Over 30 Division Rules

8 v 8, small field, small goals, with goal keepers.  USSF rules, with unlimited substitutions on all goal kicks, after goals, at beginning of half, and on team's throw in.  If a team chooses to substitute on its throw-in, then both teams may.  No attacking/offensive player may enter the crease/six yard box around the goal - restart is free kick for defending team.  No slide tackles.  No offside.  1 center referee.  Shin guards are mandatory, the referee will enforce.

Over 40/30 (Anderson) Division & Women's Division Rules


8 v 8, small field, small goals, with goal keepers.  USSF rules, with unlimited substitutions on all goal kicks, after goals, at beginning of half, and on team's throw in.  If a team chooses to substitute on its throw-in, then both teams may.  No attacking/offensive player may enter the crease/six yard box around the goal - restart is free kick for defending team.  No offside.  Gentle play.  1 center referee.

Overview of Recreational League Rules

Rules in the Durham County Adult Soccer League, are adapted from USSF rules.  The adaptations are designed to either make play safer, or more suitable for the recreational (competitive but not aggressive) player.

Throughout this page, the initials IFK mean that play is restarted by an indirect free kick.  DFK means that play is restarted with a direct free kick.  If a DFK  foul occurs in a player's penalty area, then the restart is a penalty kick. 

Any player issued a yellow card (YC) may be asked by the referee to cool off on the sideline for five minutes (or any greater amount of time decided upon by the referee).  The player may be substituted during this time.  Any player issued a red card (RC) must leave the premises for the remainder of the game.  That player may be substituted for, and the player is subject to further discipline as determined by the Durham County Adult Soccer League.  Such discipline may include being banned from additional games, or being banished from further play in the league.


Substitutions are unlimited, meaning that a team is not limited to 3 per game.  Substitutions are allowed by either team at the beginning of either half, after any goal scored, or after the ball goes out for a goal kick.  If play is stopped for any reason, an injured player may be substituted. 

When the ball goes out for a throw-in, the team with possession may call for substitutions.  If that team chooses to do so, then both teams may substitute.

Substitutions are not allowed when play is stopped for a free kick (IFK or DFK) nor for corner kicks, nor for penalty kicks, except in case of an injury.

The referee may allow substitutions outside of these guidelines to maintain fairness, and to ensure player safety.

Contact and Dangerous Play 

Slide tackle of an opponent is not allowed, even if there is no contact with the opponent.  A slide tackle that results in contact with the opponent, or that causes the opponent to go to ground to avoid contact is restarted by a DFK.  If no contact results (for instance if the opponent leaps cleanly over the tackle) the restart is IFK.  As with all calls, the referee may decide to allow play to continue if it is advantageous to the fouled team.

Overly aggressive contact is not allowed.  Play that might be legal in USSF, but that harms another player, or might be expected to harm another player is not allowed.  Even if a player touches the ball first, or wins the ball, it is not permissible to do so in an overly aggressive manner.  Restart is a DFK if contact is made (or if the aggression results in the opponent going to ground), while it is an IFK if no contact is made.

Heading the Ball

Standing steady, or jumping straight up to head the ball is permitted.  Running to head a ball is permitted if no other players are nearby.  Diving to head the ball is never permitted (IFK).  Moving laterally to head a ball is not permitted, if a collision with another player occurs (DFK).  A player may not encroach on the space above another player with any body part (DFK). 

Bicycle Kicks

Any kick where the player contacts or attempts to contact the ball with his or her foot when the ball is chest high, or higher, is illegal (IFK).  If such an attempt causes contact with another player, the restart is DFK.


Keeper safety is of vital importance.  Contact initiated by an attacker with the keeper is prohibited (DFK).  If the keeper has sustained contact with the ball, then he or she is assumed to have control of the ball, and may not be challenged (DFK).  If the keeper drops the ball, or loses contact, then an attacker may play the ball, though the attacker must take care to avoid potential injury to the keeper.

Beginning in June, 2014, any foul committed by a player against the opposing goal keeper is further penalized by a yellow card for unsporting behavior.


Respect the referee.  He or she is there to keep everyone safe and to make good calls.  S/he has a different view of the play than you, so will see things that you can't.  If you disagree with a call, keep it to yourself.  Don't criticize the referee, and don't incite others to do so.  The referees are observed by the league on a regular basis and problems with individual referees are dealt with by the league.  If you really are upset about a call, substitute yourself out of the game, and cool off until your perspective returns.

Respect the other players, including both your teammates and your opponents.  Avoiding an injury is more important than scoring a goal.  Congratulate an opponent after s/he makes a good play.  Don't taunt the opponents.  Help keep your teammates in line, too.

Every player deserves the opportunity for equal playing time.  Team captains should help insure that players get their fair share.  Equal playing time may be across the whole team, or by position (all strikers share time equally, likewise outside mids, central mids, outside defenders, central defenders).  If a player chooses to play less time, that's their choice, of course.  The skill level of a player should not be a factor in determining playing time.


The designated captain may ask the referee for an explanation of any call.  The captain is expected to assist the referee in maintaining appropriate play.  The captain is encouraged to substitute out any player who seems to be losing his or her temper. 

No player may criticize the referee (YC - IFK).

Game Schedule and Standings

The DCASL team captains have decided that they prefer an unbalanced schedule where teams are matched against each other according to strength rather than a strict round-robin schedule.  Thus, as the season progresses, matchups may be changed in order to attempt to get close/competitive games and to avoid blow-outs.  That doesn't always work, but we do try.  Because of this unbalanced schedule, sometimes the best team in the league doesn't win the league.  That's the sacrifice.  At the end of the season, a champion is declared based first on total points, with the first tie breaker being head-to-head matchups.  Second tie breaker is that the league will attempt to match the tied teams in the last game of the season (if possible) with extra time played if necessary. Final tie breaker is best goal differential, counting only the games played against intra-divisional rivals.

Ringers, Guest Players, Rosters, Forfeits, etc.

The rule for using guest and ringer players is complicated, but its purpose is to be fair, while making the game enjoyable for the players in our league.  A guest is a player who is not registered with the league.  That guest must sign the release, and may play one time for a fee of $5.  A ringer is a player who is registered with the league (either on another team, or as a pickup-only player).  There is no charge for a ringer, and no limit on the number of games in which a ringer may participate.

  1. A team can use any available keeper.  The remainder of this rule applies only to field players (not keepers)
  2. A team with fewer than 6 field players from their roster at game time must forfeit.  At this point, they may bring in guests, ringers, and play for fun with referees.  The result will be recorded as a 3-0 loss.
  3. A team with 6-8 field players has a decision to make.  They may either forfeit and follow part #2 above, or they may play for a result.  If they choose to play for a result, they may only use their rostered players.  Once they get to 9 rostered field players, then part #4 applies.
  4. At team with at least 9 field players from their roster may add ringers.  There is no limit to the number of ringers used, but if any ringers are on the field, then no more than 3 (uninjured) roster players can be subbed out at any time.  The intent is that ringers should not be displacing roster players, exept to allow roster players to take customary rest breaks.
  5. A team with at least 9 field players may add as many "guests" as it wishes.  These are players who are in town for only one game, or are trying out the league, and are not subject to part #4.