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Recreation Program FAQ's

Questions regarding the Fall Recreation Program?  We're happy to help!  

I. Description of Leagues

What is the Recreation NYSA League?

NYSA (Novato Youth Soccer Association) runs an in-house recreational soccer league from grade level kindergarten through fourth grade.  Our recreation soccer teams are formed through a “guided” blind draft process that evenly distributes registered players based on school, address and rating.  The goal of recreational soccer is evenly balanced teams in terms of competitive ability.  Players of mixed skill and ability will be placed on all teams.  Recreational team coaches are in most cases volunteer parents i.e. they are not paid.  Our club provides very introductory-level coach training for all Recreation coaches, but in most cases, our Rec coaches are not officially trained and are great, outstanding volunteers in our community more than they are soccer enthusiasts.  All games and practices are held in Novato.

What is MISA?  Is it the same as Recreation soccer?

MISA stands for Marin Interleague Soccer Alliance.   It is recreational soccer.  Our Recreation level teams play in this alliance beginning with our 5th/6th grade teams all the way through our 11th/12th grade teams.  MISA provides the opportunity for our older age group Recreation teams to have a greater diversity of competition by playing against teams from other Recreational clubs in Marin.  While all Novato teams participating in MISA practice locally in Novato, the “away” games are played in towns throughout Marin County.

For more information regarding MISA, please visit their website at:

What is North Marin United?

NMU (North Marin United) is the local Novato-based competitive soccer club that is operated by NYSA.  A competitive team is a team generally formed through an open tryout process.  In many age groups, NMU fields both a top team and lower tier teams, so that even in our competitive program, players can find their appropriate level of play.  A competitive NMU team has a paid, professional coach, with appropriate licensing and experience coaching youth players.  Many of our competitive NMU coaches are also coaches of some of the highest-performing high school teams throughout Marin County.

II. Player Registration

When does Registration open for 2024 season?

Online Early-Bird Registration opens on February 21, 2024.

Is financial assistance available?

Yes, financial assistance is available for families in need.  For more information or to apply, please contact us at:

What is the volunteering commitment and what is the volunteer opt-out fee?

NYSA is a volunteer-based, non-profit organization.  Our board and AGC team are comprised of volunteer parents, and we rely on the help of our entire community of families to create a great experience for our kids.

Every child’s registration requires a volunteering commitment from a parent or legal guardian.  At the time of registration, you will be asked to state in what capacity you would like to help volunteer during the season.  There are many ways you can help our league as a volunteer:  coaching, opening day, field supervisor, volunteer coordinator, etc.  In all cases, you will added to a particular list for the type of volunteer work you selected, and you will be called upon during the season to fulfill your role. 

In lieu of volunteering, a parent or legal guardian can choose to pay a “volunteer opt-out fee” at the time of registration.  This opt-out fee is per child. 

Throughout the season, if you are scheduled to volunteer and there is a conflict, you must notify the league at least 48 hours before your scheduled volunteering time.  The league reserves the right to charge the full amount of the volunteer opt out fee to any account where the opt-out fee was waived at the time of registration, but volunteering never occurred during the season, especially when the parent or legal guardian was directly notified that their services were in need. 

How do I request a refund?

For information on our refund policy for the 2024 season, please click here.  If you would like to submit a refund request, please contact us at:

What happens if I pay to register my child for the Recreation league but they try out and make it on a competitive North Marin United team roster?

Paid registration fees for our Recreation league for a player that is selected to be on one of our competitive team rosters will be refunded in full.  In all cases, a player can only be registered for one or the other, either play on a Recreational NYSA team or a competitive North Marin United team.

If you are considering having your child try out for a North Marin United team, we encourage you to first register for the Recreation league during our open Recreation registration period.  NMU tryouts occur after our Recreation league registration closes.  By registering your child for Recreation soccer, you will be ensuring that your child has an opportunity to play soccer in the event that they do not make an NMU team roster.   

What is the refund policy for camps, academies and clinics?

NYSA does not, under any circumstances, issues credits for refunds for fees paid to participate in our camps, academies or clinics.

