Barefoot Hub Ball
(by Tom A. Kutscher)
Introduction and History Barefoot Hub Ball is a new outdoor team sport invented solely by Tom A. Kutscher of Overland Park, Kansas, USA. (No other person or organization was involved in this sport creation and the concept and rules are totally by Tom Kutscher). The inventor has substantial experience playing, watching, analyzing, scoring (official), and/or coaching numerous sports over a period of 60 years, starting as a youth in the late 1950s and continuing today.
Barefoot Hub Ball is designed for a high level of fun with high safety and high health benefits. This sport is designed to reduce the number of flaws that are common in most sports, reduce the potential hazards, and especially to provide an outdoor team sport that is largely free of the risk of brain injuries and CTE. Outdoor sports all have some flaws and hazards. These flaws and hazards range from being potentially dangerous, being too susceptible to fouls/unfair play or outright cheating, to many other flaws (such as too little scoring, not enough player participation, play that becomes too intense, etc.). Barefoot Hub Ball can be a safer and more healthy alternative to popular but potentially risky outdoor sports such as soccer and American football.
The requirement of using footwear in nearly all sports played outdoors makes it far more likely that the footwear-clad feet will be used in offensive and aggressive ways. As can be seen in soccer and other shod sports (American football, etc.), that type of aggressive play can cause injury to another player. Examples of that aggressive type play with boots/shoes (especially footwear with studs or spikes) are so common that they are routine. This sport must be played barefoot. Barefoot play substantially reduces the risk of competitors attacking other competitors with their feet. Other rules have been included in this sport to reduce contact between players.
In addition to increasing the safety of the sport by requiring bare feet and limiting contact, the health benefits of being barefoot on grass and natural surfaces (that are well-maintained and otherwise safe for barefoot play) are also reasons for this sport being footwear free. There are many excellent sources of information on the internet and also some books on the health benefits of going barefoot. Two excellent informational websites that are recommended are the Society for Barefoot Living (www.barefooters.org) and Barefoot Hikers and Grass Walkers of Greater Kansas City (www.barefootkc.com). Dr. Daniel Howell’s book (The Barefoot Book) is a very good reference.
Earthing, also referred to as grounding, is another major benefit of this sport. Earthing benefits are provided by being barefoot on natural surfaces, and other ways that electrically ground the body. Excellent information on earthing can be found at www.earthinginstitute.net and other websites and books (e.g. Earthing, by Clint Ober, et al).
While some barefoot outdoor team sports already exist (e.g. beach volleyball) and other sports are occasionally played barefoot (e.g. ultimate – the disc sport and grass volleyball), it is time to have a barefoot sport that is played on grass fields that is specifically designed for footwear-free play. The sport of Barefoot Hub Ball should be able to fill a gap that has been missing – an enjoyable and generally safe way to to have fun barefoot on safe, well-maintained grass or grassy dirt fields.
Also Barefoot Hub Ball is designed to give no special advantage to taller players over shorter ones, or large players over small ones. It was designed for maximum participation and includes free and unlimited substitution. If played safely and properly and with proper officiating it should be a much safer sport than the current most common high-activity outdoor team sports.
Barefoot Hub Ball was invented in the period from September 15-30, 2017 with revisions made from October 1 – 18. The sport inventor Tom A. Kutscher is an expert on barefoot exercise, barefoot hiking, and barefoot living, and on exercise ratings systems. He has experience in playing in many sports, created a club in one sport, created a hiking group, and reached volunteer management level in the national organization of one sport for a region covering two states. He has walked and hiked barefoot over 8,000 miles on natural grass fields and earth trails without any significant injury. And he is the world’s leading advocate of natural (barefoot on grass) walking for exercise and author of “Natural Walking for Exercise” (available on the website www.barefootkc.com).
The term “hub” comes from the combination of “h” for team handball, “u” for ultimate (disc sport), and “b” for basketball. These sports provided some of the initial inspiration for its creation. The ball is a mini soccer ball. The selection of mini soccer balls will make it easier to become popular so that no new type of ball is needed. And no special equipment or accessories are necessary. The Rules follow next.
Barefoot Hub Ball: The Rules
Note – The Disclaimer and Indemnification section at the end of The Rules text is part of the Rules for Barefoot Hub Ball and MUST be included in the Rules. Also, refer to the HOME page for the statement on COVID-19 (as it regards Barefoot Hub Ball).
1. Purpose of the Sport This sport is for those who want an outdoor sport that is played barefoot and is mostly free of contact and collisions. It provides a safer alternative to soccer, American (tackle) football, rugby, lacrosse, and other sports that require or often have hard physical contact and regularly cause injuries. This sport is designed to have as little contact as possible and to be as low of injury potential as possible for a moderate-to-fast-moving team sport. Note – some physical contact is going to happen and collisions are definitely possible since players can run around on an open field, but the rules are written to minimize contact and collisions.
The sport requires players to be barefoot and that adds to the benefits of physical connection to the Earth. Matches are played on natural surfaces, optimally on grass. Benefits of earthing (or grounding) as well as many other health benefits of outdoor barefoot exercise are an added bonus. The absence of footwear essentially eliminates the risk of being spiked or stepped on with studs, and reduces the risk of being violently kicked.
To summarize, Barefoot Hub Ball attempts to optimize health benefits while minimizing injury hazards assuring a safe barefoot sport for men, women, boys, and girls (however, pregnant women should not play sport). It can be played at different levels of skill for ages 6 and above to age 90 and maybe beyond. The sport development by Tom A. Kutscher (with six decades of sports experience) took into account pluses and minuses of many other sports. The result is a high safety and high health balance and to produce an optimum combination.
2. Playing Field The game is played on an outdoor grass field that measures a total of 88 meters in length and 40 meters in width. These dimensions are for elite level play, i.e. high school varsity, collegiate, and (possibly eventually) pro level play. (Note – from here on, “m” will designate meters). Of that, each end has an end zone of 8 m so that the regular playing area is 72 m with two end zones (8 m each). There is a small area called the hub measuring 0.6 m by 0.6 m (approximately 2 feet by 2 feet) in each end zone. Hubs are located 2 m from the front edge of the hub (or 2.3 m from its center) to the edge of the playing field (i.e. field/ end zone line), and the center of each hub is 20 m from each sideline. Each hub is a square of grass that is colored differently (e.g. using white or colored chalk) or has a colored rope square (with while or colored cloth wrapped over the rope to make it more visible). The hubs are to be easily visible from at least 22 m distance from their center..
