviously in possession. The NFHS also uses direct free kick, indirect kicks and throw-ins. Soccer For Parents says that direct and indirect kicks are the two ways the game is restarted after the whistle for an infraction. Also, the rule for a throw-in is that the ball must be thrown with both hands overhead and both feet on the ground.