Is my child guaranteed placement on an NYSA Recreation team if I register them?

In almost all cases, with regard to our Kindergarten through 7th/8th grade divisions, only players that are registered by May 7, 2024 can be guaranteed placement on a team.  

If we do not have enough volunteer parents to coach all of the teams in a particular division, there may be some instances where we cannot field a team and rosters will be created on a “first registered, first served” basis.  In this case, if your child is not placed on a team (even though you registered prior to May 7, 2024), you will be refunded 100% of your registration fees.

With regard to our 9th/10th and 11th/12th grade divisions, rosters in some cases will be limited to a certain size.  If the capped roster size is reached prior to May 7, 2024, the registration for these age groups may be closed prior to the end of open registration; at which point newly registered players for will be placed on the waitlist. 

If space is not available to register in your age group please complete the Waitlist Registration at:

If space becomes available  you will be contacted with the opportunity to register for the season.  

Families are contacted in the order that the waitlist request is received.


Can my player “play down” an age group or level?

We do not allow players to “play down” an age level.

Can my player “play up” an age group or level?

In incredibly rare instances, players may be permitted to “play up” an age group or level.  Play ups will not be permitted at our mixed age levels starting with 3rd/4th grade.  If you are interested in having your child “play up”, please notify our Director of Rec who will decide whether or not to set up a field evaluation of your child by qualified professionals.  In most cases, the field evaluation will not be granted and the request denied.  If you feel that your child’s skill greatly exceeds the level of play within their recreational age group, we suggest that you have your child try out for our North Marin United competitive league.

III. Team Formation

How are teams formed?

The process used to form the teams is by blind draft, with consideration given to three different determinants:  (1) school attending; (2) neighborhood zone; and (3) player ranking.

(1) School attending – the NYSA team formation process endeavors to place kids on teams with schoolmates.  However, the goal of competitive fairness outweighs schoolmates playing together.  If there is a large registration turnout from one school, we cannot place all of those students on one team.  In this case, we will do our best to fairly and evenly distribute players from this school between certain teams.

(2) Neighborhood zone – the NYSA team formation process endeavors to keep players from the same Novato neighborhood playing together.  In the event that there are too many players from a single neighborhood or area to be placed on a single team, we will do what we can to fairly distribute these players between a certain number of teams.  In all cases, competitive fairness will continue to be a main determining factor in team roster formation. 

3) Player Evaluation – at the end of every season, we ask our head coaches to provide a player evaluation for each player on their roster.  Players are given a rating between 1-4, with one meaning an advanced player and 4 being an introductory player.   In striving to create competitive balance in our league, we endeavor to balance out equally skilled players when forming our team rosters.

How does having mixed age groups at the upper Recreation levels effect team formation?

With regard to our mixed age group teams, we do our best to evenly divide upper age group and lower age group players between those teams.  This is not always possible given that an even age group distribution can be at odds with the three determinants used in the blind draft. 

Are teams co-ed?

Only our Pre-K division are coed teams.  Kindergarten - High School teams are divided into boys and girls teams  exclusively.

Will requests to have my child placed on a team with a particular coach or with other children be accommodated?

Special requests for player placement on a certain team, with a certain coach, or with a certain set of players will not be accommodated.

Because of the size of the Recreation division (1100 players), the league is unable to accommodate any coach, team, practice schedule, carpool or after school care requests.  The only way to guarantee placement on a specific team is to be part of the coaching staff (two coaches per team).  We are unable to accommodate requests to play with specific players or coaches, for whatever reason. 

Every year we receive requests to have players placed on the same team for carpooling reasons.   While we completely understand the convenience of carpooling, we put a lot of time into forming our rosters striving for competitive balance, and we cannot accommodate any requests for specific team placement.  If we were to accept requests, it would be impossible to maintain the integrity of our team formation process.  

Can I request a certain day or time for my child’s practices?

Unfortunately, we will not accommodate such requests.  With over 1100, it would be physically impossible to address individual scheduling needs of everyone.

If my child is placed on a team whose coach has chosen a practice schedule that doesn’t work with my family schedule (whether work-related or other conflicting commitments), will requests be accommodated to have my player placed on a different team with a practice schedule that works better?

