As its name suggests, indoor soccer is soccer played indoors rather than outdoors.
This means you can play the game all year round, regardless of the weather outside.
However, you will find that this means it’s usually played in a walled area with limited space.
Because of this limitation, indoor soccer plays differently than the normal outdoor version, and therefore different rules apply.
Generally, indoor soccer follows most of the same rules as outdoor soccer, with a few differences. However, the game has no universally accepted rules, as there is no central governing body. Instead, each league plays by its own rules.
Indoor soccer modifies the rules of outdoor soccer to fit its smaller pitch. As such, it usually consists of two five-to-seven-player teams trying to score goals against each other on a synthetic carpet or turf.
By reading further, I will show you the rules of indoor soccer as devised by the U.S. Indoor Sports Association, the most common ruleset in America.
The Official Rules of Indoor Soccer
Indoor soccer is a fun, physically rigorous sport that lets you play soccer in any weather.
It also works as a great development tool for anyone who wants to learn and excel in soccer. However, you shouldn’t confuse it with other versions of soccer you play indoors, such as Futsal and five-a-side.
Check out my article – The Difference Between Indoor Soccer and Futsal – for more info on this topic.
With that said, the game plays a lot like its outdoor cousin. There are some significant differences, though.
You play indoor soccer on a smaller field with artificial turf that is surrounded by boards. It is similar to a hockey rink with grass. Other major differences revolve around playing techniques and rules that take advantage of the indoor field.
I mentioned before that indoor soccer has no universal ruleset. However, most leagues use a variant of one of the following rules:
The USIA rules are the most common rules for indoor soccer in America and will be the rules we will cover here.
However, the WMF is more popular among international and professional leagues. Luckily, both rulesets are similar, with only minor differences in the size and shape of the ball and field.
Indoor Soccer Ball
Indoor soccer uses normal regulation outdoor soccer balls.
Leagues for children 12 and under use a standard-size four ball. Every other age group uses a size 5. Because of this, indoor soccer balls are between 27 and 28 inches in diameter and weigh between 14 and 16 ounces.
Only the referees can manage the ball throughout the duration of a game. As such, the team or person supplying the balls must present all game balls to the referees before each game and retrieve them after. Neither team can switch out the ball without the consent of the referee.
Check out the history of the soccer ball in my article – History of the Soccer Ball from Origins to Modern Day.
Indoor Soccer Field Rules and Regulations
Now that you know about the rules for the soccer ball itself, what about the field?
An indoor soccer field must be between 140 and 210 feet long and 60 to 90 feet wide. The recommended dimensions are 200 feet by 85 feet.
Fortunately, most regulation hockey rinks and basketball courts will fit these dimensions, provided the corners are rounded off with a 28-foot radius.
Perimeter Wall and Playing Area
Many aspects go into the perimeter wall and indoor soccer field playing area.
A 4 to 12-foot perimeter wall must enclose an indoor soccer field. The playing area must have an artificial turf floor. Most of the wall should be around 6 to 8 feet high, with the area in front of the team benches (4 feet high) and the goal (2 feet above the crossbar) being the exceptions.
Indoor soccer uses all the traditional lines and markings from the outdoor game. These include the following:
- Half-way line
- Center circle and center mark
- Goalkeeper areas
- Penalty arches
- Corner arches
However, these lines and markings must be adjusted to fit the smaller field.
For instance, the lines are 4 inches wide with 9-inch penalty marks and a 15-foot center circle.
Other indoor soccer field line adjustments include:
- All side markings must be within 3 feet of the wall.
- All lines stretch from wall to wall and must go up the wall
- A restart line connects the two restart markings on either side of the center
- Flags and other signage must be placed on top of the wall near their corresponding locations
A touchline, consisting of 3-foot dashes separated by a foot of space, must run the length of the wall.
Team Benches and Penalty Area
The benches for the teams must be on the same side of the field but on different sides of the halfway line. These benches must be reasonably separated and protected from each other and spectators.
Each team should have a penalty area situated across from their bench on their sides of the referee crease. A 15-foot semicircular referee crease must surround the center point on the opposite side from the team benches.
Although, you can move the crease close to the official scorer’s table as needed.
Goals are embedded into the walls on either end of the field.
They consist of two goalposts that stand 6 to 7 feet on either side of the center of the wall. A horizontal crossbar connects the goalposts about 8 feet above the ground.
Together, they serve as attachments for the net that extend about 5 feet behind the goalposts and wall. A goal line marks the wall gap to denote the goal’s edge.
Indoor Soccer Players and Personnel Rules
The following rules define the number of active players, officials, and team personnel required for a game of indoor soccer.
Team Size and Player Positions
An indoor soccer game requires two teams of up to 18 eligible players each. But not all of these can play at once.
An indoor soccer team consists of 5 to 7 players on the field at any given time. This number includes the goalkeeper.
However, a few leagues only allow four active players per side. In this circumstance, each team can only have up to 2 non-player members, including at least one adult if it’s a youth league.
The specific number of players permitted will depend on the league.
The active players have one of these assigned roles:
- Goalkeeper or goalie
- Defender – 2 players – defensive players
- Forward – 2 players – offensive players
- Midfielder – 1 player – center and can play offensively or defensively
Except for the goalie, these roles are more guidelines than rules. Every player can play offensive or defensive, depending on the situation.
Check out my article – Indoor Soccer Positions Explained: Roles and Responsibilities – for more information.
Both teams have unlimited substitutions except during overtime.
