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HCS Game Rules and Expectations for ALL Age Divisions

New for U4/U5/U6 (adjustments made in Spring 2022):
  • Switch sides at halftime
  • Substitutions - No substituting "on the fly," sub only when the ball goes out of bounds and at quarter breaks. We recommend that players be substituted every 4 minutes, but this is not a hard and fast rule; each coach can sub players in whatever way makes the most sense for their team.
  • Out of bounds - there is no gray area for out of bounds. If the ball completely crosses the line it is out of bounds and play should stop and be restarted. If the ball does not completely cross the line it is still in bounds and play does not stop.

New for U6 (adjustments made in Spring 2022):
  • Throw-ins replace kick-ins - both feet flat on the ground until ball is released, ball is held with both hands and goes back completely over the head before being thrown forward and released. If the throw-in is done incorrectly, it needs to be redone. Each team gets unlimited throw-ins, but if the same player continues to do it incorrectly, another player on the same team should be given the ball to do the throw-in and get the game moving.
  • Goal kicks - when offense kicks the ball out at the end line, ball to be placed in front of the goal
  • Corner kicks - when defense kicks the ball out at the end line, ball to be placed on the corner closest to where it was kicked out

Mercy Rule:
If your team is in a position where they are 5 goals ahead of the other team, please have your team implement the following strategies in order to stop scoring and to focus on controlling the ball and skill building. Be discreet and tactful about implementing these strategies; you don't want to make the players on the other team feel bad.

Some strategies we expect you to use to hold down scoring:
  • Move the offensive players to defense and vice versa.
  • Remove your main goalie and put in a player who is not a goalie. 
  • Remove a player or two (play down). Never do this at the start of half time because it is too obvious. Wait until you sub and, for example, you will sub in 3 players but pull out 4 players. Quietly let the center ref know you will do this ahead of time so they don't say anything about it. This one really makes the team have to play harder and smarter to keep the control of the ball when they are outnumbered on their offensive end.
  • Make all the players dribble and shoot only with their non-dominant foot. If they mess up and switch to their dominant foot, they have to pass the ball to another player.
  • Tell the team that all players must touch the ball before they can begin a drive to the goal.
  • Only allow one or two players to score (usually players who have not scored for the season). All other players must pass, cross, chip and etc. to these players if they want the team to score.
  • The players can only shoot outside of the penalty box (the big box). This one is not quite as effective in slowing down the scoring, but if you have to slow down scoring for a large part of the game, this one can help mix it up a little bit for your team.
  • Make the team carry the ball to all four corners of the field before they can begin an attack. This method can be used in conjunction with any of the other methods.
  • If all else fails, you can have your team shoot at a target behind and way off to the sides of the goal in order to still maintain the forward drive of the play while maintaining formation, support, and full normal team set up. Only use this one with select players during a game and not on the whole team.
  • If needed, use several of these methods simultaneously to slow down or stop scoring.

Things NOT to do if you are the coach for the team that is ahead:
  • Please don’t yell out to your team that they can’t score. Be discreet and tactful about implementing these strategies. You don't want to make the players on the other team feel bad.
  • Please instruct your players ahead of time that they should not make comments about not scoring or that they are changing the way they are playing.
  • As the coach, you are responsible for how your team handles this situation.
    Sportsmanship is imperative. Everyone deserves to leave the field with their dignity intact.

If you are the coach for the team that is down:
  • Continue to encourage your players to play their best. Your players' attitudes will reflect your response to the score. We are here to build skills and have fun. Learning how to lose with grace is just as important as learning how to win with grace.
  • Don’t complain about the other team to your players.
  • Don’t complain that the other team has scored.
  • Encourage your players to not give up. (Sportsmanship is a two-way street.)

No Heading:

  • In order to minimize the possibility of concussions, there will be NO HEADING in U4 through U10.  
  • U12 can practice heading the ball in a controlled way with explicit instructions on how to do it from the coach, but heading is still not allowed in games.  
  • U14 & Teens are allowed to head the ball in both practices and games.

For more information regarding this policy, check out this article:
and also these resources from the Concussion Legacy Foundation: and  Hendricks Community Soccer feels strongly that our children's brains should be protected.