Players will not be permitted to switch rosters for the reason of the team’s practice schedule not working out with a family’s schedule.

Practices may start at 4 pm, 5 pm or 6 pm and run an hour long.  The coach will decide the practice time.  When you register your player, you must be prepared to have your child practice at any of these times. 

In no case may a coach (or a family) arrange a roster change of a player from one team to another without NYSA approval.  The rosters formed by the league are final.

IV. Season Details - Practice & Game Information

Who will be coaching my child’s Recreation team?

Hopefully You!  Our coaches are for the most part volunteer parents who do an incredible job of offering their time and energy to our program and our community, and we cannot thank them enough.

It’s always a plus to have some experience with the game of soccer as a coach, it is by no means a requirement.  At the Recreational level, we prioritize that our coaches create a fun environment of play for the players on the team, emphasize playing time equity over winning, and keep our kids active. 

While we certainly provide some basic training to our coaches, many of our Recreational coaches are learning the game even as they are teaching it to your child.

If you are interested in a more professional level of coaching for your child, we suggest that you look into our North Marin United competitive program.

When will I find out which team my child is on and when they practice?

We strive to send out the rosters to our volunteer coaches for all grade levels sometime in late July.  Your child’s coach will contact you with season details (including the team’s practice schedule) by the first week of August. 

The game schedule generally is not posted until after team rosters are distributed, and usually is not included in the coach’s initial introductory email to the team’s families.

When do practices start?

Team practices will begin mid-August.  Practices are held twice a week.  Teams will either practice on Mondays and Wednesdays; or Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Available practice time slots for all ages are 4 pm-5 pm, 5 pm-6 pm, and 6 pm-7 pm.  The coaches of the team will pick the practice days and time slots, as well as location.

Where are practices held?

Because of the large size of our club, we use fields located at schools and city facilities throughout all of Novato.

Who maintains the fields?

Novato Youth Soccer Association is a non profit 501(c)(3) organization that rents field time for games, practices, trainings, or events respectively from the Novato Unified School District, the City of Novato, and the Dixie Unified School District.

While the Novato Youth Soccer Association works diligently to ensure field safety, the respective field owners are responsible for field maintenance, and ultimately field safety. In the event that you have concerns about field safety, please contact NYSA and we can assist in providing the information needed to file your complaint with the respective field owner.

What does my child need for practices?

Your child will need shin guards, socks to cover them, soccer cleats and a soccer ball that is sized appropriately for their age.  Please see the “General Guidelines” page in the Coaches’ Corner on our website to find out ball size.

In addition to this soccer gear, they will also need a water bottle at practice.

For attire, players may wear comfortable clothing.

It is important to remember that shin guards and soccer cleats are required for practices as well as games.

When will I find out the team’s game schedule?

The Recreation game schedule for grades Kindergarten through 3rd/4th is typically posted within the first two weeks of August.

While waiting patiently for the schedule to be posted, please remember that, with over 1100 players, the NYSA Rec league is the largest youth sports organization in Novato.  Creating the schedule takes time! 

Our recreational games are scheduled on both Saturdays and Sundays.  There will be some weekends when your team will play on both Saturday and Sunday.

The MISA schedule (5th-12th grade) is not created by NYSA, but rather by the MISA administrator who works hard to take into consideration all the various factors for each club influencing the overall schedule.   Because there are many more factors that go into organizing the MISA schedule, the MISA game schedule takes even more time to get posted!

Generally, the MISA game schedule for High School teams is posted on or before Aug 15.

The MISA game schedule for 5th/6th & 7th/8th is typically posted on or before Aug 25.

When do games begin?

NYSA Rec league games (K through 3rd/4th Grade) begin the last weekend in August.

MISA games (5th/6th through 7th/8th Grade) begin the 2nd weekend in September, (the weekend after Labor Day weekend).

MISA games (High School) typically begin the last weekend in August. (the weekend before Labor Day weekend).

For all Rec teams, NYSA and MISA, the Labor Day weekend is an off weekend on which no games will be played.

