Reduced Field Size
Since a full size field is a challenge for children this age, U10 games in Palo Alto AYSO are played on reduced size fields (roughly, 60% of full size). To keep everything to scale, the distances in the Laws of the Game are reduced proportionately. For example, the 10-yard distances at free kicks and corner kicks is reduced to 8 yards, and slightly smaller goals are used.
Reduced Team Size
U10 teams consist of 7 players. This allows players to get more "touches" on the ball than they would if 11-player teams were used, and provides the coaches with a smaller group to instruct.
A match may not start if a team consists of less than 5 players. However, referees should allow the team that is short to forfeit the game and then "borrow" players from the other team so that a game can still be played.
Heading the Ball in U10 Games is Prohibited
U10 players are not physically developed enough to head the ball safely in all situations. To ensure player safety, heading the ball is prohibited in U10 games. Referees are to sanction heading the ball as "playing in a dangerous manner" and award the opposing team an indirect free kick according to the Laws of the Game.
Goal Kick Law
Goal kicks will be taken from within the goal area, but the size of the goal area relative to the penalty area will be changed to make it easier for U10 players to put the ball into play.
No other changes are made to the full FIFA Laws, other than those mandated for all of AYSO and the changes of "scale" noted above.
Referees should review the AYSO National Rules and Regulations and the AYSO Short-Sided Games Guide for the complete tailoring of the Laws of the Game for U10 play. Both of these are provided as sections in "AYSO Guidance for Referees, Coaches, Other Volunteers & Parents", which may be downloaded at Basic Referee Course U10 to U12.
Each U10 game must be officiated by a certified Regional Referee. U10 games should normally be played with THREE certified Regional Referees: a Referee and two Assistant Referees. The referees are typically parent volunteers from each team. U10 games are played using the full Laws of the Game (with some minor changes), rather than the abbreviated ones used in U7 through U9. The Regional Referee certification indicates that the referees are properly trained for this level of play, with the full laws.
Each U10 team is required to provide a certified Regional Referee for each game for which they are the "home" team. The "home" team is the team listed first in the game schedule. If the "home" team cannot provide a certified Regional Referee for the game and the "visiting/away" team cannot provide one, the "home" team will be considered to have forfeited the game. The "home" team can arrange for any certified referee for the game, not necessarily from their own team.
Since most parent referees will occasionally be unavailable for a "home" game (e.g., due to business travel, illness, etc.), each team should obtain (i.e., train) two Regional Referees, so they have a backup. In a pinch, work with the Division Commissioner to identify a backup referee. Having two team referees is advisable, as they can serve as Assistant Referees on "home" games, and backup referees for "visiting" games.
A U10 team's referees get together at the begining of the season and work out a schedule between them regarding who will referee which games, and which referee will be "center" referee for the "home" games. They let the coach know that they have a plan in place so that the coach can focus his/her attention on the players. If both refs can't show for a "home" game, it is best if the coach lets the other coach know before the game so he/she can ask their 2nd ref to show up. Games are meant to be officiated with three referees! A schedule might look like this for a team with 2 refs, Susan and Jose: