...How to Play Soccer

How To Play Soccer                                    Back to Soccer Tricks

To learn how to play soccer or to simply understand the game of soccer, the following is a basic explanation of
how to play the game of soccer.  A true quick read to understand the game and how it is played.
how to play soccer
For a youngster to learn how to play soccer, we recommend beginning with foot skills (soccer skills)
practice.  The younger the age the better, as these are critical to becoming a successful player.  If you don’t
have them by the early teenage years, one’s ability to play soccer will be drastically behind others of the
same age.  Also, it would be best to find a good club soccer program in your area that teaches all ages of
kids how to play soccer.  Learning team play and getting used to the speed of the game will also be very
important.  Learning how to play soccer is learning that soccer is a
dribbling and passing game.

To learn how to play soccer, or simply to understand how the game of soccer is played, let us begin with the
objective of the soccer game.  Each soccer team consists of eleven players who work together to score
points which are called goals.  The team with the most goals wins.  A goal is counted when the ball is kicked
into the opponent’s without the use of the hands or arms; the rest of the body, such as the head, chest, feet
and legs are allowed to touch the ball.  Typically, a soccer game lasts 90 minutes with two 45 minute
halves.  Younger leagues are shorter in duration, usually.

Soccer is played with a leather ball that is 14-16 ounces in weight, although lighter, smaller soccer balls are
sometimes used for younger children.  Shin guards, a padded piece of hard plastic, are also worn on the
front of the lower legs to protect against injury from being kicked.  Shoes worn for outdoor soccer are called
“cleats.”  Indoor soccer requires a pair of indoor soccer shoes.  Clothing should be worn without pockets
(soccer uniform preferred), so fingers cannot get caught in them during game play.  Equipment needed is
minimal at best, especially when one is beginning to learn how to play soccer.

The soccer field can range in size dependent upon the league, age of players, indoor, outdoor, etc.  Most
regulation soccer fields will range from 100-130 yards in length, with the soccer goals at each end.  Flags
are found on each corner of the soccer field to mark the corners.  The field of play will have eleven
soccer
positions for players from both teams, with a “keeper” or “goalie” defending his or her own goal, by keeping
the soccer ball from going into it.  This is called "
goalkeeping."  The goalie is the only player on the field of
play who may touch the ball with any part of the body including the hands and arms while in the goalie box.  
Outside the goalie box, the keeper must not use hands or arms.  Also, if the ball is kicked to him as a pass
from one of his or her own players, the ball may not be touched with the hands or arms, either.  Thus, the
goalie must kick or pass the ball with the feet to get it away from the box.  By the way, any player may use
the head to direct the soccer ball.  This is called a "
header."  

In front of the goalie are the defenders.  Defenders usually do not go beyond midfield, as they stay back on
defense to protect against goals being scored against their team.  Some teams play with a defender closer
to the goalkeeper and central; this is the “sweeper”.  The sweeper is the last line of defense before the
goalie.  In front of the defensive players are “midfielders.”  Midfielders run the full length of the field, as they
play defense, as well as offense.  Typically, a midfielder will “mark” an opponent.  This means they stick
near a certain player on the opposing team, not allowing that player to get free.  If soccer players mark their
opponents, then they can keep track of them.  To lose track of an opponent means trouble.  The midfielders
can also score goals and assist in making goals.  In front of the midfielders are the “forwards” or “strikers.”  
Forwards seek to stay primarily offensive, though they may jump back a bit for some defensive help, but
seek to crash the ball into the net.  Midfielders work with them by setting up shots or taking shots
themselves if open.  The outside midfielders typically run either left-wing or right-wing and look to “cross”
the ball from the outside corner to the middle of the field and in front of the opponent’s goal.  This allows the
center midfielders and forwards to attempt to get to the ball and score a goal.  Midfielders and especially
forwards typically have the best foot skills and speed on the team.  There are many soccer offensive and
defensive sets with the most common being the 4-4-2 (four defenders, four midfielders and two forwards)
and the 3-5-2 (three defenders, five midfielders and two forwards).  Typically, look for a team that is ahead
to put more players back on defense, but if needing to score you will see more offensive players able to
crash towards the net.