Also, two parallel lines (parallel also to the sidelines) are in each end zone. Both are 13 m from the nearest sideline to it. The distance between these lines is 14 m (for a total of 40 m, i.e. the width of the field). So each of these lines, called the “7 meter lines”, are exactly 7 m from the center of their hub (using an imaginary perpendicular line to them).
Once the sport becomes popular, elite level size of the field will be used. But until then the following field size may be used for adult play for unofficial play and official league play.
Length: 60 m
Width: 34 m
End zone lengths: 8 m each
Total field length including end zones: 76 m
Everything else is the same as the elite field, i.e. same size of hubs and location from edge of end line of field (2 m), and same 7 meter lines (7 m from an imaginary line running lengthwise through the center of the field).
3. Number of Players Each team starts with 8 players on the field (and 8 is the maximum for players on the field) and up to 20 players can play in any one game. Ample substitutions (refer to that article) make it possible for any number from 8 up to 20 can be active at some point in a game. A team may start with 7 players if short a player, and later on add that player on the field or play the match with 7. Six or fewer players is a forfeit loss for the shorthanded team. For recreational play, six players as a minimum may be allowed, but not for higher levels of play.
In recreational league play, it is acceptable for a team with 5 or 6 players at the start of playing time to “recruit” a new member to avoid a forfeit, provided that recruit is not with any other team (and of course signs the necessary agreements, waivers, etc.). This “recruit” provision will not be allowed in tournament play or any type of scholastic play, only in regular recreational play such as local leagues (to minimize forfeits and allow players to play).
4. Ball A mini soccer ball is the type of ball that used. The size and weight is about 48 cm circumference (18.8 inches) and 191 -200 gm (6.7 – 7.0 ounces).
5. Basic Concept of the Game The terms “Side A” and “Side B” are used from here on to differentiate the teams. The players on Side A throw the ball to their team members with the intent of keeping the ball from hitting the ground, going out of bounds, or being intercepted. They attempt to advance the ball downfield, similar to disc ultimate. The other side B attempts to disrupt Side A, without intruding any closer than one meter towards any A player, to get control of the ball (by causing a dropped ball, errant throw, or interception). If Side A gets the ball down to the end zone they can score points as described under Scoring.
If Side A loses control of the ball before scoring (i.e. making a turnover by dropped or errant throw), Side B takes over at the point where the last throw was made. And if the ball is intercepted, Side B takes over at the place of the interception and play continues (is not stopped in that case).
The thrower is allowed up to two steps in the throw, and number of steps allowed on a catch is also two (i.e. two steps after the ball is in the receiver’s hands). A third step in either case results in a turnover. Each throw must be done within 6 seconds of controlling the ball (i.e. once catch is complete, 6 seconds begins). So a player must keep the ball moving with no more than 6 seconds of ball-in-hands control.
It is allowable to receive a ball while taking two steps and make an immediate pass (to another player) after receiving the ball (another two steps are allowed, for 4 total in this sequence) all on the run. Any more than 4 total steps is a violation and a turnover.
Refer to Legal Offensive and Defensive Play for more details on receiving, interceptions, and legal defensive play.
6. Object of the Game The object is to score the most total points. Each game is two, 30 minute halves with designated breaks and added on time by the referee (see Game Duration).
7. Scoring Terms defined: The terms used for scoring are (1) end zone catch called a “zone” and (2) a throw that hits inside the hub called a “hub shot score”. And in the future, after the tassel details are finalized, (3) a “GT” score that is a grabbed tassel (see Tassel GT Scoring – Future).
Scoring can also occur on ejections and on referee-assessed point penalty situations (covered under the Ejection and Point Penalty articles).
A point is scored if a team completes a pass in the opponent’s end zone (i.e. typically after going down field after completing successful passes). The player who scores (after stopping where they are in the end zone, with up to 2 steps as with any catch, must wait for a “proceed” signal or call from the ref. Then the player may shoot for the hub. A hub shot must be stationary – no steps allowed.
The spot where the hub shot is to be taken is determined by the ref and is where the second step lands during the end zone catch. A catch that is made out of bounds in the end zone area is no score (a turnover) if either of the two steps touches (or goes over) the sidelines or line at the back of the end zone.
For a hub shot a ball that hits inside the edge of the hub (i.e. a direct or arc throw hitting the hub area first and does not touch the ground first) is one added point. This would be 2 total for that team including the zone score.
If the hub shot was from beyond the 7 meter line so that the hub shot was 7 meters or more, it is 2 points (3 points for that team including the zone score). So a team can go for an end zone catch purposely at least 7 meters from the hub in order to go for the 2 point hub shot.
If the player taking the hub shot exceeds 10 seconds once given the proceed signal by the ref, a “no hub shot” call will be made and no shot is allowed (or if the shot is taken after that time, it is disallowed). If the shot is from behind the 7 meter line, 15 seconds are allowed before a no hub shot call. Also, if a player is unable to take the shot (cramped up or injured, for example), they can be given another 10 seconds by the ref if requested by the player and approved, but only if the ref approves of the extra time. A no hub shot call also is made if the player moves from the spot where the shot is to be taken – no movement from the spot is allowed (i.e. both feet must be planted).
After the hub shot, the other side takes over the ball as described under Start of Play/ Positioning.
Also, one point is possible for a GT score by a player with the ball at any time and any place on the field if a defender gets too close, as covered in the next section.
8. Tassel (GT) Scoring – Future The use of tassels is a future development and will not be part of the initial rollout of this sport. Once an approved design(s) of the tassel and the tassel’s attachment to shirt is finalized, the use of tassels and these tassel scoring provisions will apply. Until then, tassels are not required and GT scoring does not apply.
To assure that defenders cannot harass the player with the ball too closely, the basic rule of one meter separation is always in effect. That rule is standard (applies with the sport with or without the tassel provisions).
But to further assure that defenders keep their distance, every player will wear a small looped cord called a tassel on one shoulder. It is a 25 cm (approx. 10 inch) rope-like fabric, cord, or actual rope snippet that is looped to extend out from the shoulder and attached on the shoulder. A snap-on attachment is one possible method that may be used, but others are possible. Typically a right-handed player will use the left shoulder for the tassel, and a left-handed player will use the right shoulder, but it up to each player where to place it.
