Click here to download the NSL Rules of Play manual

Roster Size for 13U-18U

Although 13U-18U rosters may carry up to 22 players only 18 may play in a game. Any additional players over the 18 may stay on the team bench as long as they are not dressed in uniform.

Club Passes

Club passes are unlimited for the 9U-13U age groups. Players may be written on the roster prior to the game and must have a passcard and be age appropriate to the team.

Club passes for 14U – 18U/19U age groups are limited to a maximum of 6. Please note that all existing rules still apply to the club pass program for these ages which includes the following; a player may play up an age group at any level. An age appropriate player may play down an age group only at the same level as they currently play or a higher one. Players should be written on the roster prior to the game and a copy of the roster given to the opponent BEFORE the match begins.


League games shall be played in accordance with the most current FIFA laws of the Game and the modifications noted within these rules.It is the responsibility of all coaches and referees to be thoroughly familiar with and abide by the FIFA laws and these modifications.

Modified rules for 7v7 play;
  1. When the goalkeeper has the ball, either during play (from the opponent) or from a goal kick, the opposing team must move behind the build out line until the ball is put into play
  2. Once the opposing team is behind the build out line, the goalkeeper can pass, throw or roll the ball into play (punting and/or drop kicks from the hands are not allowed)
  3. After the ball is put into play by the goalkeeper, the opposing team can cross the build out line and play resumes as normal.  The ball is considered in play when it breaks the plane of the penalty area for a goal kick or when the goalkeeper puts the ball on the ground from his/her hands.
  4. If a goalkeeper punts OR drop kicks the ball, an indirect free kick will be awarded to the opposing team to be taken on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the nearest point to where the infringement occurred
  5. The build out line will also be used to denote where offside offenses can be called
  6. Players cannot be penalized for an offside offense between the halfway line and the build out line
  7. Players can be penalized for an offside offense between the build out line and goal line
  8. If the build out line is not evident then it is recommended that the referee retreat to a point on the field equidistant between the penalty area and the half way line and instruct the opposition team to be level with them when the goalkeeper has the ball.  Furthermore, for offsides the half way line should be used and if both team officials consent then the half way line could be used as the ‘build out’ line.
Deliberate Heading of the Ball
  1. Deliberate heading is not allowed in 9-U through 11-U games
  2. If a player deliberately heads the ball in a game, an indirect free kick should be awarded to the opposing team from the spot of the offense
  3. If the deliberate header occurs within the goal area, the indirect free kick should be taken on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the nearest point to where the infringement occurred
  4. Heading is allowed in games for 12-U and above without limitations however it is expected that coaches and parents will stress to their 11U and younger players that they are not allowed to deliberately head the ball regardless of the age group in which they play e.g. ab 11 year old playing with a 12U team.  This requires education and support from the coach and parent to instruct the player accordingly.
  5. Referees should enforce these restrictions by age group according to the specified rules.  Referees will not be assessing the age of individual players on the field; they will enforce the rules for the age group.
Additional Modified Rules for 9-U Games
  1. Referees are instructed to allow one re-take of a throw-in with players informed what he/she did incorrectly
  2. There should be no more than 3 team officials on player’s sideline
  3. Both coaches and referee must meet before game to review all modified rules
Field & Equipment Dimensions

9-U and 10-U  

  • Fields – Length: 55-65 yards; Width: 35-45 yards
  • Goals – Height: 6.5 ft; Width: 12 ft

Note: 9-U and 10-U fields are required to have a ‘build out line’ which should be equidistant between the penalty area line and halfway line. This ‘build out line’ should be marked on the field with a line or can be marked on each touch line by using an identifiable marker such as a cone or flag.   For those fields that are the minimum width and length we recommend using a smaller penalty area by using range of 20 to 24 yards wide and 10 to 12 yards from the goal line into the field of play.  If a smaller penalty area is used then the penalty mark should be 8 to 10 yards from goal with the penalty arc still 8 yards from the penalty mark.

11-U and 12-U

  • Fields – Lengths: 70-80 yards; Width: 45-55 yards
  • Goals – Height: 6.5 ft; Width: 18.5 ft

13-U and older

  • Lengths: 100-120 yards; Width: 50-75 yards
  • Goals – Height: 8 ft ; Width: 24 ft
  • 9-U and 10-U(7v7 Play)                 5 rostered players                       1 team official
  • 11-U and 12-U (9v9 Play)              6 rostered players                       1 team official
  • 13-U and older (11v11 Play)          7 rostered players                       1 team official

All League games shall be of regulation length as follows:

  • 9-U & 10-U : two 25-minute halves
  • 11-U & 12-U |  two 30-minute halves
  • 13-U & 14-U| two 35-minute halves
  • 15-U & 16-U| two 40-minute halves
  • 17-U & 18-U| two 45-minute halves

Player substitution is permitted at any stoppage of play. Substitution protocol should follow FIFA guidelines with the exception that there will not be a limit on player substitution.

  1. Numbers

All uniforms must be numbered. Duplicate numbers on any team are not permitted. It is the home team’s (the team listed first on the schedule) responsibility to change uniforms if a color conflict arises. Pinnies which permit the underlying number to be discerned are acceptable for this purpose.