There are referees on the soccer field, with one being the head referee in the center of the field.  There
should also be two lineman referees with flags to determine where and if the ball crosses over the line which
is out, or to assist in determining foul calls, etc.  By the way, a ball on the line is still in play.  When a ball
goes across the line, the flag will go up, pointing the direction of what team has the ball.  Fouls are called for
un-sportsmanlike conduct, tripping, touching the ball with the arm or hand, pushing with the arms, jumping
up and going over another player’s back, slide-tackling another player, etc.  When a foul is committed, the
referee may award the other team with possession which is a free kick.  With all free kicks, no opposing
player is allowed to be within ten yards of the ball.  The player awarded the ball may then kick the ball to try
and score, kick it, or pass it to a teammate.  There is an indirect kick and a direct kick.  For an indirect kick,
the referee will hold one arm straight up in the air, until the second soccer player touches the ball. No arm
up, then it’s a direct kick. With a direct kick, the soccer player is allowed to kick the soccer ball directly into
the goal.  An indirect kick warrants that the soccer ball must be touched by another player after the first
kick, before it can go into the goal. A direct kick is typically awarded for a contact foul and hand ball
(touching the ball with the hand or arm). Most other penalties are indirect kicks.  When the ball is 25 yards
or closer, the opposing team may choose to line up in a wall formation to attempt to block a direct shot at
their goal.  If the foul occurred in the goalie box and was blatant, the team may be awarded a penalty kick
from just 13 yards out, with only the goalie allowed to be in front of the net.  This type of penalty usually
turns into a goal being scored.  Sometimes, the referee sees a foul, but does not call it, as it will possibly
harm the other team to do so.  If the referee sees this situation, he may choose to yell out “advantage,”
letting the players know he saw the foul, but is allowing it to play on.  Severe penalties are noted by the
yellow and red cards.  These are instituted for blatant fouls, fighting, dangerous play, language and other
un-sportsmanlike conduct.  A red card means the player is removed for the rest of the game (and the team ,
must play minus a player for each red card issued), while a yellow card is a warning and the player is
removed for two minutes.  Two yellow cards equal a red card, however.

Other
soccer rules to know about when learning how to play soccer are the offside rule, corner kick, goal
kick and the
throw-in.  Offsides is called when a player gets behind the defense, specifically the second-to-
last defender.  With the goalie usually being the last defender, the teammate that is closest to the goalie is
the second-to-last defender.  If an offensive player runs past the second-to-last defender without the ball in
transit (as a pass from another player) or dribbling the ball past, it is called offsides.  If this happens, the
other team will be awarded the ball (a free kick).  Corner kicks are awarded when the ball goes out of the
back of the end zone, knocked out by the defensive team.  The ball is awarded to the offensive team at the
corresponding corner (by the flag), and a free kick ensues.  Typically, the ball is either attempted to be
curved into the goal from the corner or to try and simply get it in front of the net so teammates can try and
score.  Goal kicks are awarded to the defensive team when the offensive team kicks the ball out of the back
of the end zone.  The ball is then placed within the corresponding side of the goal box and the free kick
ensues.  Typically, the ball is booted up-field to one’s own teammates on offense.  Restarting play occurs
whenever the ball goes out of bounds, the most common method of restarting being the throw-in.  When the
soccer ball goes out of bounds, the team who touched it last loses possession.  The team awarded the ball
then must throw the ball into play.  This is done with two arms above and behind the head, while maintaining
both feet on the ground while throwing it into play.  Both hands must remain on the ball until it is released,
and neither foot may leave the ground.

Other interesting links: History of Soccer   Soccer Tricks   World Cup Soccer History   Soccer Rules
how to play soccer
Above: The soccer field.  See a
bigger
soccer field diagram.
how to play soccer
how to play soccer
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