If a player with the ball grabs the tassel from a close defender (that gets too close) and it comes free a one point grabbed tassel (GT) score is made. The ref stops play and allows the defender to reattach the tassel. Note – the grab attempt does not require the offensive player to hold on to the tassel after it is dislodged to be a GT score – it is a GT score if becomes unattached from the defender’s shirt.
The high cost of getting a GT score against them gives all defenders an added incentive to stay clear of the player with the ball. Only the player with the ball can make a GT score.
The player with ball cannot take any steps toward the defender in a GT score (only reaching action with one of the arms is allowed), and cannot make a GT play while throwing the ball or taking the maximum 2 steps prior to the throw. A GT play attempt is only a counter-defensive action by the ball holder while a defender is crowding him/her. The next throw still must be done in the required seconds, so the GT attempt is also risky for the ball holder.
After a GT score, the offensive team thrower retains the ball with 6 seconds allowed at the restart.
9. Legal Offensive and Defensive Play Offensive players try to get free to receive a pass and can move anywhere on the playing field, including either end zone. Likewise defenders can move around anywhere on the playing field. There is one exception to this as explained (under the Player and Referee Roles, see “consig” defensive position limits). This is a free movement sport with no lines of scrimmage or off-sides. Players do have to stay on the field (and cannot go out of bounds).
While defenders guarding receivers can try to block passes, deflect the passes, or intercept them, they cannot intrude closer that one meter to an offensive player, except when reaching up/jumping at a thrown ball. In that case, a defender can get closer than one meter while trying to catch or deflect the ball, but cannot contact the intended receiver. This type of interference of contact by a defender is covered under Infractions.
Also a defender when near to the thrower must stay more than one meter from the thrower to avoid an intrusion infraction. (See Intrusion, under Infractions).
On catches and on interceptions, only 2 steps are allowed by whoever catches the ball. For the offensive receiver it is 2 steps maximum during the catch, and for the interceptor also 2 steps maximum during an interception. The ball may be bobbled during those two steps, and there can be contact between both intended receiver and defender, but the player who catches the ball can only move 2 steps during the sequence. Any more than 2 steps is a turnover, even if the ball is caught (right after the ball is caught).
If a defender makes a legal interception, the player then that team is now on offense and must make a throw within 6 seconds after they have the ball, and no stoppage of play occurs.
If an intended receiver slips and falls right after catching the ball or during the catch, that player may land on both hands including the one with the ball. It is okay for the receiver in that case to have the ball briefly touch the ground since control was established prior to the catch. But a trapped ball (i.e. control of the ball occurs only between the ground and body) is not a catch and is a turnover.
All throws must travel at least 1.5 meters. Any short throw less than 1.5 m (or handing off the ball by one player to another) is a “no throw.” Also it is a “no throw” if a player intentionally kicks the ball to another player. Unintentional contact of the ball below the waist is allowed. “No throw” violations are turnovers.
10. Duration and Breaks Each half is 30 minutes, with an official 1 to 2 minute break for hydration midway through the first half plus two second half breaks. One second half break is at the 40 minute point for one minute, and one is at the 50 minute point for 40-60 seconds. Each team can call two timeouts per half, or save their first half timeouts and use up to 4 in the second half. Timeouts are one minute unless a player is injured, then up to 4 minutes (referee’s discretion) to treat or remove player.
For any injured player who does not require a timeout, they must come off and a substitute is made. If there are no substitutes available, the team plays short one player (if the injured player cannot continue).
Also, the ref may award an uncharged timeout to a team if their player was injured by the other team’s actions, and up to 2 minutes allowed for the player to be treated or taken off. This will usually be done along with an infraction warning and possibly a penalty given to the offending team.
At the end go the first half, up to 3 minutes of extra time can be given by the ref, and up to 4 minutes at the end of regulation time.
11. Substitutions Up to 20 players are eligible to play in any game (8 on the field and 12 on the bench). To sub in a player, notice to the ref is not required. One or more players (up to the number of players on the field for a team) can be subbed in after a turnover, a break or timeout, an official stoppage of play (such as for an infraction or injury), or a score.
The only substitution exceptions are; (1) the team captain must report to the ref when subbed out and announce who is replacing him/her as captain, (2) a player who scores on a pass in the end zone (zone score) cannot be subbed out at that point since they must take the hub shot, and (3) a player on penalty cannot go back in before the penalty is served and an ejected player cannot be subbed back in.
Matches are supposed to have an official scorer/ timekeeper on the sidelines, but this may not always be possible. One role of this person is to assure that the correct number of players are on the field. If there is an official scorer, each person substituted in should call out their number to the scorer and the number of the subbed out player (e.g. “no. 4 in for no. 7”). The players on the field at any given time can then be logged in with an “in/out” log.
If a team has more than 20 players, the 20 who are eligible need to be indicated to the ref before start of play. None of the others (over the 20 limit) can play although they can remain on the sidelines. A maximum of 10 non-players can be on the sidelines but they should either wear something other than the team jerseys or have a jacket/ sweatshirt over them so the ref will know they are non-players. This limit of 30 (20 potential players and 10 non-eligible) does not include coaches and staff. Any reasonable number of staff or coaches are allowed on the sidelines.
12. Turnovers, Infractions, Warnings, Penalties, and Ejections
Turnovers A turnover is when the side with the ball must give up possession. When a turnover occurs, players can stay where they are or move a few meters before the restart, similar to soccer. The following cause a turnover (Side A to Side B).
- Incomplete pass – ball is turned over and restart occurs at spot of thrown ball, not where it was batted away, dropped, or went out of bounds
- Intercepted pass – interceptor must come to a stop within 2 steps after the catch, then continues with play (more than 2 steps by interceptor will be a turnover)
- Infraction by offensive side – ball is turned over at the point where the infraction occurred (see Infractions)
- Thrower takes more than 6 seconds – the ref silently should count the first 3 seconds (1000-1,1000-2,1000-3) and out loud for the next 3 seconds “1000-4,1000-5,1000-out”. Note the word “out” indicates the point when the throw must leave the thrower’s hand (or before). If not thrown, it is a turnover at that spot.
- Receiver may take up to 2 steps after reception of the ball. If more are taken it is a turnover at that spot.