If you are a coach, please familiarize yourself with the signs of a concussion.  This is a great resource for coaches:, and this is a great resource to hand out to your team parents:

Player Equipment:

  • All players must provide their own shin guards, and wear them to every practice and every game. Hard surfaces of shin guards must be covered with socks. (Referees will check this). Encourage parents to buy properly sized shin guards that have a hard surface (plastic or fiberglass) and padding to cover the anklebone. Shin guards should cover the entire shin, from the ankle to the knee.
  • All players must provide their own soccer cleats. No baseball or football cleats, and no metal cleats allowed. (Referees will check.)
  • Each player should bring a bottle of water to games and practices. Coaches should allow adequate water breaks during practice. There should be NO sharing of water bottles.
  • Each player should bring their own personal container of hand sanitizer with them to practices and games.
  • Each player need to provide his/her own soccer ball.  U4, U5 & U6 use a size 3; U7 - U12 use a size 4; and U14 & older use a size 5 ball.
  • At games, each player must wear their game jersey and socks (provided by HCS), shorts or pants, shin guards, and soccer cleats. (No baseball or football cleats, and no metal cleats allowed. Referees will check.)
  • No jewelry, metal devices, or hazardous equipment may be worn. (Arm casts can be allowed if the player has a doctor’s release, the cast is padded with foam or bubble wrap, and the referee approves it before the game. New piercings that cannot be removed must be covered with a bandaid or medical tape and approved by the referee.)

Coach Equipment:

Coaches must carry their team roster during games. (It is fine for coaches to have their roster on their phone.)

It is recommended that coaches also have the following:

  • Spare shin guards for any player who forgets their pair on game day.
  • Spare soccer balls for practices as well as games. 
  • An air pump to ensure that all balls are inflated and in good condition.
  • First aid kits in their supply bag
  • Cones (at least 10)
  • Pinnies for at least half the team to use for practice scrimmages.  
  • A stopwatch to track time
  • A whistle (for games for U4 - U6; for practices only for U8 and up)
  • Make a sanitizing solution by mixing 1/3 C bleach to 1 gallon of water. Put the diluted solution into a squirt bottle to keep with you at practices and games to sanitize shared equipment (especially soccer balls).
  • Hand sanitizer for personal use as well as extra in case any players forgot theirs. Use it often, and have your players do the same!

Equal Playing Time:

Coaches are encouraged to do their best to provide equal playing time to all players on the team as much as possible.

U4 - U6 Coaches:

  • You will be tracking the time for your own games.  It is very important that you watch your time closely to ensure that we stay on schedule.  Just a few minutes over for each game adds up throughout the day and means that the teams toward the end of the day don't have any time to warm up on the fields before their game is scheduled to begin.  Please be sure to track your time closely so we can ensure that all teams have their proper warm-up time!
  • You may need to recruit some bench help.  We assign as many assistant coaches and team parents as we have, but we don’t always have as many as we need.  If you were not assigned an assistant coach or team parent, please recruit one of your parents to help keep an eye on your players on the bench during the games.


For U7 and above, HCS allows unlimited substitutions on goal kicks, after a scored goal by either team, before a throw-in, and at an injury time-out if the other team replaces a player. Except at half-time or during quarters, substitutions may only occur with the Referee’s permission. Players entering & leaving the field should only do so at the halfway line.

Substitution Etiquette:

  • Benched players go to the middle of the side lines.
  • Coaches are standing with their players to make sure nobody enters the field without permission.
  • Coaches call for subs.
  • Referees give permission for subs to leave and enter field (nobody is to leave or enter the field without the referee’s permission).
  • Once Players on the field leave their position, subs can then enter the field.
  • If too many substitutions are made (e.g., if a coach is subbing too frequently and interrupting the flow of game play), refs have authority to deny substitution.
  • No substitutes are permitted the last two minutes of the game.

No Sliding:

There is absolutely NO sliding.
  This is a safety issue.  Players need to stay on their feet.  

  • U7 & U8: referee will instruct coach to substitute player
  • U10: 1st offense - player will be substituted; 2nd offense - player will be yellow carded; 3rd offense - player will receive 2nd yellow, resulting in red card. The disciplined player will be ejected from the current game.
  • U12 and above: 1st offense - player will be yellow carded; 2nd offense - will be a second yellow card, resulting in a red card. The disciplined player will be ejected from the current game. 
  • A foot-first slide that includes contact with another player may result in an immediate red card. In this case, the disciplined player will be ejected from the current game and will not be allowed to play the following game.

Coaching During Games:

There are many things that you can teach in a game that are difficult to teach in practice, especially if you only practice one time a week.  Look at games as another teaching opportunity. Be sure to stay on your side of the field and to permit the referees the space they need to work. Remember you have to coach from the side lines, not the "end zones," and not on the field (unless you're a coach in U4 - U6).  Keep it positive, encourage your players, and always remember that our goal is to help the kids learn and to have fun!

