You can quickly find the full definition of the Mercy Rule in our Laws of the Game here:

For our purposes we’ll quickly explain the rule as adding and removing a players from teams each time a 3 goal differences is achieved between the two teams.

Why do we have this rule?

WUYSL is committed to making the game fun and developing players so that they continue to enjoy playing and improving week after week and season after season. We are also committed to promoting healthy competition and a fun atmosphere during a lopsided game. This rule is intended to help with that.

It’s important to understand the intent of the rule vs the letter of the rule.

What is the intent of the rule?

The intent of this rule is to help make the game more equal. In order to ensure that happens here are things that you, as the Coach, should consider:

  • Are the same players scoring all the goals?
  • Are all the players on my team involved in the game?
  • Is everyone on the team getting a chance to play all positions on the field?
  • Is my team passing the ball or are we scoring by dribbling past the opponent?

How can I help make the mercy rule effective?

As a coach here are some things that you can do when your team leads by 3 goals and the game is beginning to become lopsided.

  • Move the players who are scoring to a different position on the field, such as defense.
  • If you have subs, you can sub off the player that scores the goal.
  • Encourage your team to only score off of a pass and not dribble through the team.
  • When you take a player off, sub off the player that is “doing all the work”. This will encourage the other players on your team to get involved in the game instead of “just get the ball to so-and-so”
  • When you give a player to the opposing team, give them one of your more talented players and not one of the less involved players.

Remember that this is for the kids and that we want them to all have fun and want to come back each week. We are a development league and we want to focus on helping the players develop a love and understanding of the game. They won’t be able to do that if only a few players on the team are “doing all the work” and they are standing on the field watching.

In most of the age groups the players aren’t ready to pick and play a single position on the field. It’s recommended that they play all the positions. This will help them to better understand the play of the game and how each position works which will allow them to better play with players in those positions as they develop and grow as a player