- Thrower has up to 2 steps during the throwing motion. If three or more steps are taken it is a turnover at that spot. Note – it is OK to take a post throw “follow-through” third step as long as the ball leaves the thrower’s hand before the start of the third step (i.e. the third step is a follow-through after the throw and not during it).
- Step violation – player with ball must keep one foot anchored and pivot off that foot, and the other foot or leg can extend out, move, or stay in place; a step violation would be moving the pivot foot
- The “consig” player (see player position section; this is the one player on each side who may not go over the half line) of Side A has possession of the ball on Side B’s half of the field or makes contact with the ball on Side B’s half
- Throws that are under 1.5 m or that are handed off from one player to another are “no throw” turnovers. Also intentionally kicking the ball for it to advance is a turnover. An exception is a throw that is completed but between the throw and catch is deflected below the waist unintentionally by the receiver or by another player (on either side) – that is acceptable provided it was not intentionally kicked to advance it.
Infractions The following are the primary infractions, but others based on referee discretion are possible.
- Defensive player intrusion – a defender near the ball holder must stay far enough from that player to avoid being touched (by the player with the ball). If the player with the ball, prior to taking any steps or throwing reaches out with either hand and makes contact with the defender, the defender has intruded in his/her space. This includes even the slightest touch of a defender’s outstretched hand (toward the ball holder). Play is stopped and the defender must disengage. To “disengage” means the defender must back off at least 5 meters from the ball holder, and then the ref restarts play. This should be done fairly quickly as to not slow down play. Play is restarted and the player with the ball has a new full 6 seconds to make a throw (even if the player had used any amount of 6 seconds before the violation).
- It is possible for 2 defenders (both pressuring the ball holder) to have intrusions violations – both must disengage and move 5 m away. Note – the 5 m does not need to be exact. The ref can quickly point to where 5 m is and restart play as the intruding defender(s) retreat.
- An overly aggressive intrusion touch by the ball holder may be an offensive violation and may be a turnover (referee’s discretion). A slap or punch at the defender’s hand or body would be a violation and turnover.
- Offensive player (with ball) throws or attempts to throw the ball but charges into a defender while making the 2 (max.) steps. Ref must decide if the defender had position and if so it is a charge by the thrower. This results in a turnover.
- Contact by either offensive or defensive players moving around the field who do not have the ball (or are not near the ball holder) is limited to incidental (e.g. brush-by) contact. If the contact is intentional, a warning may be assessed (see Warnings) based on referee judgment.
- Interference by defender prior to or during a catch – ref can decide not to call this if the receiver catches the ball, and should allow a no-call continuation if the play continues to another throw and catch. If the receiver is not able to catch a ball that is catchable, a warning may be assessed. In that case, the ball location is spotted where the interference took place, and the intended receiver gets the ball and play is restarted. Obvious fouls such as a grabbed jersey or moderately hard hit (by defender) should always cause a warning.
- Intentionally thrown ball into a defender – this infraction causes a turnover, warning and a penalty (see 5 Minute Penalty). Ball thrown closely past a defender’s head but does not hit him/her is typically not an infraction, unless the ref thinks it is intentional (then it is a warning). Ball thrown hard intentionally into a defender’s head is cause for ejection.
- Bad language or gestures – whether towards a player or a ref, this is possibly a warning (referee’s discretion) and if done more than once by any player it must be a warning, and may lead to penalty or ejection.
Warnings The ref should give a warning for semi-serious to serious violations. Play is stopped, warning given, and play is restarted. Upon the ref’s discretion, the second or third (at the most) warning to any one player will result in a 5 Minute Penalty. Typically if the second warning is unrelated to the first warning to a player no (5 min.) penalty is assessed. The third warning to that player of any kind results in a penalty. If the first and second warnings were of the same type, or if in ref’s discretion very overt, then a penalty is to be given.
A warning is given in each of the following cases.
- Overt contact (non-incidental contact) – note incidental contact such as brushing by a while moving downfield is not considered as overt
- Defensive specialist referred to as “consig” or “conz” (see Player and Referee Roles) cannot go over his/her own side’s team’s half line
- Ball intentionally thrown into a defender (warning and penalty), note – ball thrown near a defender but not intentionally at him/her is not cause for a warning and play continues
- Ball intentionally thrown into a defender’s head (warning, penalty & ejection)
- Warning may given if the ref believes a player used either bad language or gestures toward an opponent or toward the ref. This also applies to the coach, staff, and team members on the bench
- Bad behavior or dangerous behavior will cause a warning and at a minimum a (5 min.) penalty and exceedingly bad behavior or violence of any kind will cause immediate ejection
- A warning and penalty will given for ANY type of foot or leg attack by a player at another player (including a tripping attempt, a kick, etc.), even if no contact was made, and the second time that player does a leg or foot attack they should be ejected
- Also refer to “last chance” type of warning (see Ejection)
5 Minute Penalty If the ref gives a penalty to a player and it is his/her first one, the player goes to the sidelines for 5 minutes (note – scorer/ timekeeper keeps track of penalty time and if there is no official scorer , the ref keeps track to that time). The player or a coach or other sideline person also can track the time, and can request to go back in at next stop of play. That may exceed 5 minutes. Once ref decides the player can return during a stop of play, they may go back, but not before the ref okays it. If a player goes back in before ref OK’s it, it may cause another warning to be given.
The team plays with one fewer player as the penalty is served (e.g. if it occurred when they had 7 on the field, they play with 6 during the penalty period). And with more than one player from one side that gets a penalty at the same time – each one results in one fewer player on the field for that side.
A sub may come in for the penalized player once the penalty is served but not before, and the coach may often prefer that (keeping the player on the bench) to avoid the possible ejection of that player later on. If any player gets a second penalty they are ejected.
- A penalty is given for actions described under Warnings
- Any action considered as unsportsmanlike conduct could cause the ref to give a penalty to the offending player – referee has discretion on these calls but should always try to use warnings first
Point Penalty If a person NOT on the field such as a coach, sideline player, or staff member yells or acts unacceptably from the sidelines or comes on the field (or other unsportsmanlike acts), the referee can warn them to stop. This is covered under Warnings. But if the bad behavior continues, a point penalty can be made by the ref. One point is awarded in that case to the other team. A maximum of 2 point penalties assessed to one team are possible in any match whether both are on one person or different persons. If a coach, staff, or team member is still a problem after that, they will be expelled from the field by security (and no more point penalties will be given to that side).
