Soccer by the Rules – New Rules Changes Affecting Coaches

By: Joe Manjone, Ed. D.

As the Director of NISOA’s interscholastic division I serve as a liaison (non-voting) to the National Federation of High School Sports soccer rules committee.  This committee is made up of 12 members, all of whom are high school coaches, officials, or administrators.

The 2013 Rules Committee meets the fourth week in January of each year to consider rules change and rule book editorial change proposals that are made by individuals from all over the U.S. who feel that changes are needed. Thirty-two rules change proposals were sent in for consideration this year. Seven of these proposals were accepted by the committee and will become part of the new 2013-14 NFHS Soccer Rules Book that will be available in June. Two of the new rules will be discussed in this article. The others will be discussed in future articles.

Two of the new rules changes give more freedom to coaches and reduce the amount of enforcement that has been required by officials.

  1. The first of these concerns coaching during a dead ball when an injury occurs. The following sentence in Rule 3-3-1c(1) has been deleted: During the time a coach or appropriate health care professional is permitted on the field by the referee to attend to an injured player, coaching instruction shall not be given to any player on either team. Thus, coaching during an injury dead ball is now  permitted.

I believe that this is a good rules change because it was difficult for officials to monitor and enforce the old rule, and  because when an injury occurs, coaching is often needed to calm down the situation, and also because with the injury and a player being removed, the situation on the field is changing and strategy changes may be needed.

  1. The second of these addresses the use of electronic equipment in the bench area during the game.  With the common use of cell phones, i-pads, and video equipment, the rule that banned these devices in bench area and contacting others outside the bench area was outdated. The Soccer Rules Committee voted to change Rule 12-8-1e as follows: A Player, coach, or bench personnel shall be cautioned (yellow card) for any use of electronic devices with the on-field players during play.

The use of electronic equipment is now considered misconduct only when it involves the use of electronic equipment to communicate or interact with the players on the field. This now allows the coach to communicate with others not on the field, such as assistant coaches in the stands, and the use of computers, i-pads or video equipment to instruct substitutes during the game or between periods.

Again, I feel that this is rules change that was very much needed as the previous non-use of electronic equipment was no longer appropriate and difficult to enforce.

Please note that these rules changes do not go into effect until the 2013-14 soccer season, so that if you are playing spring 2013, soccer, you will still be following the rules in the 2012-13 rules book.

Starting in the fall of 2013, follow and enforce these rules in every high school game you work, and make certain your partners do the same. Help coaches to know and understand these new rules changes.

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