Respecting the Game at its R.O.O.T.S.

Each month during the 2022 fall season we will focus on R.O.O.T.S- Rules, Opponent, Officials, Teammates, and Self, as outlined by The Positive Coaching Alliance. We will highlight the value of RESPECT for each area.

Know the Laws of the Game-

How well do you know the rules (or more correctly, the Laws) of the game?

One of the leading causes of stress, confusion, anger, and angst during soccer games (youth through professional) is the misunderstanding, misapplication, and misconceptions around the rules of the game. Here are five of the leading culprits when it comes to problem causing Laws in soccer:

Offside (note-not Offsides)

The “interpretation” of offside is worthy of an entire book, but a majority of the debate takes place around interpreting two components: the positioning of the offending player at the time the ball was played and if the alleged offending player was “actively involved” in the play.

Being “actively involved” generally refers to 3 possibilities; receiving the ball, engaging the defender as they receive the ball, or actively interfering with the goalkeeper’s ability to make a play on a shot ball.  The first is fairly obvious, the second two can be a little more subjective and open to interpretation by the official. If player in an offside position stops their run, then other players coming from onside positions are able to pursue the ball without a call being made.

Determining offside position is a tricky balance of seeing the ball and the position of the player at the same time.  If, like most spectators, you were watching the ball, then by the time you turn your gaze towards the offensive player, he/she may be behind the second-to-last defender at that time…but were not “at the time the ball was played.”  While some incidences can be easily judged, the use (and arguments over) Video Assistant Referee (VAR) has shown how difficult and tight this judgement can be.

Before you yell “offside” the next time, ask yourself: how many times you are REALLY looking at the second-to-last defender from a 90-degree angle at the exact time the ball is played in the direction of an attacking player? And, were you REALLY looking AT the last defender and listening for the thump of the ball (which remember also takes time to travel to your ears.)

Ball out of play

Judging whether a ball is out or not seems simple enough on paper but can be super hard to judge at full speed. For those coming from other sports, where the play is “out” if a player or ball touches a line, this rule, even on paper, needs a little getting used to.

To be clear: In soccer, the “whole ball must be over the whole line” to be out. And that line of course extends infinitely upward as an invisible plane that can be broken by a ball, but not surpassed completely. Once you’re sure you know the rule, unless you are “looking straight down the line” like the end zone camera in American football, you can’t really be sure. Even assuming perfect position and no obstructions of your view (and that you didn’t blink at the wrong time) there’s still the geometry of the thing…the ball is round.

While it’s pretty easy to judge looking straight down from the top like in the image above, when you’re looking from a lower point of view (and from any angle not directly “down the line”) it is very possible for the ball to not be physically touching the line on the ground, but for the outer edges of its widest point to STILL be hanging over the outer plain of the line.

Handling (note-not Handball)

This rule is one of the hardest for a referee to judge with even more nuance… and room for interpretation… and more opportunities for obstructed views than offside or out-of-play decisions.

In short, the hand (arm) must “play the ball,” not the “ball to hand.” This means the ball can touch a player’s arm, but if it’s not really their fault, it’s not a foul. But what is their fault? Did they stand with their arms raised like someone was aiming a gun? Or were their arms just in a natural running position?

And where did the ball come from? Was it shot toward them from one yard away and it deflected up off their knee to an arm that was outstretched in the motion of lunging (have you ever tried lunging while keeping your arms down?)

With these nuances, it’s no wonder many professional referees even disagree on calls when they review matches on video after matches. Yet “handball” is the most frequent shout from parents at any game — and always from parents supporting the team opposite of the one whose arm touched the ball.


This is a “rule” that favors more than it hurts when called, yet so many parents completely miss it in the big picture of the game. Yes, a player may have been crushed by a late tackle as they passed the ball, but if their pass makes it to a teammate with time and space on the ball — especially in the attacking half of the field — then you really DON’T want to hear to the referee’s whistle, do you?

Referees are advised to yell “play on” and raise both arms forward when they acknowledge a foul occurred, but they are choosing not to stop the play because calling the foul would actually have taken a good advantage away from the aggrieved team.

If the foul was bad enough, the referee will return to the offending player at the next natural stoppage of play and eject, caution, or give them a stern talking-to. If not, then literally “no harm, no foul.”

Direct vs. Indirect

What happens after the whistle blows — or what can happen — is another often misunderstood occurrence. Does a team get a direct or indirect free kick? The rules are clear as to which offense earns the appropriate result. Generally, fouls that involve player-on-player offenses are direct, while procedural offenses are indirect. Handling is also direct.

  • A direct free kick simply means the ball can count as a goal if it goes directly in the opponent’s goal without touching another player first.
  • An indirect free kick (or throw-in) means the ball must touch another player (on either team) before entering the opponent’s goal in order for it to count. If it does so without that second touch, then it’s just a goal kick for the defending team.

Here are some additional resources to help you understand more about the Laws of the Game.

Ready to TEST your knowledge?  Soccer America has put together a Rules Quiz

Soccer Parenting Reminder

The Soccer Parenting Association is a nationally recognized organization whose beliefs are:

  • A strong and supportive community of level-headed and like-minded parents and coaches will inspire players.
  • A more collaborative environment between coach, parents, club, and player is in the best interest of player development.
  • When parents seek information about how to best support their player, great things will happen.
  • Youth soccer parents will be difference makers when it comes to improving the game.