Substitute players may stand on the field of play but must remain outside the touchline until the relieved player crosses the line. They also cannot touch the ball until the substitution is complete.
Substitutions that occur during a play stoppage can occur anywhere on the field.
Every player, except the goalies, must wear their team’s uniform consisting of a few things.
- Team jersey of the same color and style with their number on the back
- Appropriate indoor artificial turf footwear
- Shorts and socks
- Shin guards
The goalies wear similar gear, except that their jerseys must be a different color to distinguish them from the other players.
While not required, goalies can also wear gloves and pants instead of shorts, along with appropriate headgear.
Referees and Game Officials
All valid games of indoor soccer have one league-approved referee who manages the game and the rules.
However, some leagues may also require the following:
- An assistant referee
- A secondary floor referee
- A timekeeper
The referee’s decisions are final, though he or she can change the decision before the game restarts.
Game Clock and Duration of Play
Now, let’s get into the rules for the duration of play.
Professional indoor soccer games last for 60 minutes, split into 15-minute quarters. However, many league rules only require games to be 44 minutes long with 22-minute halves. They only require a 2-minute half-time, but professional leagues use 15-minute halftimes with 3-minute quarter breaks.
The game clock runs continuously through each half or overtime period unless there is an unusual game delay.
Otherwise, the referee decides when and where the clock stops and restarts and may adjust the clock as needed to permit:
- Penalty kicks
- or correct clock malfunctions
If the facility permits, the scoreboard may display a game clock showing the official time and any penalties.
Overtime and Tiebreakers
What about the rules for when an indoor soccer game is tied?
When indoor soccer games are tied at the end of the regulation period, they will have a “sudden death” overtime period that is 10 minutes long for amateur leagues and 15 minutes for professional games.
During these periods, the first goal wins the game.
Leagues may allow a shootout tiebreaker or a penalty shootout if the game remains tied after overtime.
Game Start and Restart
All gameplay begins with a kickoff from the center mark at the start of each half and after a goal.
Overtime periods use a referee-dropped ball.
All players must remain on their half of the field and outside the center circle until the ball enters play. Only the assigned kickoff players are allowed in the center circle.
During the first kickoff, both teams can vie for the ball. However, the referee can choose which team gets the ball first instead.
In these games, the other team chooses which side of the field to defend. After that, the opposing team gets the kickoff after each goal.
For the second-half kickoff, the teams switch sides, and the team that lost the first kickoff gets the ball.
For defensive restarts, the goalie may throw the ball or kick it back into play.
All other restarts can be a kickoff, dropped ball, or a free kick, as determined by the referee. Otherwise, indoor soccer plays like an outdoor game.
Game Stops and Out of Bounds
Due to the indoor nature of the sport, there is no “out of bounds” in indoor soccer unless the ball travels over the wall into the spectators.
The wall boards are considered “in play,” and players can freely bounce the ball off them. The game only stops when a goal is scored, the referee signals the end of the play, or enforces a rule violation. The referee can also pause the game to deal with an injured player.
If the ball goes out of bounds, the ball switches teams, and the game restarts where the ball went over the wall.
Game Play Fouls, Penalties, and Violations
Indoor soccer is like the outdoor version of the game in most aspects. Players cannot touch the ball with their hands or arms.
They also cannot unreasonably delay the game.
Any of the following violations of these rules will draw a penalty or foul in indoor soccer:
- Kicking, tackling, tripping, pushing, or hitting another player
- Holding, interfering with another player, or other unsportsmanlike behaviors
- Handling the ball when not the goalie or taking the ball outside the penalty area
- Preventing the goalie from releasing the ball
- Illegal substitution
- Equipment malfunction
- Interfering with a free kick by entering the protected zone
- Abusing or ignoring the rulings of the referee and other game officials
- Delaying the game
Committing these violations can result in losing the ball or giving the opposing team a free kick.
Violations can also lead to the referee ejecting a player from the game temporarily or permanently.
Ejected players usually must wait in their team’s penalty box until the referee allows them to return to the game.
Most indoor soccer leagues use a “3-card system” to denote rule infractions, though you will see the occasional “2-card system” as well.
In either system, the referee calls penalties by displaying a card.
The color of the card denotes the severity of the violation and the penalty type:
- Blue Card – optional; denotes a minor foul or a non-compliance warning, also denotes a “three-line violation” or kicking the ball unimpeded across three lines down the field; the guilty player gets a 2-minute suspension from the game; may also be given for facilities violations and malfunctions
- Yellow Card – serious or reckless fouls; also given out when a single player receives multiple blue cards; the guilty player gets suspended from the game for at least 2 minutes
- Red Card – extreme, abusive, and intentional fouls can be awarded for receiving multiple yellow cards; the guilty player is completely ejected from the game and the facility in some cases; the team also receives a 2-minute suspension before they can field a replacement.
Now you know everything about indoor soccer, including its rules on play, so you can get to having fun on the field!
Indoor soccer is a fantastic all-weather sport for all skill levels and ages.
The sport operates much like the outdoor game but with a few twists and turns that take advantage of its enclosed arena.
By learning and understanding its rules, you can ensure that it remains enjoyable for everyone on and off the field.
For an in-depth look at the rules for outdoor soccer, check out my guide – The Rules of Soccer: Everything You Need to Know.
Or have a look at my article – Can You Wear Regular Soccer Cleats For Indoor Soccer? – if you are trying to decide what footwear you need.