Soccer coaching laws of the game Law 3 the number of players

These soccer coaching tips are designed to help coaches and players understand the fundamental laws of the game. This article gives a simple breakdown of Rule 3, the number of players.

A match is played by two teams, each consisting of not more than eleven players, one of whom is the goalkeeper. A match may not start if either team consists of fewer than seven players.

Mini soccer and 7-a-side
The minimum number of players to begin a match in small-sided games should be one less than the number required on the field.

Non-competitive matches There should not be a minimum for U8s and below. Clubs, administrators, coaches and referees should be encouraged to allow players from the team with sufficient numbers to ‘loan’ a player or two to the team that is short of players and then play.

Substitutions can take place at any stoppage in play. In most youth leagues players can come off and go back on any number of times (check local league rules). The number of substitutes is usually limited to four or five players (check local league rules).

To replace a player with a substitute, the following conditions must be observed:

  • The referee must be told before any substitution is made.
  • The substitute only enters the field of play after the player being replaced has left and after receiving a signal from the referee.
  • The substitute only enters the field of play at the halfway line and during a stoppage in the match.
  • The substitution is completed when a substitute enters the field of play.

Any of the outfield players may change places with the goalkeeper, provided that:

  • The referee is informed before the change is made.
  • The change is made during a stoppage in the match.


Soccer coaching tips for laws of the game

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Click the link for Laws of the game, Rule 4: the players’ equipment.

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