Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

RSS FEED Subscribe Now!

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef
Panel Login

Question Number: 33305

Mechanics 5/3/2019

RE: Youth Adult

Jason of La Crosse, WI USA asks...

What's the NFHS vs Youth/IFAB standard for stopping play for an injury?

I saw the NFHS rules guy say that play should stop immediately, but that can't be right - defending players would game the system and use it to stop scoring chances.

For youth I stop immediately for injuries deemed serious or any head injury, or if the ball is in midfield. If a team has the ball in the attacking end and the injury isn't deemed serious, we play until the chance has run its course. Does NFHS differ from this? I can't find the answer in the rulebook.

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Jason,
There are many, many references to injury situations in the NFHS rules but I can only find one scenario where it talks specifically about play being stopped immediately, which is where a player shows signs of a concussion.

However, because the safety of the players is considered paramount in an NFHS setting, the referee in an NFHS game should stop play straight away when an injury occurs. See ref Manjone's post below for a fuller explanation, and for what action to take if the referee believes the player is trying to 'game the system.'

This is a little different to the IFAB provisions for injury, which say that the referee:

''- allows play to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is only slightly injured
- stops play if a player is seriously injured and ensures that the player is removed from the field of play''

There are a couple of exceptions to the requirement that the player be removed from the field for treatment, including when:

''a severe injury has occurred''

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jason
Both codes have procedures / advice for dealing with injuries. FIFA restarts will change from the 1st June 2019.
Safety is the key factor and referees should err on the side of caution when dealing with injuries. Each injury situation will be different in terms of how it happened, why it happened, when it happened, where it happened and referees will factor those into his decision. Some he might just not see as the player could be behind him.
Now in the situation where there is an immediate shot, chance, opportunity it can very well be the case that the play will happen before the injury situation is apparent or play can be stopped . I recall a few seasons ago in a game where two defenders clashed heads in the air and the ball fell immediately to a forward who shot and scored. The goal stopped play so treatment was immediate and as quick as had the referee stopped play.
As to players *gaming* the situation the referee has to opine if it is indeed an injury or how serious it is. I also recall a few seasons ago in a game on a breakaway situation where a defender hopelessly outnumbered lay down with an apparent strain as an attacker went past him. I allowed play to continues as it was not in my opinion a serious injury requiring immediate treatment. At the next opportunity I stopped play to deal with the player.
As to not so obvious *gaming * of the Law / Rules the referee has to deal with what he finds. Time should certainly be accounted for either by adding on time or stopping the match clock. In NFHS the player has to be substituted whereas in FIFA removed until after play resumes and then when it is appropriate to allow the player back on.
Simulating an injury is a cautionable offence in both codes although it is extremely difficult to prove. I have seen players go down injured for no apparent reason only to find that the player had in fact an injury. A few seasons ago I recall an incident where two players went up for a ball, the ball was headed away and one player went down *injured*. I felt it was strange yet I stopped play and there was a moan by the opponents. The player got treatment and he has a gash on the back of his calf where in the air coming down the opponent caught him accidentally. I did not see that and it pointed out to me that injuries are not always obvious and it can be best to stop play to deal with it when the referee is uncertain of what happened.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


Please remember that one of the primary goals of high school sports is participant safety. If an apparent injury occurs the referee is to immediately stop the game. The referee can then check on the player, and if the player is indeed injured, the referee is to stop the clock and beckon the coach and/or trainer onto the field.

In high school play, protecting a player and/or getting an injured player needed medical attention are more important than allowing the game to continue so that a team may score a goal.

If after stopping the game for an injured player, the referee believes that the player was faking an injury, that player should be cautioned or if the faked injury was to stop a goal-scoring opportunity and a goal is not scored, disqualified.

When a player is injured and the referee blows the whistle and stops the clock, the injured player must leave the game and cannot return until the next legal opportunity to substitute.

Also, remember that if a game is stopped for an injury and neither team has clear possession, the game is started with a drop ball between two opponents. in high school play, dropping the ball to one team and telling them to kick the ball to the other team is not permitted.

If the game is stopped and one team is in clear possession, the game will be started with an indirect kick for that team from the spot of the ball when the game was stopped.

Please check out the 2019-2020 NFHS High School Rules change where dropping the ball after an injury stoppage is clarified.

I hope that you have a very successful Spring officiating season.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe Manjone

View Referee Joe Manjone profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 33305
Read other Q & A regarding Mechanics

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.