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FA Laws for Mini-Soccer Years 2 to 6 (5v5 and 7v7)

This guide provides the Laws for Year 2 and Year 3 versions of the game, with children playing a maximum of 5v5.

It also provides the Laws for Year 4 and Year 5 of the game, with children playing a maximum of 7v7.

These Laws are also correct for Year 6 when playing 7v7.

These are short-term experiences helping children learn about winning and losing in an appropriate environment.

  • Year 2: No season-long league tables; Short-term competitions lasting two weeks (three per season)
  • Year 3: No season-long league tables; Short-term competitions lasting two weeks (three per season)
  • Year 4: Noo season-long league tables; Short-term competitions lasting four weeks (three per season)
  • Year 5: No season-long league tables; Short-term competitions lasting four weeks (three per season)
  • Year 6: No season-long league tables; Short-term competitions lasting six weeks (three per season)

The winners of these events can be published and trophies can be presented.

Except where other provision, in these Laws are made, the Laws of Association Football apply. Each Law is numbered to correspond with the appropriate Law of the Game. These Laws are mandatory unless special permission is granted by The Football Association.

Law 1: Playing Area

Halfway Line

The field of play is divided into two halves by a halfway line. The centre mark is indicated at the mid-point of the halfway line. This is also used as the retreat line when restarting play with a goal kick.

Goal Size

The distance between the posts is 12ft and the distance between the lower edge of the cross bar and the ground is 6ft.

Please Note: If the Year 6s are playing 7v7 it is permissible to play with 16x7 goals too, based on the age of the child, not the format.

Law 2: The Ball

  • The ball should be size 3 for Years 1 to 4
  • The ball should be size 4 for Years 5 to 9
  • It should be safe and made of leather or another suitable material

Law 3: Number of Players

Maximum number per team, including goalkeeper

  • Year 2 and Year 3: 5v5 with a squad of 10 or less
  • Year 4 and Year 5: 7v7 with a squad of 14 or less

Year 6 children are permitted to play 9v9 but the recommendation is they play 7v7 in primary schools (as Year 5 children cannot play 9v9).

If a primary school can only put down one pitch due to availability of grass space, install a 60x40 for Years 4 to Year 6 to use.

The above indicates the maximum number of players per team at that age group. If the competition would like to have smaller numbers, e.g. 4v4 at Year 5, this is allowed within this framework.

A match may not START if either team consists of fewer than four players in a 5v5 and five players in a 7v7 match.

The minimum number of players in a team required for a match to CONTINUE is also four for a 5v5 match and five players for a 7v7 match.

Matches can begin with uneven sides, e.g. 5v4, but the importance and ethos of Mini-Soccer should be upheld wherever possible and the development of the children should come before the score line.

Players must play with and against players only from their own age range, as per Football Association and Competition rules. However, please see the Standard Code of Youth Rules as this means in most cases there is a two year age band in place.

Each team must have a squad no greater than double the size of the team per age.

Any number of substitutes, without being named, may be used at any time with the permission of the referee. A player who has been replaced may return to the playing area as a substitute for another player.

All team members should receive equal playing time where possible, with a best practice recommendation of at least 50% per player for each game.

Roll off roll on substitutions can be made at any time during the game with permission from the referee, including players who have already been substituted. Coaches can be flexible outside of Trophy Events. Development football can also be played using smaller numbers such as 4v4 or 3v3 when squad sizes and facilities on the day are suitable and both coaches agree.

Law 4: Playing Equipment

  • Children must wear shin guards and must be covered entirely by the socks.
  • Goalkeepers should wear a different coloured shirt to the rest of the team.
  • If the weather is poor then players should wear appropriate clothing but no hoodies are allowed.
  • Footwear should be appropriate for the playing surface e.g. no metal studs on artificial grass pitches.

Law 5: Referees

The Authority of the Referee

Each match is controlled by a referee who has full authority to enforce the Laws for Mini-Soccer in connection with the match to which they have been appointed.

Furthermore, referees should also recognise their role is to facilitate learning of the players, for example, allow young children to take a second attempt at a throw-in if the first is not within the Laws.

Law 6: Assistant Referee

Assistant referees are not required.

Law 7: Duration of the Game

In any one day, no player shall play more than

  • 40 minutes for Year 2 and 3
  • 60 minutes for Year 5
  • 100 minutes for Year 6

It is the responsibility of the parent/carer or organisation to ensure the child does not exceed this.