Ejection Ejection of a player causes that team to play with one fewer player. Two maximum ejections are allowed for a team. After two ejections that are allowed, a team cannot have a third ejection. A third team ejection immediately ends the match in all cases and that team loses the match. This applies whether the team started with 8 players or with 7 players (i.e. in the latter case they may play with five players after two ejections, but not with four).
One point is awarded to the other team for the first ejection, and two points for the second ejection.
The ref should avoid having a match end on ejections if at all possible. This should be a rare event.
For record keeping purposes, the final score in the unlikely case that ejections end the match are (1) the score that it is if the other side has more points (no score change needed), (2) if the team with the loss has more points, they lose by one point more than their points at the time of the ending of the match (e.g. if they were ahead 14-11, even after the ejection points are included they lose 15-14), and if no score had been made (0-0) the loss is by a 1-0 score.
Ejection situations are all covered under Warnings. Other ejection requirements are as follows.
- The referee should avoid ejecting a player by use of a “last chance” Official Final Warning. If a player already has served a 5 minute penalty and made another infraction, the ref should stop play (after the player’s infraction or questionable behavior) and give that player a last chance type official final warning. After that, any significant infraction made by that player MUST result in ejection. (No second final warning is allowed under any circumstances – ejection must occur at that point). A very minor unintentional infraction later on by that player (after final warning), however, may be disregarded by the ref (at his/her discretion) and play continues with no stoppage.
- An ejected player does not have to leave the field sidelines and may watch from the sidelines if requested to the ref and okayed, but if not okayed by the ref, must leave the field areas
- Player, coach or staff member expelled from field – Refer to Point Penalty text; this is done after up to two point penalties are assessed, but the ref may also expel a player, coach or staff member at any time if the offending act is egregious (and a point is awarded as well).
13. Start of Play/ Positioning After coin toss by referee decided by captains under referee’s supervision, the side or possession determination is made by coin toss winner. Side A (with ball) goes to their half of field and Side B to their half. Ball holder is anywhere on their (Side A) end zone line at start of play. Other than that player (with the ball), all other players on both sides can position themselves at the start anywhere on their half of field. Typically the defenders will position themselves near the midfield line. Once whistle is blown, play starts. Players can move anywhere on the playing field after that (with exception of the “consig” defensive specialist on each team).
The same procedure is used after a zone score (following the hub shot). The non-scoring team that was on defense starts with the ball at their end line. The second half start also uses the same procedure.
14. Halftime/Second Half Halftime is 10 minutes total duration unless it is very warm and humid, then (upon discretion of ref) it is 13-15 minutes. If hot conditions apply that require a lot of hydration, more halftime than 15 minutes may be allowed and it should not exceed 20 minutes total.
Second half: Side A and B switch sides and start of play in second half (ball in possession) is from the team who was on defense at start of match.
15. Tie Score/ Tie-breaking Shots If the match is tied at regulation time (including the up to 4 minutes of extra time that has been allowed), then the following tie-breaking situation occurs.
- Six players for each side are selected by each captain to be shot takers who take hub shots.
- One of the hubs will be used (the other is not used – captains and ref decide which one).
- The first round of shots are from a spot 3 meters from the field/ end zone line and in line with that hub. So a shot must go 5 meters to get into the hub (i.e. 5 m from spot to edge of hub).
- Player 1 from Side A takes 5 shots from that 5 meter location with both feet planted at the spot (and cannot move from that position and any movement off that spot, if called by ref, negates that hub shot).
- As with all hub shots any touch of the ball on the fly in the hub area is a score.
- Score of 0 to 5 is possible for first player (every shot that hits in the hub is a point). Side B does the same (5 shots), and if one side has more points, the match ends and they win.
- If still tied after the first shooters are done, then Player 2 from each side will get 4 shots each, and if one side has more points they win, and if still tied, then:
- Player 3 from each side gets 3 shots each, and if still tied, then:
- Player 4 from each side gets 2 shots each, and if still tied, then:
- Player 5 from each gets one shot, and (if tied still) Player 6 gets one shot each, then:
- Most likely the match will have been decided well before that point, but if not the entire sequence is started again from 9 meters instead of 5 meters for the hub shots. It is not anticipated that more than 9 meters will be needed in a tie-breaking shootout, but if so, then 11 meters is the next spot and the sequence is the same from there.
16. Player and Referee Roles Each team has a Team Captain who is their representative on the field, and performs the usual captain’s roles. If the captain comes off, another captain is designated by him/her as their captain. (The original captain can return as captain later but again it must be pointed out again to the ref who the captain is). The captain is the only player who talks with the ref during discussions that the referee initiates or allows (i.e. is the sole team rep on the field). Other players may try to talk to the ref while the game is under way but the ref has no obligation to listen or to allow that discussion and may stop it at any time.
The primary offensive player on a team who coordinates the offense on the field is called the “Key Hubster” (or KH). That player may or may not be the captain. The KH role is not an official role but one of position, as a quarterback is leader of the offense in (American) football.
The primary defensive lead position is called the “Consig” (for consigliere) or “Conz” for short. That player coordinates the defense on the field. The “consig” or “conz” must stay on his/her half of the field at all times, and is the only player that cannot move to the opposite team’s side of the field. The consig/conz will be a useful back outlet option for a player on offense with the ball that needs to get his/her throw off and has covered receivers. In that case the “conz” will typically go to a predictable area on that team’s side of the field to receive the ball (similar to a goalkeeper being a safe back pass for a soccer player). The consig (“conz”) can catch and make throws from anywhere on his/her half of the of field.
If a consig player gets taken off for any reason (injury, substitution, penalty, etc.) another player must take that position. Since there is always a consig player on each side, the team with the ball never has all of their players on the field able to be on the other side’s half of the field, i.e. one player is always confined to their own half and considered as the “consig” player.
All other players are referred to as “hubsters” or just players.
The referee handles all the typical referee activities: coin toss, making sure the right number of players are on the field, assuring that no more than 20 are eligible per team, start/stop of play, signaling on turnovers, restarts play after a turnover, counts for the 6 seconds per throw limit, acknowledges scoring, warnings/penalties, ending disputes, keeping overall time and of timeouts, etc. A whistle is used to regulate play. A system of hand signals will eventually be developed for refs. Until that time the ref can quickly explain the call (and restart play) and does not need to elaborate in detail.
