7U Referee Guide


Pre-Game Stuff:

  • You are their guide. The “referee’s credo,” the Spirit of The Game, is to keep things SAFE, FAIR, and FUN.
  • Field of Play (FoP)–locations; field markings for “normal field” 
    • 7U–has a “Big Box” instead of a Penalty Area
  • Duration of the Match
    • 7U–2 x 15’ halves, 5’ halftime interval
    • Be there early enough to help get things going on time
  • Number of Players
    • 7U–5 v 5, or 4 v 4, never unbalanced; no goalkeeper
    • Open Substitutions–“On The Fly” per Coach’s instruction
  • Pre-Game Duties
    • Check player uniforms; safety
      • Must have shinguards; under/beneath socks
      • Safe footwear (doesn’t have to be fancy cleats/spikes)
      • No jewelry, NO EARRINGS (let coach deal with this per your instructions), no casts; medical bracelets on (info showing); religious items ok
    • Coin Toss–if you have time (!); 2 players in center of field; winner chooses Kick-off or Direction; other side gets what’s left… (For 2nd half, switch directions, and other team kicks off to start 2nd half.)
  • Get players on FoP and get the game going ASAP

The Start of Play:

To start the first and second halves, and following each goal, play is started or restarted with a kick-off in the middle of the field. One of the teams kicks off to start the game and the other team kicks off to start the second half. Following a goal the team that was scored upon kicks off.

The Kick-off

The kick-off is taken from the center of the field with each team in their own half, and the team not kicking off needs to be roughly 8 yards away.  Don’t split hairs on this “distance,” just move them back…  The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves.  It does not need to be kicked forward.

Ball In and Out of Play:

The ball is out of play when it completely crosses the touch line (side line) or goal line (end line), either on the ground or in the air

“Kick-in/Pass-in/Dribble-in”:  (no throw-ins at 7U)

When the ball goes out of play over a touch line (sideline), a “Kick-in” is awarded from where it crossed the line… to the team that didn’t touch it last. The ball should be placed on the ground, on or behind the touchline approximately where the ball left the field of play. The player should pass the ball into the field BUT they may also dribble the ball into the field if they wish, but it must touch another player before a goal can be scored.  There are no throw-ins for 7U.

Goal Kick/Corner Kick:

If the ball goes over the goal line (but not into the goal), it’s a

  • “Corner Kick” for the attacking team, if the defending team touched it last.
  • “Goal Kick” for the defending team, if the attacking team touched it last.

Corner Kicks are taken from the “corner arc,” in the corner where the touchline and goal line meet. (There may not be a Corner Arc marked.)  

Goal Kicks are taken from the “big box” line parallel to the goal line (from the penalty area line) so the players can get it out of their area. (If there is no Big Box, have them take it from the Goal Line.) 

The REFEREE in 7U games will determine when one of these restarts is necessary and should then interfere as little as possible in the restart (though the referee may have to explain to the players what they should be doing). It’s their game, let them play. The coach can work on technique later.

Restarts for Fouls: 

Deliberate fouling is rare in 7U games. Kicking, tripping, handling the ball and dangerous play may occur. The Referee should stop play and correct the situation, then restart with a “Free Kick” for the deserving team. All free kicks in 7U games are DIRECT free kicks. There are no penalty kicks. There should be few, if any, additional reasons to stop play in 7U games. 

Restart for Other Stoppages, Neutral Reasons–Dropped Ball Restart:

If a player is “not playing well with others” or if play must be stopped for any other reason (injury, substitution, or confusion), the Referee should refocus the players and begin play again with a “Dropped Ball.” (Note: Referees should not make a dropped ball restart a lengthy ceremony. No players even need to be present in the vicinity of the ball. Just drop the ball, and when it hits the ground, yell “play”). Exercise common sense. Let ‘em play.

Distance Away on Restarts:

7U–KO, Free Kicks, Goal Kicks, Corner Kicks–opponents roughly 8 yds away; Kick-Ins–at least 2 yards.

Players should be asked to stand back roughly 8 yards from the ball being kicked (for free kicks, goal kicks, corner kicks, kick-offs) to give the kicker room to kick the ball without it immediately hitting an opponent. Note: technically, players should be at least 4.5 yards away during a Dropped Ball restart, but don’t split hairs on this at this age.

Method of Scoring

A goal, in all age group games, is awarded when the ball completely crosses the goal line into the goal. Goals should be enthusiastically celebrated by everyone in 7U games; they are not recorded to determine who wins.  “Everyone wins” in 7U games.


Hand Ball–was it deliberate?

Remember, we’re talking about 6-year olds here! Don’t be a stickler and stop play for every transgression. Remind them not to use their hands and play on (!) unless it’s a crazy-blatant use of the hands… That said, a handball offence occurs when a player handles the ball deliberately. The “handing the ball” includes the entire arm up to the armpit (deltoid and above is NOT a handball). Instinctive, self-protective reactions are not penalized. Accidental contact (ball striking hand or arm with no intent by the player) is not an offense and should not be penalized.  A referee might well decide that it is in the best interest of the game (at this level) to let play continue, and simply remind players “Remember, no hands.”

Referee’s Role

The Referee plays a key role in 7U games. You are the guide that introduces them to this sport. As such, you will actively speak to, and interact with, players more than you would in older divisions. You will need to explain and guide every restart, and indeed will sometimes have to actually place the ball in the right spot for the restart. For instance, you might need to physically put the ball on the penalty area line for a goal kick, or on the corner for a CK. Simply telling the kids what to do sometimes doesn’t work.  The game will run smoothly if you take charge in guiding the players through the match. 

Open Substitutions

In 7U there is “open substitution”.  Coaches should be rotating their players frequently so that no player is “out” (a substitute) for more than 2 minutes at a time.  The referee should not stop play for this.  Coaches should simply call their players out and when the player has left the field, the “replacing” player goes in.

Have fun and play on!!