Each school will determine its own playing time within the maximum time permitted however the maximum duration will be

  • Year 2 and Year 3: 2 x 20 minutes
  • Year 4 and Year 5: 2 x 25 minutes
  • Year 6: 2 x 30 minutes

It is permitted during friendly matches that the periods of play can be split into equal quarters.

The half time interval must not exceed 5 minutes.

Law 8: Start and Restart of Play


A kick-off is taken at the centre of the playing area to start the game and after a goal has been scored.

Opponents must be 5 yards away from the ball and in their own half of the field. The ball must be played forward. In Mini-Soccer a goal cannot be scored directly from a start or restart of play.

Special Circumstances

A dropped ball to restart the match, after play has been temporarily stopped inside the penalty area, takes place on the penalty area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the ball was located when the play stopped. No goal can be scored direct from a dropped ball.

Law 9: Ball In and Out of Play

  • The goal line and touchlines are part of the field of play. The ball must be entirely over these lines to be out of play.
  • If an attacker is the last player to touch the ball over the goal line, a goal kick is given.
  • If a defender is the last player to touch the ball over the goal line, a corner kick is given.
  • If a player touches the ball over the touchline, a throw in is given to the opposing team.

Law 10: Method of Scoring

  • A goal is scored when the ball completely crosses the goal line between the posts and under the crossbar of the goal.
  • If a foul or hand ball occurs the goal shall be disallowed.

Law 11: Offside

  • There is no offside.
  • The children can be in any area of the pitch at any time apart from when the Retreat Line is played.

Law 12: Fouls and Misconduct

  • Free kicks are awarded when a foul is committed as in older age football. However, in Mini-Soccer all free kicks are direct.
  • A goalkeeper is not allowed to pick the ball up from a back pass or a throw in. If this happens a free kick should be given on the penalty area line closest to where the incident occurs.
  • As with all other aspects of Development Football the children should be learning the game. Coaches in training, and referees on the day, should try to make sure the children understand all of the above.

Law 13: Free Kicks

  • For all free kicks defending players must be 5 yards from the ball.

Law 14: Penalty Kicks

  • If a foul is committed in the penalty area by a defender a penalty kick will be awarded.
  • All players except the defending goalkeeper and kicker must be outside the penalty area and at least 5 yards from the penalty mark.
  • The ball must be kicked forward

Law 15: Throw-in

  • If a player touches the ball out of play over the touchline a throw in is awarded to the opposition.
  • Throw ins can be a difficult technique to learn for younger players so retakes are allowed. Referees should offer guidance to help children learn the game.

In addition, Year 2 and Year 3 children are permitted to roll the ball underarm with one or both hands into the field of play.

Law 16: Goal Kick

  • If an attacking player kicks the ball over the goal line a goal kick is awarded to the defending team.
  • A goal kick can be taken from any point within the penalty area and by any player from the team with the ball .
  • The ball must leave the penalty area to be in play. If this does not happen the kick can be retaken .
  • The team without the ball must retreat to their own half until the ball is in play.
  • Once the ball is in play, the team without the ball can try and win it back.
  • The defending team does not have to wait for the opposition to retreat and has the option to restart the game before should they choose to.
  • As with all the Laws of Development Football, the referee should help the players learn the game.

Law 17: Corner Kicks

  • If a defending player kicks the ball over the goal line a corner is awarded to the attacking team
  • The defending players must remain at least 5 yards from the ball until it is in play.
  • The player taking the corner may not touch the ball again until it has touched another player. If he/she does, a free kick is awarded against them.
  • The ball is in play immediately when it enters the field of play.

Optional Power Play Law (1 of 2)

Development football is designed to create the best learning and fun experience for young players. To ensure an imbalance in ability does not spoil this, the FA has approved 'Power Play' as an option that mini-soccer and youth leagues can adopt.

  • If a team is losing by a four-goal difference, they can put an additional player on so 5v5 becomes 6v5.
  • If the score returns to less than a four-goal difference the team takes off a player. It does not have to be the last player to come on.

Optional Power Play Law (2 of 2)

  • If a team goes on to be losing by a six-goal difference a further additional player can be added so 6v5 becomes 7v5. The main aim of the Power Play option is that all players are being challenged and enjoying the game.
  • Power Play is available through all mini-soccer football formats 5v5 and 7v7.