How long is the season?

The season usually closes for our Kindergarten through 2nd grade divisions the 3rd weekend of October, but sometimes will extend to the last weekend of October in the event that there are make-up games due to rain. 

For our 3rd-4th grade divisions, the season is over by early November.  Regular season games for this division conclude on the third weekend of October.  The End of Season Tournament first round takes place on the last week of October, which will be the final weekend of play for most teams.  All teams participate in the first round. Some teams will play in the final rounds of the End of Season tournament, which are held the first weekend in November.  If there are cancellations due to rain, the tournament may extend to the 2nd weekend of November.

For our 5th/6th grade through High School MISA divisions, the regular season concludes the third weekend of October.  The End of Season tournament for these divisions begins the last weekend of October and extends into early November.  If there are cancellations due to train, the tournament could extend to the 2nd weekend of November.

Can I make a request to change my team’s game schedule or to change teams if I have prior obligations or conflicts that may result in missing games?

Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate request to change teams or change the game schedule.  NYSA carefully and thoughtfully has discussed as a board the many conflicts that may arise during the season for players, families, and coaches. This may include academic (school), religious, and other athletic obligations.  It may also include special family parties, trips, and other events that hold a tremendous amount of importance for our players, families, and coaches.

While we certainly respect that your family may have other obligations that cause you to miss a training or game, due to limited fields, the possibility of inclement weather and field closures which shorten the season window, and with nearly 1100 players participating each weekend, we cannot make changes to the schedule.

Again, we respect your need to miss a youth sports game, understanding that each family should determine their priorities with respect to the soccer season!

Who referees the games?

All Kindergarten through 2nd grade division games are refereed by a registered coach from each team.  We ask that there are only two coach-referees on the field at a time.  The role of the coach referee is to maintain the safety of the game first; and instruct their team second. 

Our 3rd/4th grade division is the first age group where licensed referees call the game.  Typically, the referees hired for theses games are our younger game officials who are just starting out on their refereeing path.  We do everything we can to have two referees work each game, but due to a local shortage of referees, there will be games where there is only one referee.  Please keep this shortage in mind, and consider the potential underlying causes of the shortage, and in all cases have tremendous respect for our referees, especially the younger ones!

Our 5th/6th grade through High School division games are called by licensed referees.  MISA does everything it can to have a main referee and two assistant referees work each game, but in many cases there will only be two referees working together.

Will referees calling a youth soccer game make mistakes?

Yes, referees calling a youth soccer game will make some mistakes, just like anyone. 

Too often, players, coaches, and fans alike expect our youth referees to be officiating robots making flawless decisions when in many cases they are young kids learning their job.  A youth referee can call a great game and none of it is appreciated, and maybe make one call that is questionable and that is all some folks can think about.   When really we should go into the games with a mindset that there will be some referee decision mistakes, because they will make mistakes, just as our youth players will make some questionable tactical or technical decisions during the game. After all this is a recreational league with an emphasis on development; and not the World Cup.

When it comes to youth soccer especially, we need players, coaches, and fans to offer more leniency, understanding, and respect for referees. Professional players play in professional games officiated by professional referees. Developing youth players play in youth games officiated by developing referees. Verbal and physical dissent of referee decisions is disrespectful, unacceptable behavior, and offers no positive rewards. Players, coaches, and fans should be more concerned with what they can control than what they cannot control. We cannot control referee decisions but we can control our ability to respect, cope, and play through the decisions of the referee. 

In all situations, coaches and parents have a responsibility to teach our children the importance of being respectful to a person in authority, and in a soccer game, the referee is that person; regardless whether it is a 13-year old or a seasoned professional.

V. NYSA Uniform and Equipment

What is the NYSA uniform policy for games?

All players are required to wear the official NYSA uniform for all league games.  The uniform consists of an NYSA jersey, shorts and socks.  Shin guards and soccer cleats are also required.

Socks must be pulled up to cover the entire shin guard.  Players not attired in the proper uniform will not be allowed to play, until properly dressed.

