Retreat Line

What is the Retreat Line?
The retreat line will come into play when the ball has gone out for a goal kick or when the goalkeeper has the ball in his/her arms.  All opponents must be behind the retreat line and cannot cross the retreat line until the ball:
• Is touched by a player of the team taking the goal kick
• Leaves the field of play
• Goes over the retreat line

Why do we need a Retreat Line in youth soccer? 
The purpose of the Retreat Line is to allow our young players to learn and gain confidence in how to play the ball out from the back and build an attack, as opposed to the goalkeeper/last player kicking it aimlessly up the field. To see young players aimlessly boot the ball up the field in the “hope” that one of his or her teammates gets the ball is not effective in producing skilled, confident players who love to play. It’s about an appreciation of possession; educating players, parents and Game Leaders on the value of the Retreat Line, and encouraging players to enjoy having the ball, rather than fearing it.

How do we incroporate a Retreat Line into the game?

Setup of the Retreat Line:
-In U7 (4v4) and U8 (5v5) games, the retreat line can be the half field line. As most temporary 5v5 fields will not have a halfway line, corner flags at the side of the field can act as an indicator to the players where the halfway line is. If flags are not available three cones laid in line on each side of the field can indicate the retreat line. Note to Game Leaders: Do not put cones on the field as players may trip or slide on them.

-In the U10 (7v7) and U12 (9v9) games, the retreat line will be located at 1/3 of the field.  This means the opposing team retreats to the middle third of the field when the goalkeeper has possession.

During a game:
1. When the goalkeeper has the ball at a goal kick or after making a save the opposing team members would “retreat” to a third of the field.
2. Once all the opposing players have retreated to the line the goalkeeper can successfully throw or pass the ball to one of his/her teammates
3. Once the teammate has received the ball the opposing players can then start to apply pressure to the player with the ball this gives the player on the ball the time and space required to have a look, receive the ball and choose to dribble or pass to a teammate without being marked or under immediate pressure

Different Scenarios in a game:
If the goalkeeper chooses not to wait for the opposing players to "retreat" and throws or passes the ball down the field, the ball is instantly in play and does not require a player from the goalkeeper’s team to touch the ball first. 

In some instances, instead of the goalkeeper choosing to "play out from the back", they may decide to kick the ball directly over the Retreat Line.  Match Officials and Game Leaders are advised that this is not against the rules (although clearly against the "spirit" of the Retreat Line), and so the game should not be stopped.
Also, be advised that when the ball crosses the Retreat Line, it can be touched by any player on the field and can be deemed "live and in play".

Additional Materials on te Retreat Line
Click here to goto YouTube to watch a Retreat Line webinar from Ontario Soccer