As members of the Kings Hammer Soccer Club, all families are provided access to the Soccer Parenting Association’s website and full library of resources (webinars, articles, courses, and more.) If you have not yet opened your account, you can do so at the following link-

Once you get your account setup (or if you already have your account setup,) I would encourage ALL families to visit the Courses option in the navigation bar and click on The Sideline Project

  • A 15 Minute Guide for level-headed youth soccer parents and coaches interested in learning more about what we can all do to improve the sidelines!
  • This Guide is designed to give you added perspective and understanding about sideline behavior.

Just 15 minutes of your time for a healthier, empowering sideline so your child will be inspired!

Tryout FAQ’s

How do I register for tryouts?
ALL soccer-athletes MUST COMPLETE the tryout registration online before participating in the tryout process. Click here to register now!

*Please make sure that you register online at least 24 hours in advance to ensure that the soccer athlete is in the system and we have your information to notify you after the tryout process.  There is a Registration Steps document on the Tryouts page that will walk you through the process. Each soccer athlete should attend both tryout days if possible. If you are unable to attend both days please reach out to the Program Director listed below.

Birth Years for the 2022/2023 Season
For the 2022/2023 season, Kings Hammer will follow U.S Youth Soccer’s guidelines and will organize its teams by birth year:

*Interested players must register to try out for their birth year.

Can my child play up an age group?
Any player playing up will be at the discretion of their respective director. All players need to register and attend the tryout for their correct age group.

What should I wear/bring to tryouts?
Please come prepared with a fully inflated soccer ball, proper footwear, shin guards, and water. Each prospective soccer-athlete will receive one free Kings Hammer Soccer Club tryout t-shirt with a tryout identification number on the back of the t-shirt.  Each prospective player will be identified by the identification number throughout the process and MUST wear this t-shirt at each tryout session for the 2022/2023 soccer year.

We will not be able to attend tryouts or are new to the area and missed tryouts. Is there a process in place to allow for an alternate tryout?
Yes! If you are not able to attend tryouts or missed the tryout dates, please register and then contact the Director for the Program/Age Group you wish to tryout for so that arrangements can be made. We also hold supplemental tryouts throughout the year. Roster openings may be limited after the initial tryout period.

What are the differences between Academy and Premier?
Our Academy provides a highly competitive environment for higher-level soccer athletes. This program provides those athletes with the best local training offered by our qualified and professional staff. Our Academy teams play at the highest possible level providing showcase opportunities to College, Professional, and National level programs.

The Premier Program is a community-based program. The Premier Program provides the opportunity for players to play other sports or have other interests outside of soccer. This program is designed to be flexible, convenient, and affordable.

Can I try out for multiple programs?
We encourage anyone who wants to tryout for all levels to do so. Current KHSC players can ask their coach/director for guidance if they are unsure about which program to tryout for. You will need to register for each tryout separately.

If I tryout for a program and don’t make it, can I try out for another program?
Yes. If you don’t make an Academy team, we strongly encourage you to tryout for a Premier team, attending tryouts for at least one day.

If you don’t make a Premier team, the Classic Program may be an option. Contact Michelle Okumura ( if you’d like to pursue this option.

Will there be more than one team in each age group?
Yes, when possible, there will be more than one team per age group, per program. It all depends on the number of players at tryouts and their skill level.

If my child doesn’t make the top team, can they move up during the year?
Yes, there may be opportunities to move up throughout the year as long as the coach/director feels it is in the best interest of the player’s development. There may also be opportunities to guest play across all levels.

What can I expect after tryouts?
After tryouts you can expect communication from the club in the form of an email.  (Please double-check that your email is correct in the PlayMetrics system, this is the email we use) This will either be an acceptance email, offering your child a position on a team, or an email letting you know that they should tryout for a different program. Players who are offered positions on a team may also receive a phone call from their coach. All communication will come within 24-48 hours of the end of the last tryout. You will then have 24 hours to either accept or decline your email before your spot is offered to another child.

What are the next steps if my child makes a team?

  1. If you are new to the club, you will receive more information regarding your uniform ordering in your confirmation email.
  2. If you are part of the Academy or Premier Programs, you will receive the link to Demosphere to register your child in the state system in your confirmation email as well.

How long is the season?

  • Academy
    • U11-U14: August-November, January-May (possible post-season in June)
    • U15-U19: November-May
  • Premier
    • U7-U14: August-October, March-May
    • U15-U19: November-December, March-May

My child is in middle school but plays on a U15 team. Will there be a fall U15 program for trapped players?
Yes, we will offer a program for trapped 8th graders for the fall season depending on interest. The program will run from August to October and is open to players that are currently in the 8th grade that will be playing on a U15 team starting in November 2022. Questions please contact:

Academy North: Ryan Handbury |
Academy South Boys: James Thomas |
Academy South Girls: Chris Black |
Academy Bluegrass Boys: Dan Ensley  |
Academy Bluegrass Girls: Megan Adkins |

Can a team come to the club and join as a team?
Yes! The team can join the Classic Program. For more information please reach out to Michelle Okumura at

Who is in charge of hiring coaches?
If you are interested in a coaching opportunity, please fill out the following coaching form –

Program Directors:

Academy North: Ryan Handbury |
Academy South Girls: Chris Black |
Academy South Boys: James Thomas |
Academy Bluegrass Boys: Dan Ensley |
Academy Bluegrass Girls: Megan Adkins |
Premier Xenia: Brent Lewis |
Premier North: Wil Cagle |
Premier Sycamore: Ryan Handbury |
Premier Central: Michael Ratliff |
Premier South: David Shemilt |
Premier Versailles: Brandon Cummons |
Premier Lexington: Fonyam Atanga |