Additional clothing (such as sweatshirts or long pants) will not be allowed to be worn over the uniform while is player is participating in the game.  Hooded shirts are not allowed to be worn under the uniform.

Where can I purchase the NYSA uniform?

Please contact the league for the most recent information at:

Can my child wear baseball cleats or flat-soled sneakers to games or practices?

No, sneakers and cleats designed for sports other than soccer are not allowed as footwear for games or practices.  Baseball and some football cleats have an additional spike on the toe of the shoe, which can be very dangerous to others.  Sneakers do not offer the traction, or the support of a soccer cleat, which in turn can lead to injury during play.

Can my child wear jewelry?

Jewelry of any kind is not allowed.  Nor is a player permitted to wear anything that is dangerous to any player (including themselves).  This includes, but is not limited to, rings, bracelets, watches, necklaces and earrings.  Earrings must be removed for participation.  Players may not tape or place a band-aid over the earring in order to play.  Referees may refuse to permit other items not listed here if, in their opinion, those items are determined to be dangerous to any player.

What do I need to bring to all games?

NYSA uniform (including jersey, shorts, & socks), soccer cleats, shin guards, and water bottle.

If my child has a medical stabilizer or cast, can they still participate in practices or games?

No, if your child has medical stabilizer or cast, they are not allowed to participate in practices or games.  This includes hard casts, splints, and soft braces.

Can my child participate in games and practices if they wear eyeglasses?

Yes, but only if the eyeglasses have a plastic frame.  Metal rims are not allowed.  Sunglasses are not allowed.  Retaining straps are required.  Safety or sport-type goggles or glasses are strongly encouraged. 

VI. Volunteer Coaching

Where can I find information about what is involved in being a Rec coach?

We have a great overview of what to expect as a NYSA Rec coach that is available on the website  Please go to the “Recreational” menu, select “Coaches Corner” in the pull-down, and then select “Coaching Guide”.

Can I sign up to be a volunteer Rec coach when I am registering my kid(s) to be play?

Yes, in fact, the best way to sign up to be a volunteer Rec coach is to do it when you are registering your son(s) or daughter(s) for the upcoming season.  During the registration process, you will be asked if you want to volunteer or pay the volunteer opt-out fee.  If you select volunteer, you can sign up at this time to either be a head coach or an assistant coach.  You will also be given the option of specifying who you would like to coach with.  If you don’t have anyone in mind, no problem, just say that you don’t have a coaching partner and we will help pair you with one for support.

Remember, only two coaches can be assigned to a single team.

How do I register to be a volunteer Rec coach if I decide to coach AFTER I have completed the process of registering my kid(s) for the upcoming season?

Please contact the Age Group Coordinator that corresponds with your child's age group.  They will assist you with your request to coach.   A complete list of our Age Group Coordinators can be found on our NYSA Board Members page at:

What is required to be a coach?

After you sign up to coach, your volunteer registration will be reviewed by NYSA.   Once approved, an Age Group Coordinator will contact you confirming your registration to make sure all of your information is correct in our system.  Please respond as soon as possible to the AGC email so that we can get you started with the coach background clearance process.

In addition, NYSA requests that all coaches attend a couple important events.  First, we hold a coach-training clinic in early August that is an excellent opportunity to learn from some of our North Marin United coaches.  The focus of this training is developing practice strategies to keep your players engaged and having fun.  The coach instructors, as well as NYSA board members, are available during this clinic for any questions that you might have.

What does the coaches background clearance consist of?

Please contact our league administrator for details.

What type of support is available to the coaches?

Communication channels are always open for our coaches.  If you have a question about how to run a practice or how to interpret a rule, please get in contact with your Age Group Coordinator who will direct you to the right place to get support.

Beginning with the coach-training clinic, we have an incredible resource in our North Marin United coaches who can provide suggestions for both practice and game-day management.  The coach-training clinic itself is a great time to come prepared with questions and to take some notes that will elevate your coaching awareness and your season.

