Drone Soccer Rules of Play

​Aircraft Classification

Elementary 20cm (110g)

Weighing 110g or less and utilizing 2-cell batteries, this drone is safe for handling by young students and an introduction to drones at the elementary level (ages 5-11). International youth competitions at this category are hosted by the Federation of International Drone Soccer Association (FIDA). 

Secondary 20cm (300g)

A modular high-performance drone using 4-cell batteries for middle and high school Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. International competitions of this size category are hosted by the World Air Sports Federation (FAI). This is the primary youth category adopted by U.S. Drone Soccer and partner countries. 

International 40cm (1.1kg)

A collegiate size in America using 4-cell batteries, this large category is the premier competition of international programs requiring a large field of play. International competitions are hosted by both the Federation of International Drone Soccer Association (FIDA) and World Air Sports Federation (FAI). 

Team Composition

Active Players
Rostered Players per Team
Sets per Match


Full-Contact Gameplay

Drone Soccer Matches are fast-paced contests where each team rams and block each other to prevent the opposing team's designated striker from scoring.

Condensed Rules

Download the 2023 Condensed Rules Booklet here: 

Drone Soccer can be played by teams of equal size (5v5). Each team roster must be coed and may have a maximum of ten players. The 5 active players are referred to as "Pilots", nonflying players are "Crew".

Broken propeller blades can depart the arena at high speeds. Players and referees should wear glasses or protective eyewear when in the vicinity of the arena during active gameplay.

Each Match consists of 3 Sets. The duration of each set is 3 minutes. A 3-5 minute repair countdown between Sets allows for battery exchange, aircraft repair, and substitutions. Thirty minutes are allotted for each Match. 

The winner of each Match is determined by the best of three SetsThe team that scores the most points in the allotted time will be awarded that Set. Teams will play all three Sets for ranking purposes. In the event of a tied Set resulting in a tied Match, the winner of the Match will be decided by Sudden Death in extra time (the first to score wins).

Teams are responsible for ensuring their drones are ready to fly, and that they have enough charged batteries (four per player) before each Match.

  • Teams will clearly designate a Striker before each Set using lighting and/or flags.

  • Teams may place a backup drone ball in the staging area should one of their drones be unable to arm.

  • Teams who do not have drones ready to fly after a warning can elect to fly short handed or will otherwise forfeit that Set.

Other Requirements:

  • Only active players are allowed in the pilot area during gameplay. 

  • Substitutions can not be made during a Set, but unlimited substitutions can be made from the roster between Sets. 

  • Players may not swap radio controllers during gameplay.

All drones should be placed on the staging table with batteries strapped on, but not connected. The referee will enter the arena and place the drones in the starting zone. The referee will call “Radios On” to remind pilots to ensure that their radios are ready.

  • Two attempts can be made to connect the drone before exchanging for a spare. 

  • Do not arm drones balls until commanded by the referee. 

  • Once both teams are ready, the referee will exit and command pilots to “Arm Your Drones!” 

At the starting signal, pilots lift off and begin play.

A point will be awarded each time a Striker successfully flies through their opponent’s goal in the forward direction. The drone must pass completely through the goal. The Striker cannot pass backwards through the goal in an attempt to score. Other drones that fly through the goal will not be awarded or penalized.

Misconduct - Players, coaches, and spectators must exhibit respectful conduct at all times. Officials may remove participants from the Match or Tournament for infractions or violations of the Code of Conduct.  

Controlled Flight - Drones must be flown under control to the best of a player's ability. Reckless  flight that intentionally causes damage may result in penalties and/or removal from the game. Damaged or disabled drones should be immediately disarmed to prevent further damage.

Interference - Only the referee can physically interact with drones within the Arena. No player, coach, or spectator may interact with a drone through the arena netting.

Early Start - Players will arm but remain on the ground until the start signal begins the Set. 

Offsides - After a successful goal, the striker and all teammates must retreat back across the centerline before attacking again. No point will be awarded until all active teammates have all cleared the attack zone. Disabled drones are not counted. 

Direction of Flight - The striker can not fly through the other team’s goal from the back. Defenders may not hover within the goal, or fly through the goal in the reverse direction. All drones who enter a goal must fly out and around to return to play. 


For a violation of the above rules, a Penalty may be awarded by the Referee. 

  • Penalties may result in Penalty Shots in extra time following each Set.

  • Ten seconds will be allotted for the striker to attack against a single defender.

  • The striker may attempt multiple goals. 

  • Penalty Shot time will not be counted against Set elapsed time. 

  • At the conclusion of the ten second penalty all other drones can resume play.

Players must weigh the risk of damage with how aggressively they fly. A damaged drone must be immediately disarmed and that team will fly shorthanded for the remainder of the Set.

If a striker is disabled:

  • Players will immediately notify the Referee.

  • Referee will stop play and all drones will land.

  • The referee will swap flags to a backup striker.

  • Play will resume with remaining drones from current positions.

Drones who are stuck upside down must utilize “turtle mode” to flip over, or have a teammate bump assist to roll the drone to upright for flight.

If a drone is stuck against the arena, notify the referee who will free it. Do not interact with a drone through the net. The referee may choose to pause the game to assist a stuck drone.