Soccer by the Rules – Jerseys Tucked In

By: Joe Manjone, Ed. D.

Rule 4-1-1b directs that: “Prior to and during the game, jerseys shall be tucked into the shorts, unless manufactured to be worn outside.”

  • In a National Federation of High School Athletics survey completed by 8,000 referees, coaches and state officers, an overwhelming majority of those responding indicated that the following was a problem in their area: Jerseys made to be tucked into the shorts, not tucked in. This should not be a problem if the referees are enforcing Rule 4-1-1b. However, many officials are ignoring this rule because they do not view having a jersey out of the shorts as being essential to the outcome or safety of the game.

Why do jerseys need to be tucked into the Shorts?

  • Uniforms identify the team and instill a positive feeling of team membership among team members. Having team members that are dressed alike and looking sharp result in a more professional image and attitude toward the game. Wearing uniforms properly is a requirement at all levels of play in all sports. When a jersey made outside the shorts is not tucked in, the player appears to be uncaring about her/himself, the team or the way he/she plays. The educational experience of wearing a uniform in the proper manner is another consideration, as some high school athletes will enter a career situation where a uniform is required. There are numerous reasons for this rule, but regardless of the reason it is a rule, and as an official, you must enforce it.

How are jerseys to be worn outside of the shorts identified?

  • Jerseys to be worn outside of the shorts normally have a horizontal band of 1 to 3 inches at the bottom of the jersey.  This band is made large enough so that the jersey fits over the shorts. Normally the jersey worn outside the shorts does not go more than 3 or 4 inches below the waist level of the shorts. Please note that few manufacturers are now making jerseys worn outside the shorts, because the current international and professional style is to have a jersey that is tucked into the shorts. Thus, it will become rarer and rarer that you will encounter a team that has jerseys to be worn outside of the shorts.

What about players whose jerseys are too short to fit into the shorts?

  • Please remember this rule specifies that only jerseys made to be worn outside the shorts can be worn outside. If the jersey is made to be worn inside the shorts, it is up to the school, coach and player to make certain that the player is properly equipped and that the uniform meets the rules. Thus, do not accept a player’s excuse that his/her jersey is too short.  Please note that this rule and all National Federation high school rules apply to varsity contests only unless your state dictates otherwise.  Thus, if you are refereeing a JV game, you may want to learn your state’s JV uniform rules.

What is the procedure if a player does not have their jersey tucked in as required?

  • The rule states that jerseys must be tucked in prior to and during the game, so that as you arrive and see players with jerseys not tucked in, remind the coach of the rule and ask him to have players tuck in their jerseys.
  • When meeting with the coaches and captains, remind them of the rule and ask the captains to remind their players before and during the game.  Also, indicate that any substitutes coming into the game with jerseys not tucked in will not be beckoned into the game.
  • During the game, do not allow substitutes to enter the game if their jerseys are not tucked in.
  • During stoppages of play for substitutions, injuries, etc., require players with jerseys not tucked in to get them tucked in, and tell them if they do not keep the jerseys tucked in, they will be sent out of the game for being improperly equipped.
  • Assistant referees can also help by verbally telling players close to them to tuck in their jerseys.


Improperly equipped players as indicated in 4-3 shall not be cautioned, but shall be instructed to leave the field of play when the ball next ceases to be in play. The removed player may re-enter only after reporting to an official who shall be satisfied the uniform is in order. There will be no replacement until the next opportunity to substitute.  However, the removed player may re-enter during a dead ball after reporting to an official.

  • Thus, a player who you have told several times to tuck in their jersey or you actually see remove their jersey from their shorts should be sent off for being improperly equipped.
  • Although, this may seem harsh, sending one player off usually has a result of players keeping their jerseys in their shorts and less of a need for requesting players to tuck in their jerseys.

Start enforcing this rule now, and remove it as a concern from next year’s questionnaire.

Follow the above procedures in every high school game you work, make certain your partners do the same. Help teams know and get used to keeping their jersey tucked in.

If you would like to suggest a high school soccer rules change or if you have any questions about this rule or any high school rule, please e-mail me at [email protected]