Lastly, we have a database containing a season’s worth of practice plans specific to each age group.  On our website you can find the practice plans on a page called “Practice Plans” in the Coaches Corner which is located in the “Recreational” pulldown menu.  These plans are available in the form of downloadable PDFs.  You can either follow an entire practice plan, or you can pull only the certain drills from a plan that you think will work with your team.  Either way, it’s an awesome resource for our coaches and one that should make coaching easier even for the volunteer parent who is new to soccer.  Here is a link to our practice plans:

Do I have to “know” soccer in order to be a coach?

No, in fact, many of our coaches volunteer for the love of helping out in the community and being with their kids, and not necessarily for the love of the game.  Recreational soccer is about fun and play and learning how to be a teammate.  While we certainly have many coaches who have played before and even at high levels, we also have others who haven’t ever played, or who haven’t kicked a ball in 40 years. 

If you want to spend great quality time with your child, don’t let anything stop you, including the concern that you don’t “know” soccer.  We will support you in every way.

What if I want to coach, but do not have anyone to coach with?

If you want to coach and do not have a specific person in mind to coach with or be your assistant, no problem, our AGCs and the VP of Recreation will help pair you with another registered coach who also does not have a coaching partner.  We will do our best to pair you with someone from your child’s school or at least from your part of town to make practice location convenient.

We have approximately 90 teams each year participating in both the NYSA in-house Rec league and MISA.  But we pride ourselves in finding 180 coaches because we believe that the coach of every team needs support in the way of an assistant coach or co-coach.  In order to make this happen, a large number of our teams every year are managed by two coaches who are meeting each other for the first time on the first day of practice!  And the cool thing is that in many of these cases, these two coaches go on to coach together for many successful seasons.

So if you want to coach but don’t have a partner, please let us know and we will initiate the coach pairing process.

Can I coach more than one team?

Yes, you can coach more than one team.  If you are coaching more than one team, please make us aware of this in advance so that we can take this into consideration when generating the game schedule.  We cannot guarantee that there will not be some conflicts, but we will do our best to accommodate.  In the event that there is a game schedule conflict, your assistant coach will assume game day manager responsibilities. 

As a coach, can I make requests so that the game schedule works well with my own schedule or the schedule of my team’s players?

Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate any requests made by coaches that would affect the schedule or that will result in a change to the final schedule created by the league.  This is true for any reason, including business travel or limited coach and/or player availability on either Saturdays or Sundays.  Every year, coaches have certain conflicts, and every year the coaches always find ways to make it work.   

What equipment do I need as a coach?

NYSA provides a bag of three balls and cones that you can use for games and practices.  These are the basics required to hold a practice.  Beyond this gear, you can consider acquiring a whistle, some practice jerseys or even a dry erase board to really look like a coach. 

As a ref coach on the field during the games for the younger Rec divisions, what is expected of me?

Everybody has their own style when ref-coaching on the field.  The first priority is always the safety of the players, followed closely by good sportsmanship and making sure the kids are having fun. 

It’s always a great idea to introduce oneself to the other coach before the game; and set the tone from the start for a friendly game.  After all, when you are on the field you should prioritize calling the game together; and not coaching against each other.

Kids want to have fun; and that means keep the play going as best as you can.  Certainly, stop play if you see some unnecessary rough action and want to communicate to a player the importance of playing safe and under control.  But, for the most part, try to keep the play going which means letting some things go like inadvertent handballs and limiting the use of the whistle. 

It is important to call the game evenly for both teams.  If you are calling something during a goal-scoring opportunity for the other team, make sure it is something you would call when your team is in a similar situation. 

While we want education of our young, developing players to continue during games, try to limit overt coaching while you are ref-coaching.  For instance, instead of shouting “Shoot! Shoot! Score! Score!” every time one of your players has the ball in the box, you can let the kids make their own decisions during play; and then after a stoppage, call the player over & make suggestion to a player like “Hey, when you have the ball in this area of the field, take a shot instead of dribbling too much.”  Limited overt coaching will lead to a better, more fun experience for the players, and for both coaches.

Lastly, we don’t expect our Rec coaches to call a game like a trained official.  If you didn’t see something in the run of play, it’s completely ok to ask the other coach what they saw.  Once again, the idea is that the two coaches are working together on the field calling the game; and not coaching against each other.

