Todd Abraham

Todd Abraham, NISOA Senior Director of Instruction

By: Dr. Todd Abraham, NISOA Sr. Director of Instruction

As the post season approaches I thought it would be good to pull together a short refresher on substitutions and dealing with players who have been attended to on the field of play.  The relevant rules are found in Rules 3.5, 3.6 and 3.7 as well as in Rule 5.6.7.

Rule 5.6.7 states that when the referee stops the clock because of an injury and the medical personnel are beckoned to attend to the player (other than the goalkeeper), the referee shall instruct the player to leave the field of play.  The rule goes on to state that if the referee stops the clock and determines medical personnel are not needed to be beckoned, the player may remain on the field.  There are a number of key points in the Rules:

  1. Simply stopping the clock to assess a player does NOT trigger the requirement to remove the player from the field (this is a rule difference from NFHS).
  2. If a field player (not a goalkeeper) is attended to, that player MUST leave the field and may return during the run of play, if not substituted.  Should the team decide to substitute for the player, the opponents are allowed a “one for one” substitution.
  3. The goalkeeper has special allowance in regard to this requirement – the goalkeeper MAY be attended on the field by medical personnel and does NOT have to leave the field. (see A.R.
  4. There is NO exception for an injury caused by an opponent who has been cautioned for this action in regard to being able to remain in the game if the player is treated on the field of play (this is a difference from IFAB Laws…the injured player must leave the field of play if they are treated on the field of play) – the exception regards reentry should that player be substituted for ( and allows for the player to reenter in that period without it counting as a charged reentry.  This rule difference is critical to understand as this is a major rules / law difference between the NCAA Rules and IFAB Laws.

When are substitutions allowed:

  • Between periods.
  • Their own throw-ins and corner kicks or when the opponent substitutes on a throw-in or corner kick.
  • All goal kicks and kickoffs.
  • A player who has been cautioned – the other team may substitute the same number of players.
  • A goalkeeper being ejected – the team may substitute a GK and remove a field player.  The opponents may NOT substitute.
  • When a player is instructed to leave the field to correct equipment – the opponents may substitute the same number of players.
  • For an injured player – the opponents may substitute the same number of players.

NOTE: Players must be checked in at the scorer’s table before ball goes out of play in order to substitute during throw-ins, corner kicks and goal kicks.

Other key points regarding substitutions:

  • A player reentering the game after injury / equipment issues / jewelry, if not substituted for:
    • Injury – run of play.
    • Equipment – next stoppage (opponents may substitute, if players are checked in at the time of that next stoppage – A.R. 3.5.8. and rule 4.2).
    • Jewelry – next substitution opportunity for that team (rule 4.3).
  • Reentering game after blood or head injury (after being cleared by the trainer or medical personnel) if team had substituted or if substituted for when the opponent received a caution or ejection causing the injury.
    • Next stoppage –
  • GK substitutions – one reentry per period – 3.6.2
    • GK becoming a field player – must now adhere to the field player substitution limitations – A.R. 3.6.2.
  • Misconduct during substitution – if either the entering and departing player is ejected, the team will play with one fewer player – new A.R. 3.7.1.d.

Reentry restrictions:

  • First half, no re-entry.
  • Second half, one re-entry.
  • First OT, no re-entry.
  • Second OT, no re-entry.

NOTE:  Each OT is a separate period – entry in one OT does not affect entry in the other.


  • Goalkeepers may re-enter once in every half and in each OT period.
    • If a goalkeeper becomes a field player and then is substituted for, they lose their exception and must abide by the field player’s restriction.
  • A player substituted for because:
      • He/she was bleeding or had blood on the uniform.
      • Was injured and the opponent was cautioned or ejected for that incident.
      • The player had signs of a concussion (and was cleared to return by the medical personnel).
    • May return at the next stoppage of play.
    • Neither the player nor the substitute be charged with a substitution.
      • However, if the player replaces someone other than the original substitute that player will be charged with a substitution.
  • A player who has a permanent medical condition with the potential to produce serious injury or death through sustained physical exertion (e.g. sickle cell trait) may substituted at any time medically necessary and re-enter without the reentry restrictions.
    • This exception may only be used once per game.
    • This condition must be confirmed by the team’s physician and this documentation must be presented to the officials prior to the start of the game.

3 Responses to “NCAA Soccer Rules; Substitutions and Attending To Injured Players on the Field”

  1. Team A: Player A4 starts 2nd Half. Subs out (55:00) then re-enters (60:00) than Subs out (70:00). Can this player-A4- Enter as GK in the 2nd Half?