Keep Game Play Safe:

When the game play gets rough, tempers flare on both sides and the situation quickly escalates.  All of a sudden players are no longer having fun or learning, they are instead focused on protecting themselves and/or retaliation.  We need both referees and coaches to police this type of behavior.  Rough behavior includes, but is not limited to:

  • Elbowing ("chicken wings")
  • Tripping
  • Shoving

Coaches, if you see that your players are engaging in rough play on the field, please pull them from the game and explain to them why you did.  Have a discussion with them about it, and make sure they agree to quit doing this before you put them back on the field again.  It doesn’t matter who starts it, we all need to work together to put a stop to it so that we can make sure that our players are having fun and learning good sportsmanship.  We thank you for your cooperation with this!


For U7 and up, referees will assess an injury and decide whether or not the game play will be stopped.
  • Blood is the only guaranteed stop to a game.
  • Coaches do not stop game play, referees do.
  • Untied shoes do not stop game play.
  • Cleats coming off of players do not stop game play.
  • Tears do not stop game play.
  • If a child is on the ground, the referee will make an assessment of the situation.
  • If game play is stopped and a goal is scored, the goal will not count.



Just because a ball touches a player's hand does not mean that the referee is obligated to call a handball penalty.  In order for the referee to call a penalty, they must believe that there was intent on the part of the player.  Sometimes a ball will hit a player's hand, and it is obvious that it was not intentional.  Other times, it is obvious that it was intentional, and that it affected the game play.  The referee must make a call based on what they observed as to whether or not to call a handball penalty.

Respect the Referees and Referee Decisions:

Do NOT yell at the referees.  Please remember that the majority of our referees are kids who are leaning how to referee, just like the players on the field are learning the game of soccer.  Hendricks Community Soccer is a learning league.  In order to best serve that mission, we want to provide a positive, nurturing atmosphere for all learning involved, both for our players and for our referees.  Coaches set the tone for how both players and parents treat the referees on the field.  Hendricks Community Soccer referees do have permission to red card and eject coaches who yell at them during games.

Coaches, parents, and players will not always agree with referee decisions.  That's a given in any sport, at any level.  That is no excuse to yell at our referees, who are children themselves.

Similar Jersey Colors:

Due to the fact that there are not enough colors in the rainbow, some teams may actually be the same or very similar in color.  In that event, pinnies will be provided if necessary.  The home team will wear the pinnies.

Coaches are Asked to Explain Game and Field Etiquette to Parents:

  • No baseball or football cleats, and no metal cleats are allowed. Referees will check.
  • No pets on Hendricks Community Soccer grounds.  People who bring pets to the games will be asked to leave.
  • No parking on or along the grass, along the roads or the parking lot adjacent to the soccer fields.  Cars that are parked or idled along the roads or soccer fields will be asked to move.
  • Weather: in the event that games are cancelled due to inclement weather, cancellations will be posted on our Facebook page ( and text messages will be sent to head coaches so that they can communicate cancellations to their players.
  • Respect referee and coach decisions
  • Refrain from being on playing field during game and permit referees the allowed space to work.
  • Parents sit on the opposite side of the field from the players.
  • If disruptive during game day, the referee will speak to the coach and ask the coach to speak to the parent.  If the disruptive behavior continues, the parent could be removed from fields by an HCS official. 

Teams Short on Players:

In the event that a team does not have enough players in attendance at a game, there are several options that can be considered in order to move forward with game play: 
  • Both coaches can agree to play with fewer players on the field
  • One coach can agree to “share” players with the other team.  Sharing players is a wonderful demonstration of sportsmanship.  It creates camaraderie between the players on both teams, and it allows for more playing time for all of the players at the game. 
  • Both coaches can agree to play with quarters instead of halves so that the players can get extra water breaks.

The coaches of both teams should discuss the matter with the referees and determine the appropriate way to proceed with the game.


Our league relies on volunteers to operate.  The concession stand helps us to raise the necessary funds to continue working to improve the experience for all of our league families.  Every season, we need each team to provide four volunteers for a 2-3 hour time-slot to help us out with these duties.  We will create a volunteer schedule and a sign-up list shortly after the rosters and the game schedules have been released. Please sign up for your team's volunteer shift, and make sure to specify which duty you are volunteering for. Volunteers are crucial to the league's ability to operate.  Without volunteers, the concession stand and golf cart may have to shut down, and we would like to avoid that as much as possible.  You can find the links to our volunteer sign-ups on our volunteer page:
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