Are coaches responsible for setting up and breaking down the fields on game day?

Yes, on game day, the coaches of the two teams playing in the first game of the day are responsible for setting up the field and the coaches of the two teams playing in the last game of the day are responsible for breaking down the field.

For most fields, setup involves moving the goal frames into location and attaching the net.  The goal frames should be staked to the ground to prevent tipping over.  Field setup also involves placing corner flags.

Field breakdown involves moving all equipment back to the equipment storage area for the particular field.  Nets, corner flags, stakes, hammer, etc. should all be locked up in the job box that is located at each game site.  The goal frames should be moved back to the storage area after the games are over and chained up.

Please look at the comprehensive game schedule before each game to know if you are the first or last game of the day.

Please allow approximately 20-30 minutes to perform these tasks.  For example, if you are first up that day & have field setup responsibility, you should plan on arriving 20-30 minutes before you have asked your team to arrive for warm-ups to give you enough time.  You can also ask parents on the team to help with field setup or breakdown.

VII. Recreational Soccer Game Rules & Guidelines


Are there basic guidelines for the Rules of Play for each age group?

Yes, on our website you can find a page called “General Guidelines” in the Coaches Corner which is located in the “Recreational” pulldown menu.  The general guidelines contain basic information about the rules for each age group, as well as important things to know like duration of game, amount of players on the field, and ball size used for each level of play.

What are the guidelines for playing time in the NYSA Recreational league?

All players must play in at least 50% of the game, unless injured.  In the spirit of Recreation soccer, we encourage that our coaches emphasize something close to equal playing time over winning, especially in our younger age groups.

Is there an End of Season tournament?

From Kindergarten to 2nd grade, we do not keep score in the games, or record wins and losses.  Beginning in our 3rd/4th grade division, and through our High School divisions, each team will participate in an End of Season tournament, irrespective of record. 

What the rules around heading the ball in Recreational soccer?

Over the past few years, there has been an increased awareness regarding concussions and youth soccer players heading the soccer ball.  NYSA is vested in creating a safe environment for our players. NYSA has adopted the following policy with respect to the education and action of heading the soccer ball.

NYSA mandates that no player participating in the NYSA fall recreational league 5th/6th grade division or below shall be taught by a coach to head the ball, or even attempt to head the ball on their own volition.  This rule will be in place at all times, including practices and games.  All coaches shall educate their players regarding the rule that heading the ball is not permitted at their respective age.

Regardless of a player’s age, a parent may elect to forbid their player from heading the soccer ball.  In all cases, a player’s playing time will not be impacted, and the coach will fully support the family decision.

Heading is permitted in our 7th/8th grade division or above.  NYSA mandates that at the discretion of the player’s family, a player participating in the 7th/8th grade division or above may use his or her head to make contact and re-direct the soccer ball.  Coaches may elect to educate their players on the proper technique to make contact and re-direct the soccer ball with a player’s head.   However, in all cases, it is ultimately up to the family’s determination if a player shall head the ball, at any age level.

What is the Safety Box that is implemented in the Kindergarten and First Grade divisions?

The "Safety Box" is an area in front of the goal that is intended to keep our younger goalies protected while retrieving the ball.

The Safety Box is marked on the field and it is as wide as the goal and comes out approximately 3 feet. 

If the goalie is inside this box, players from the opposing team are not allowed to enter the box to make a play on the ball i.e. attempt to kick the ball into the net or even try to make a pass to a teammate.  The goalie may safely retrieve the ball in this area unchallenged by players from the other team.  If a player from the opposing team enters the box when the goalie is there, the result will be a goal kick, including if a goal is scored as a result of the opposing player entering the "Safety Box". 

If the goalie leaves the box, say to make a play on the ball anywhere inside the 18 yard box, then any player from the opposing team may enter the "Safety Box" to make a play on the ball.

In all cases, if the goalie has possession of the ball ANYWHERE inside the 18 yard box, and this can mean simply having both hands on the ball or having the ball between a finger and the ground or body, we ask that our coaches use either whistle or voice to stop the play in order to protect our young goalies.  Please err on the side of caution in these instances.  Anticipate that there is going to be a challenge for the ball in close proximity to the goalie and be ready to stop play.  