Also, if a referee believes a player is too injured to play (either before the start of play or during play), the ref may disqualify that player from play. The primary responsibility for a player staying out of play if they are too injured or sick to play, however, is with the player (or guardian if they are a dependent youth). And the secondary responsibility is with the coach and/or team administrator.
While this is designed to be a relatively safe sport and it is not envisioned that there will be many injuries in this sport, it is essential that players, coaches, trainers, and team officials MUST be proactive in keeping any players off the field (including themselves) if they are not physically able to compete, or if they are not sufficiently used to going barefoot on grass or dirt and/or do not accept the challenges of being barefoot.
Also coaches, staff, and sideline personnel must apply first aid when needed for their players; that first aid role is the team’s responsibility, not the referee’s. In the rare case of a major injury, the referee may at his or her discretion assist in helping the injured player off the field, but only if requested by the team.
Usually only one referee is the only official. But as the sport becomes more popular it is envisioned that an assistant and maybe others will be added.
An assistant referee (if one can be added) can take on some of the ref’s chores. These include keeping track of the 6 seconds per throw (with whistle is used for turnover for excessive throw time) and assisting on intrusion type (close-in) calls around the ball holder and nearby defender. Also the assistant can keep track of substitutions and the number of players on the field. Other chores can be off-loaded as needed.
An official scorer and timekeeper should also be on the sidelines for each match. In addition to score tracking and timekeeping, that person can can oversee the 5 minute time for a person on a penalty, assist on assuring the correct number of players are on the field at all times, making sure disqualified players do not go back in play, and possibly also a few other minor roles that can be easily done from the sidelines.
17. Clothing and Team Colors Warm weather play will typically be in shorts and short sleeved tee-shirts with the same color scheme for all players on each side. (Short sleeve jerseys are of course okay instead of tee-shirts). If the team colors are the same for both sides, one team will need to wear different colored shorts or shirts (or both) than their usual colors. Before the match the ref can assure that both teams do not have the same colors – a coin toss with captains can be used to decide which side makes a change.
In moderate/ mild weather, play can either be in shorts and tee-shirts or in shorts and long-sleeved jerseys.
In cool or fairly cold weather, the shorts can be longer versions that extend up to 25 cm below the base of the knees or cut-off pants can be used instead (up to 25 cm below the knees). The jerseys can be heavy duty type material (and multiple undershirts or tees can be used as desired) or they can be sweatshirt-type, but not jackets. Long pants are not acceptable. In cool or fairly cold weather some players may want to keep their feet warm when on the sidelines – this is covered under Temperature Limits and Weather Issues.
The feet are normally bare but there are allowances for socks as described in this article. No footwear of any kind is allowed. Tape on the toes or ankles is okay, and it is okay to have some tape on the rest of the feet but they cannot be fully covered. If a player arrives on the field with fully taped feet they will not be allowed to play. If a player is afraid to be barefoot or thinks it is too cold (or otherwise not acceptable) for them, they should NOT play under any circumstances. They should notify their coach that they are not comfortable playing this sport and the coach should act accordingly.
The referee can wear suitable referee clothes and can wear footwear or go barefoot. The scorer/timekeeper is on the sidelines and can wear ordinary clothes (so does not need any special apparel to stand out) and can wear footwear or not as they choose.
Soft padded objects (knee pads, elbow pads, headbands, soft bandages, etc.) are okay. Ball caps and soft hats are okay. Large, soft sun-shielding hats may be okay unless they are overly large.
No hard objects can be worn onto the field such as watches, jewelry that is not concealed (other than small rings which are okay), helmets, hard hats, hard casts, metal braces, etc. Any hard metal or plastic object can cause injury to another player and must be kept off the field. The only exceptions are (1) eyeglasses/ goggles/ sunglasses, (2) nose protectors for players with an injured nose, (3) personal protective devices (under the clothes, or a mouthguard), and (4) any objects agreed to by both team captains and the referee (all three must agree).
No sharp objects or long (or sharp) fingernails are allowed.
Jerseys may have advertising or sponsor graphics on them, but it is advisable that they should not include sports footwear companies. This sport is designed to be one that promotes playing sports barefoot, not using footwear. And so it is recommended that teams should avoid being under the influence of firms that have a vested interest in selling sports footwear and not promoting being barefoot. However, leagues can make their own rules on these matters.
Use of Socks (Stockings Without Shoes) It is acceptable to use socks (stockings) on the sidelines at all times at the discretion of each person. Use of socks on the field of play is generally not allowed for this sport. But there are situations when sock use is acceptable as follows.
For official scholastic tournament and league play at senior high school, college, and (if applicable) semi-pro level – rules on sock use:
Except for two situations, socks are not allowed on the playing field, unless league/tournament directors agree on other sock use. The two situations where socks can always be used on the playing field are (1) a player that gets a cut or an open bleeding wound may use a single soft, flexible sock on that foot to cover bandages that could get loose, and (2) any other injury or medical condition on a foot that requires tape or bandages to be used may use a sock over the tape or bandages.
For all other matches other than than official high school or college scholastic (and semi-pro) matches – rules on socks use:
Barefoot Hub Ball should nearly always be played barefoot if the weather is warm or moderate, but there are several situations where socks are allowable. These include cold/cool temperatures at or below recommended minimums (as described in Article 20), protection of an injured foot (to cover bandages and other first aid), a medical condition, possible bee-sting protection for a player with a bee/wasp/other venom allergy, an acute psychological condition, etc. These and related situations are acceptable provided that the socks are 100 percent soft fabric. Socks cannot have any metal, hard plastic, rigid, or sharp materials. Socks usage in these situations is at the discretion and responsibility of the player using them, but the referee may disallow them if they are not totally soft and flexible. Also the ref may require a player to wear socks if the player has long, sharp toenails and the opponent’s coach or captain objects to that player’s nails as hazardous.
This sport is barefoot sport and not a “barefoot-or-socks” sport. If an entire team goes on the playing field in socks (and otherwise appropriately clad), unless cold weather is the reason for this, the referee should disallow them from play. Teams with no barefoot players in warm or moderate weather are not in accord with this sport. A team with no barefoot players is disrespecting the sport, and it is poor sportsmanship. Also, no league, tournament, coach, manager, or other authority should mandate that all of a team’s players should use socks – each player has the freedom to be barefoot in all cases at their discretion. Personal responsibility of each player for their own feet is the obligation and right of each player.
