6u is unique in that coaches serve as the referees. At 5 years old they just a need a bit more handholding so we allow coaches to be on the field with them at the beginning of the season and they can make the calls too. The format looks like:

For September (Fall) or March (Spring) games-

  • Each team can have 1 coach (head or assistant) on their (defending) side of the field. The other coaches must remain off-field on the middle of their own sideline (e.g. across from the center circle on the field)
  • Only the two (certified) coaches per team are allowed to provide coaching during the game. I.e. no “2nd” assistants or parents
  • The on-field coach can coach their team, but must stay away from play (ideally to the side) and never in or around the goal area
  • The on-field coach will call game restarts (kick-ins, goal kick, corner kicks, and goals) in their half
  • Home team coach responsible for timekeeping (see below)

For October (Fall) or April (Spring) and later games-

  • Home team will provide one coach as the referee. If you are the only coach there for your team, you can have your other certified parent (e.g. team parent) referee. Note: There still must always be one coach present at the game.
  • The referee is not allowed to coach during play
  • All coaches should remain off the field in the coaching area
For all games-
  • Two, 20 minutes halves. Quarter breaks halfway through each half, but time does not stop. Get them their new positions, a few sips of water, and back on the field. 5 minutes for halftime.
  • Resist the urge to let play continue when the ball is only slightly out of bounds. If the laws are enforced haphazardly then it causes confusion (some kids stop playing while others may continue)
  • Fouls, including handballs, are almost always accidental at this age. Please refrain from calling minor infractions and simply let them play. Calm reminders such as “watch where you kick” or “remember to play with your hands down” are typically sufficient when you notice the offending action. If you say something like “play on” when you notice something but choose not to call it, that can help parents understand that you saw what they saw and are intentionally letting play continue
  • If there is an obvious and dangerous foul you can stop play. Any foul called is an indirect free kick (ball must touch another player before going in the goal)
  • Above all else, keep the game fair and light. If you feel a game is getting a little too rough, have a calm conversation with the other coach during a break and agree to call it a bit more closely. Never get in a verbal disagreement in front of the kids and never make any negative comments to the players, especially to the other team

Other rules/guidelines for this age include:

  • The opposing team must retreat to their half of the field for goal kicks
  • The opposing team should be 8 feet away from kick-ins, corner kicks, and indirect free kicks
  • There is no offside, however cherry picking (parking a forward by the other team’s goal) is not allowed
  • Defenders must play out of the goal area unless the ball is within shooting distance. No “goalkeepers” are allowed
  • If a player deliberately uses their hands to control the ball or gain an advantage, that should be called. Reflexive/protective handling (e.g. player covers their face or body) should not be called and just call out “keep playing”
  • Zero tolerance on deliberate sliding/slide tackling, always call it and let the player know sliding is dangerous and not allowed