We understand that there is some nuance to this rule and that not every player will pick up on it from the get-go.  A lot of this is about player education.  Remind your players that when the goalie has control of the ball, whether in the "Safety Box" or anywhere in the 18 yard box, that they stop their kicking motion immediately and let the goalie have it.  Then instruct the attacking players to return to the appropriate space so that the goal keeper can resume play. 

We understand that it is very exciting to be so close to scoring a goal, however our objective is to teach our players about safe entry and goal scoring, all while considering the safety of the goal keeper which is of primary importance.

What are rules around “Playing Out from the Back” that are implemented in the Kindergarten through 3rd/4th Grade divisions?

The “Playing Out from the Back” rules are in place to ensure that our players remain safe, while having a great time participating with their teammates on the soccer field. 

The most important interpretation of the new rules is that when either the goalie has the ball or during goal kick situations, the team without the ball must immediately begin retreating back to their own side of the centerline.  The team without the ball is now the “defending” team.  Once the defending team is on their own side of the centerline, the “defending” team cannot go over the centerline to “try to win the ball back” until either the goalie distributes the ball or the goal kick is taken.  

Furthermore, the goalie or the player taking the goal kick has the option of “playing quickly”, i.e. distributing the ball or taking the goal kick before the “defending” team has fully retreated to its own side of the centerline.  In this case, the “defending” team does not need to continue moving to its own side of the centerline, but can immediately begin pressuring the ball to gain possession.      

As the “Playing Out from the Back” rules change the way the game is played for our younger ages, NYSA has worked to clearly explain and identify the newly created policies below. 

US Club Soccer has mandated that starting this season, a goalkeeper, once they have received the ball and picked it up, will no longer “punt” or “drop-kick” the soccer ball in the air.  At the same time, when the goalkeeper has gained possession of the ball, the opposing team must retreat beyond the center line to the side of the field they are defending.

At the goalie’s discretion, the goalkeeper may wait for the opposing team to retreat beyond the center line, at which time the goalkeeper can roll or throw the ball to one of his teammates so that they may start play.  The goalie is also permitted to put the ball on the ground and either pass the ball to a teammate or even dribble.  

The goalkeeper may also play quickly at his or her own discretion, before all of the opposing team has retreated behind the center line, however the ball must be rolled, thrown or placed on the ground and passed to his or her own teammate rather than punted through the air. 

If the goalkeeper “punts” or “kicks” the ball, the referee shall stop play, and the goalkeeper will be given a second opportunity to start play according to the rules following the opponent’s retreating behind the center line.  The opposing team can begin attacking as soon as the goalie has put the ball in play. 

In all cases, the opposing team should retreat behind the center line quickly to ensure that the pace of play is maintained at a reasonable level. Coaches shall not delay their team’s retreat as a stall or time-wasting tactic, and the referee at his or her discretion may add additional time if he or she feels that the retreating team’s coach is stalling. 

During a goal kick, the opposing team shall retreat behind the center line. The team taking the goal kick shall place the ball at the top of the goalie box (a.k.a. 18 yard box). It is intended that the player taking the kick shall start play by passing the ball to his or her teammate. 

Heading the ball is not allowed, and youth soccer players should not be coached in trainings or games to head the ball.  At the referee’s discretion, he or she may stop play and issue an in-direct free kick to the opposing team, in the event that a player heads the ball, or uses his or her head to direct, or re-direct the soccer ball. 

For 3rd/4th grade divisions, the referees will for the most part implement these new rules, but please continue to direct your players during the game back towards the center line when the opposing goalie has the ball or on a goal kick.  This will especially help with pace of play.

For K through 2nd, don’t hesitate to talk to the other coach prior to the game about the “Playing Out from the Back” rules and how you plan to call them.  Remember, this is a big change to the game and not everyone’s going to interpret the rules the same right from the start.  

Thank you in advance for your support and concern for our players’ safety, and their on-field experience!