Use of socks on the field for very young players (e.g. ages 5 and 6) may also be determined by their parents or guardians and can and usually should be allowed by the coach or manager. Older kids (7 and above) should be allowed to make their own choice on socks use, but the coach/manager can decide this in conjunction with the parents/guardians on a case by case basis. Refs should accommodate those decisions and not overrule them.
18. Numbering Each player shall have a number on the back of their shirt. The numbers for each member of a team need to be different from all others (no duplicate numbers). These can be anything from 00, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4…up through 49. Numbers 50 and above are reserved for referees and other officials.
19. Start and End of Games Ritual and Sportsmanship As with many outdoor and indoor sports, mutual team friendship is emphasized. Each team shall (under the direction of the ref) form a line and greet using social distancing with members of the other team. Handshaking is not required and not recommended. The same ritual must be done after the match. Also it is encouraged (but not mandatory) that teams share beverages, snacks, and water or sports drinks with the other team at breaks and near the end of halftime, especially if one team has brought insufficient water and that the other team can offer help.
Players should play the sport in the best of sportsmanship and show concern for the safety and health of all other players, including the opponents.
To help avoid dehydration of any players, the ref or scorer may extend a break period to be sure all players have been properly hydrated, and that can include asking the other team to provide water or sports drinks if one team is short. And if so, this should be done willingly by the teams as all players should want to avoid any player having severe dehydration.
20. Temperature Limits and Weather Issues Since this sport must be played barefoot and some players may not easily adjust to cold weather in bare feet, the flowing limits are recommended. Note; any player that cannot handle cool or slightly cold weather has the responsibility to ask not to play or be taken out if already on the field. Likewise it is the responsibility of any coach to prevent a player from playing in that situation. Any player not on the field can, if they choose, use socks, foot apparel (e.g. warmers), or footwear at ANY time while on the sidelines.
Recommended Minimum Temperature Limits – Adults or Older Teens (One Gender or Coed)
- Dry conditions and no wind or little wind; 12 C (54 F)
- Dry conditions and windy; 14 C (57 F)
- Damp or wet conditions and very slight wind; 14 C (57 F)
- Damp or wet conditions and windy; 15 C (59 F)
The coaches, captains, and staff/ players can decide prior to a match if they want to play the match, The referee can also make recommendations but these do not have to be followed on this issue. The decision to play is up to the teams, and they take full responsibility for the decision. They may decide to hold to these recommended limits, set a higher limit, or set a slightly lower limit. These limits are recommendations only.
For league play where matches are scheduled well before they are played and the weather can be forecast, it is advisable that the league make rules and procedures for postponing a match or canceling it. The weather may be too cold for most of the players to play barefoot.
In no case should play be done in dangerous weather such as storms, lightning, very high winds, etc. The referee should not allow play under those conditions. Likewise, if bad weather starts after the match is under way, the ref can stop the match. It will then need to be replayed at another time.
Recommended Limits for Youth Matches (Under Age 16)
It is recommended that higher temperature limits for youth leagues and non-league games be established. This would be age 15 or younger. The younger the players, the higher the limits. A good guideline for youths might be starting with limits for all wet or dry conditions at 15 C (59 F) and over time deciding if lower limits can be set. And for very young players, a slightly higher starting limit may be necessary (e.g. 16 C or 61 F) as nearly any healthy athlete of any age should be able to handle those conditions even with significant wind.
Absolute Low Temperature and Weather Limits As stated previously, no match should be played if lightning is seen or a storm is moving in. A match in progress must be postponed or cancelled. The same holds true for any hazardous weather or any imminent threat of dangerous weather.
No match should be played in cold or near freezing (air temperature or wind chill) conditions and the match should end even if in progress if the temperatures drop below these air temperature levels, unless both teams agree to play. Then they can continue at their discretion.
- Adult or older teen matches: 11 C (52 F)
- Youth matches (under 16): 13 C (55 F)
- Very young players: 15 C (59 F)
While none of these temperatures are particularly hazardous, and while experienced “barefooters” (persons who are barefoot most or all of the time, such as the inventor of this sport) often have no problem being barefoot in colder conditions and sometimes in MUCH colder temperatures for short durations, it is not the intent of this sport to push anyone beyond their limits of low temperature. The intent is for players to have fun and not have cold feet. So conservative limits are advised.
21. Safety of the Field and First Aid Public soccer fields and other public grass playing fields are usually very safe for competitive sports and for contact with skin. This includes bare feet. So bare feet should not be a concern typically. But to be sure the field used for Barefoot Hub Ball is safe, the teams should proactively check with the field administrators or field maintenance to be sure no chemicals have been recently applied that are toxic for human skin, including the feet. Also it is necessary to check and be sure no automatic sprinkler heads are above ground at game time (since a foot contacting a sprinkler head can easily be injured). The teams should check if there are any other hazards, especially those that could hurt a foot (such sharp debris on the field, or an area close to the field that has sharp rocks or objects with sharp edges). The same guidelines for field safety apply to any other non-public field, i.e. private fields.
It is the responsibility of the teams to assure that the field is safe, and not the referee.
Anyone who has allergies to beestings or stinging insects and is of risk of anaphylactic shock or other sting-related health effects should not play this sport as it is very possible to get a sting on any grass field. That includes the best well-maintained soccer fields. If a person has such an allergy and elects to play they do so at their own risk. They should follow all the recommendations of their doctor such as having medicines available with them to counter anaphylactic shock or other sting-related complications.
The field should be confirmed to be hygienically clean before use by the teams. It should be checked by the teams before the matches to be sure there are no hygienic hazards such as garbage, dog feces or other animal feces. Any such hazards should be safely removed.
Teams should have at least one person well versed in first aid and a first kit or kits with them at the match. Most injuries that may require first aid will be very minor scratches and scrapes, so the usual supplies should be readily available (especially antiseptic or alcohol, bandages, tape, cleaning materials, etc.).
22. Coed Version The coed rules are the same as the single gender (standard) rules with the following exceptions:
- Of the 8 players on the field, 4 minimum of the players must be female. It is OK to have 5 females and 3 males on the field, but no less than 3 males at the start. And if short one female at the start, then only three males can start (6 total, 3 of each). If late to the start of match, the 4th female can be added in when she arrives, and a 4th male can then be added as well.