  1. Deportment

Shirts must be tucked in and socks must cover shin guards. Boxer shorts, bike shorts, jams and the like, unless of the same color as the shorts over them, must not hang below the uniform shorts

  1. Shin Guards

The use of shin guards is mandatory. A game official will exclude from play any players not so equipped.

  1. Game Ball

A suitable game ball will be provided by the home team for each game. Age groups 9-U – 12-U will use a size 4 ball; all other age groups will use size 5. Suitability of the ball is at the sole determination of a game official.

6. NSL Concussion Guidelines

NSL will follow the Concussion Guidelines as Best Practices introduced by the USSF though the comprehensive player health and safety program known as ‘Recognize to Recover’ (R2R).   NSL accepts that the R2R program will continue to expand and evolve and will carefully review and consider the R2R information, presented to-date, and in the future.  NSL will apply the following concussion guidelines recommended by USSF;

a)  NSL requires that any player who (1) sustains a significant blow to the head or body, (2) complains about or is exhibiting symptoms consistent with having suffered a concussion or (3) is otherwise suspected of having sustained a concussion, must be evaluated and cleared by a Health Care Professional (HCP) or Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) before the player will be allowed to return to practice or play (RTP).

  1. No team official or parent shall permit a player who has been removed from a game for a concussion assessment to RTP until cleared to do so by an HCP or ATC.
  2. If there is an onsite HCP or ATC they will be required to perform a SCAT3 or Child SCAT 3, as applicable and modified BESS to evaluate players on the field/sideline.
  3. Unless the on-site HCP determines that the player has not suffered a concussion, the player will not be permitted to return to play until the player has successfully completed the graduated Return To Play (“RTP) protocol
  4. If a team official seeks to allow a player who been removed from a game for a concussion assessment to RTP, the referee shall allow the player to return to the field but shall:
    1. Immediately stop play,
    2. Direct the player to leave the field of play and
    3. Direct the team official to remove the player and select a substitute.
  5. If a team official seeks to allow a player to RTP who has been removed from a game for a concussion assessment, the referee shall issue a warning to the team official. If a team official persists in seeking to allow such player to re-enter the game after having been issued a warning, the referee shall be entitled to take such other disciplinary measures as are permitted.

b)  Unless an HCP or ATC determines that the player has not suffered a concussion and clears the player to RTP, the player will not be permitted to RTP until the player has successfully completed the graduated RTP protocol and has been cleared to RTP by a physician.


a. Team Officials include coaches, assistant coaches, managers, technical directors or similarly designated individuals appointed by a club to represent a team.  ALL team officials are required to complete any and all state laws that apply to their position and standing; for example appropriate and required background checks such as the CORI certification process in MA.

b. Coaching License Requirements

All NSL Head and Assistant Coaches must have a minimum of a USSF “E” license, NSCAA Regional Diploma, or equivalent. In addition to these minimum license requirements Team Officials and NSL Head and Assistant Coaches must complete the CDC online concussion training at

c. Directors of Coaching

Each club must identify a Director of Coaching as a point of contact for the NSL Technical Director and responsible for the technical oversight of all teams and coaches within the club. The DOC must have a minimum of a USSF “D” license, NSCAA Diploma, NSCAA DOC diploma or equivalent. A copy must be provided to the NSL office with their club application

SANCTIONS FOR NON-COMPLIANCE: Sanctions may include, but not be limited to, warning, probation, suspension, fine, expulsion. It is the individual Club’s responsibility to ensure compliance. Information will be required during the registration process providing the proof of licensure.

d. Presence & Qualification

Teams must have a responsible team official present at each game, whose responsibilities shall include maintaining control and discipline over the team. A team which appears without a coach may use a responsible adult substitute with positive identification, including a driver’s license if such a person is without a pass card. In no case shall the team official or other responsible substitute be eligible by age to play in the age group which he or she is coaching or managing. If the game is conducted with an adult substitute not having a pass card, the referee shall note the person’s name, address and contact information and report this information to the League office. An adult substitute must have completed the adult registration process (CORI) of the governing body for their home state.

In addition, it is the responsibility of all coaches & managers to check the website concerning any game changes which might affect their team.

e. Conduct & Responsibility

Team officials are responsible for their own conduct, and for the conduct of their players and fans at all games. Abusive or obscene language, violent play, violent conduct or other behavior detrimental to the game will not be tolerated. Failure of a team official to control his or her players and fans may result in action against him or her by the referee and/or the League.

Team officials must remain within their team’s technical area during the course of play. This area starts 10 yards from the half-way line and is 25 yards in length. They must refrain from loud, persistent or intrusive coaching of field players. Except as noted above for a responsible substitute, only credentialed team officials (i.e., individuals with valid current League pass cards) may be on the sideline with the teams during the game. It is league policy that a maximum of four (4) teams officials, all with current pass cards (or with valid identification for a responsible substitute), may be present with each team. Parents and other spectators must remain on the opposite sideline. Failure to observe these rules will be considered behavior detrimental to the game and may be punished accordingly.

Before, during and after game, team officials will support the game officials and assist in maintain order. In any case of non-compliance, the situation will be reported by the referee to the Ethics/Disciplinary Officer.