Player Uniforms

Published on March 11, 2016


By:  John Van de Vaarst, National Clinician

The monthly “NISOA Referee Nuts and Bolts” column is written primarily for the college and high school soccer referee. However, any soccer referee who wishes to improve personal performance may also find that this series is helpful.

All articles address those BASIC techniques, procedures, practice alternatives, and skills that are sometimes forgotten or overlooked while going through the experiences of soccer refereeing. The short discussions and accompanying practical tips stress important advice for competent performance. This month’s article will focus on the uniform requirements are for players.

The NCAA and NFHS Rule Books have specific rules on what players must wear and how the opponents’ uniforms must contrast.  Many of the items are either identical or very similar in the two books but others are different.  This article will explore the similarities and differences in uniform requirements.

The required uniform includes a jersey, shorts, socks, suitable shoes and shinguards.  In addition, visible apparel may be worn under the jersey and/or shorts with certain restrictions.

JERSEY – The NCAA Rule Book indicates that the home teams are responsible for ensuring that the uniforms contrast the colors of the visiting teams.  The home teams can elect to wear  light or dark color jerseys.  This allows teams to have options for the uniforms especially when there are back-to-back games on the schedule.  The NFHS Rule Book requires the home teams wear white jerseys and socks and the visiting teams wear dark jerseys and socks.  There are no exceptions mentioned in the rule book.  Also, the NFHS requires that all jerseys must be tucked into the shorts, unless the jerseys are manufactured to be worn outside the shorts.  The NCAA Rule Book does not address the requirement to have jerseys tucked in but is normally required. Both rule books, while the minimum size is slightly different, require numbers on both the front and back of the jerseys.   Also, both the NFHS and NCAA allow commemorative or memorial patches on the jerseys provided the patches satisfy specific guidelines.

SHOES – The requirement on what type of shoes are required is basically identical within the two rule books.  The key statement is that no shoes should be worn that are deemed dangerous by the referee.  The NFHS Rule Book does add the statement that shoes cannot be altered in any way creating sharp edges thus making them unsafe.

SOCKS – At the intercollegiate level the color of socks is not specified in the rule book.  For interscholastic soccer the home team must wear solid white socks and the visiting team dark socks and both socks must be the same color.

SHINGUARDS – Shinguards are required to be worn by all players in both rule books.  The NCAA Rule Book indicates that the shinguards meet the standards established by the National Operating committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE),  The NFHS Rule Book requires that the NOCSAE seal be permanently marked on the front of the shinguards.

SHORTS – The NCAA Rule Book prescribes the requirements for shorts to include that the shorts may be different in color from the socks and jerseys and that both teams may wear shorts of a similar color.  The NFHS Rule Book does not provide requirements on the color of shorts.

VISIBLE ITEMS UNDER THE UNIFORM – The NCAA requires that garments worn under the jerseys or shorts be a solid color that match the dominant color of the garment.  The NFHS requires the garments shall be of similar length, all alike and a solid color.

GOALKEEPER – Both rule books have nearly the same requirements for goalkeeper uniforms.  Both books indicate that the goalkeeper’s jersey be distinctly different in color.  The NCAA Rule Book indicates that the jersey worn by the goalkeeper distinguishes him/her from all field players.  The NFHS Rule Book uses wording that the color of the jersey be different from that of any teammate or opposing field player.  The NCAA Rule Book adds a requirement that the socks of the goalkeeper be different than the opponent.  This includes the other goalkeeper.  The NFHS requires that the socks be different than the opposing team’s field players.

ILLEGAL EQUIPMENT – Both the NCAA and NFHS Rule Books have several items that are considered to be illegal.  The key component for officials is that no player be allowed to enter the game wearing anything that is dangerous to him/herself or any other player.  Officials should review the rule books on a regular basis to ensure that decisions on particular types of equipment are made correctly.

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