- In all cases, there must be as many (or more) females on the field as males, except if a female is ejected during a match. In that case the team can play with one more male than female. A second ejection of a female will cause that team to forfeit at that point, 4 males and 2 females, unless they can replace a male player with a female (to 3 and 3; that is OK).
- An end zone score must be; (1) male pass and female catch, (2) female pass and male catch, or (3) female to female score. A male-to-male pass and catch play in the end zone is no score and is a turnover.
- All other passes and catches in the field other than zone scoring plays can involve any combination of male and female (male-to-male, female/female, male/female, female/male).
- The “consig” player can be either gender.
- In a tiebreaker shootout from the 5 m spot, the same rules apply except the order of shooters must alternate male, then female, then male, then female, etc. The first shooter (with 5 shots) can be male or female, but alternating gender is required for the order.
There is no rule or guideline on transgender players so leagues can handle that issue as per their own rules and decisions. Inclusiveness should be encouraged.
23. Official Youth Versions There will be three youth versions, (1) very young players ages 6 through 9, (2) preteen players ages 10 through 12, (3) under 16 players ages 13 through 15. There may also be an under 18 version for ages 16 – 17, but that will generally use the same as the standard rules with a few minor exceptions such as slightly different temperature limits.
Very Young Version (Ages 6 through 9) A much smaller field is used; 22 m wide by 36 m long, plus two 7 m long end zones (for a total length of 50 m). Also, the “7 meter lines” in each end zone are reduced to 5 meters. The length of the matches is 40 minutes (two 20 minute halves) and with the same 10 min. halftime period, extended as needed. Championship matches including semifinals and finals in tournament play are increased to 50 minutes (two 25 minute halves). Other differences are:
- No tassels are used (and no GT scores are possible)
- A smaller ball is used
- If tied at regulation time (plus extra time), the match ends in a tie and no shootout is done
Preteen Version (Ages 10 through 12) The field is the same as the standard 34 m by 60 m field, or may be smaller; 32 m wide by 56 m long, plus two 8 m long end zones (for a total length of 72 m). The “7 meter lines” are reduced to 6 meters. The length of the matches is 50 minutes (two 25 minute halves) and the same 10 min. halftime period. (As with the standard halftime rules, that may be extended for warm or hot weather). Also no tassels are used. The standard size ball may be used, or a smaller one instead; the league officials can decide if a smaller ball or the regulation size ball should be used. Hub shots determine the winner is there is a tie at end of regulation time (including extra time).
Under 16 Version (Ages 13 – 15) The field may be either the standard size field (34 m wide by 60 m long, plus 8 m end zones) or slightly smaller as determined by league officials. In either case it should be bigger than the Preteen Version field. All other standard adult game rules apply including in the future the use of tassels and GT scoring.
24. Unofficial or Pickup Game Versions It is envisioned that unofficial or pickup game versions of this sport will be played.The following are likely to be primary variations or differences:
- Smaller field size than the standard adult size field or other field sizes
- Fewer players (4, 5, 6 or 7 in lieu of 8)
- More players (possibly as many as 10 or more playing at one time)
- Not using the tassels or having GT scoring even after they become part of the standard game
- Shorter matches
- Longer matches or or untimed matches
- Variations in clothing – nearly any variations that are acceptable to both teams are okay
The sport is for barefoot outdoor play on grass or grassy dirt fields. It is meant to be as natural as possible. That is one of the reasons for requiring barefoot play. Playing this sport in footwear is NOT legitimate Barefoot Hub Ball and should be considered an unacceptable version of this sport. Also playing this sport on artificial turf or other non-natural surfaces is an unacceptable version of this sport.
25. Disclaimer and Indemnification This Disclaimer and Indemnification MUST be included with the Rules of Barefoot Hub Ball. Anyone who plays this sport should read the disclaimer and indemnification and/or have it read to them.
This sport is designed to be a fun barefoot sport. It is designed to be a low impact sport with a low level of potential for significant injuries. Very minor cuts, scratches, stubbed toes, abrasions, bruises, twisted ankles, slip & falls absolutely WILL occur with this sport as they do occur with nearly every outdoor sport (other than very low activity sports such as bocce, shuffleboard, or croquet). Significant injuries will, no doubt, occur in this sport (such as severe sprains or broken bones, especially an occasional broken toe), but it is not expected by the inventor that they will occur frequently.
If the sport is played properly on safe fields, coached properly, administered properly, and officiated properly, the sport should be substantially safer than soccer and tackle football. Also, the sport was developed to have MUCH less potential for CTE and brain injuries than tackle football and will probably have significantly less than soccer as well since head impacts in this sport are expected to be very rare.
Also, there is no guarantee that participant will not have significant injuries and even serious injuries are possible. Participants of Barefoot Hub Ball must accept responsibility for their own safety. Adults and non-dependents must accept full responsibility their own safety. Children or teens that are dependents (and adults that are dependents) need to have their parent or guardian read this disclaimer and that parent/guardian must accept full responsibility for assuring their safety.
Persons who are afraid of going barefoot or who have parents or guardians that are afraid of them going barefoot should not play this sport. Also, as with any sport, serious, possibly fatal events could occur (theoretically).
The inventor of this sport is Tom A. Kutscher. He invented this sport for the purpose of having a fun, safe sport that a wide range of players can play. If you play or are involved with Barefoot Hub Ball you do so at your own risk. And if you wish to use these rules (of Barefoot Hub Ball) to set up or play in matches, leagues, or any other playing of the sport, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless Tom A. Kutscher (inventor of the sport) from any claims, expenses, liabilities, legal actions, disputes, etc. resulting from or involvement with this sport.
Copyright © 2018 by Tom A. Kutscher. All rights reserved.
Note – It is the intent of the inventor of this sport that this document be easily obtainable with no charge or fee to reproduce copies of the Rules, including the Introduction and History section that precedes the Rules. It is acceptable to the inventor to (without permission from the inventor) reproduce and distribute copies of this entire document as long as it is done in full (no partial reproductions). It should be distributed FREE of charge. It may not be sold unless permission is given by inventor Tom A. Kutscher to sell it as part of a book or document that promotes the sport.