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Number of Soccer Players on a Field: Valuable Rules

The number of soccer players on-field changes through the youth stages. In different competitions, there can be more players on the bench. The rules are different for the different levels for when a substitute can take place. There are of course the strange events when someone runs onto the field that should not be there. We take a look at all you need to know.

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What is the number of soccer players on a field?

A soccer game is between two teams and each team starts with 11 players each. Both teams must have a goalkeeper as part of the 11. A game cannot take place if any team has less than 7 players. 

We take a look at the number of soccer players for;

  • On-Field
  • Substitutions
  • Extra players/people
  • Squad players

Playing soccer with less on a team gives the players more of a chance to touch the ball and get involved in the game. When there are fewer players the pitch size is smaller to make the game more fun.

Number of Players on a Soccer Field

If during a match a team is reduced to less than 7 players, due to injury or player going off during the game, play will continue until there is a stoppage. For the game to restart both teams need to have a minimum of 7 players each.

Before a soccer match, both teams must be given to the officials. This includes the starting 11 and the substitutes. If the players are not named before the game, they cannot take part. The number of players is set out by IFAB, a governing body of FIFA.

CompetitionNumber of Players
Over 12’s11
Under 12’s9
Under 10’s 7
Under 8’s4
Under 6’s3

Number of Soccer Substitutions

The number of substitutes that can be named for a match depends on the association that governs the league. This number will be based on the rules set out by FIFA. Teams can name per game 3 – 12 substitutes.

  • Some competitions allow for an additional substitute during extra time 

If the match is not between two ‘National A-Teams’. The teams can agree on a number of substitutes before the game as long as the referee is informed. If no agreement is made, then the maximum number of substitutes is 6

The number of soccer players: Substitutes

Major League Soccer7
English Premier League7
La Liga7
UEFA Champions League /EL7 *12
UEFA Europa League7 *12
World Cup12
  • *In the finals for the European competitions, teams are allowed 12 players on the bench to be inclusive for all the team to get a chance to play. Plus it gives the managers more options. 
soccer stadium with players on the field - number of soccer players on a field

How to Substitute a Player

Along with the squad, the substitutes will be named so that the referee is aware of who is on the bench before the match. For a substitution to take place during the game, the referee must be made aware of it and the following rules are to be applied;

  1. Referee’s permission 
  2. During a stoppage/interval 
  3. The player that comes on is at the halfway line 
  4. Leave the field at the nearest point unless instructed to leave at the halfway line
  5. The player being substituted must leave the field or play continues 
  6. The substituted player must go to the technical area/dressing area or sanctioned place

If a player is injured, the referee will indicate the best procedure for taking off the player. If the player is already off of the field, then steps 1-3 take place. 

For goalkeepers, the same procedure happens above and when an outfield player changes place with the goalkeeper, the referee must be informed. If the referee is not informed of the change, then both players are cautioned. 

If a player is named as a substitute but starts the game, the player that was starting can go onto the substitute bench and there are no sanctions but the referee will inform the authorities.  Players can be sent off before a game. If this happens then the player cannot take part in the game. 

Extra Players/People on a Soccer Field 

Before a match, the referee will count the number of players on the field to ensure there are not too many. If there are too many players on the soccer field the referee will follow the procedure;

  1. Stop the game if the player gets involved in the game
  2. Instruct for the player to be removed when the play stops
  3. Discipline if needed 

When the game is stopped because there are too many players, the ball will be returned to the team that had possession, in the form of a direct free kick or penalty. If the ball was not in possession by one team, a dropped ball will take place. 

If one of the squad members, coaching staff or officials enter the field of play during a match, the referee will stop the game and award a free kick or penalty to the team in possession. If a person that is not involved in the game comes onto the field, the play is stopped and a dropped ball is given. 

During an attacking play when an extra player enters the field, the ball might be heading for the goal. In this case, if the ball is going into the goal, the goal stands even if the extra personal touches the ball.

penalty kick saved - number of players on a soccer field - extras

Goal Scored

If a goal is scored and the referee does not realize there is an extra person on the field the goal will be disallowed when;

  • The person is a squad player or coaching staff member = direct free kick from 
  • Another person = dropped-ball

The goal is allowed when there is an extra player on the field when;

  • The additional player of the staff member was part of the team that conceded
  • A fan or someone outside the game did not interfere with play 

Soccer Squad Numbers per League

Soccer squads are determined before the season starts. There are different time scales for cup competitions. Most leagues will allow for additional players to be added to the squad from the youth team. The numbers will need to remain the same but there can be changes. 

Each squad will have to be submitted to the relevant authorities before the competition takes place. The squad sizes allow for replacement players for each position and there are normally 3 goalkeepers per squad.

CompetitionSquad Players
Major League Soccer28
English Premier League25
La Liga25
UEFA Champions League /EL25
UEFA Europa League25
World Cup23

Youth Game Substitutions

For some youth games, substitutions can be made during a match. Later on, during the game, the player can be brought back into the game when another substitution is made. This can be done a number of times to allow for the youth players to adapt to the game – giving the coaches flexibility. 

It is a good way to try things out during a game with your team. Some players may need a break from play, or others can be given coaching advice to help your team. 

Be careful not to make too many changes as this can disrupt the balance of your team and cause the payers on the field to become in doubt as to where their partner players are.

Know the number of soccer players on the field and team, so you can prepare for the fixtures and injuries that build-up throughout the season. For more useful guides, see the articles below or visit our home page.

How many players on a high school soccer team? There are 1 goalkeeper and 10 outfield players making a total of 11 players for a high school soccer team. 

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