Soccer teams move a ball along a field by dribbling, passing, heading, and kicking. The object is to score goals. A goal counts as one point and is scored when the soccer ball completely crosses the opposing goal line between the posts and under the crossbar. The team scoring the greater number of goals in the allotted time wins the game.
A soccer ball - usually 28 inches in circumference (size 5), soccer cleats , shin guards, a soccer jersey, shorts, socks, and gloves (for the goalkeeper).
How Long Is A Game?
A soccer game is divided into two halves - Forty-five minutes each, with a ten-minute break in between. The game begins with a “kickoff” at the center circle with each team positioned on its own side of the field. Teams switch sides at halftime. If a game ends in a tie, the contest is declared a draw. In some leagues, a draw may be decided by an extra ten-minute playing period or by a series of alternating “penalty kicks.”
Get A Kick Out Of This!
Center Kickoff - Starts play at the beginning of both halves and after every goal. It is a kick taken from the center circle in which a player from the kicking team strikes the ball forward to his or her own teammate.
Corner Kick - Takes place when the defensive team has kicked the ball “out-of-bounds” over its own end line. The corner kick is taken by a player on the attacking team from the “corner arc” nearest to where the ball left the field.
Goal Kick - A kick taken by a defensive player (often the goalie) after the offensive team has kicked the ball out-of-bounds over the end line. The goal kick is taken from within the goal area and must clear the penalty area before another defensive player is allowed to touch it.
Bicycle Kick - A player extends both legs up in the air over his or her head and, using a bicycling-type motion, kicks the ball backward while falling to the ground.
Offside And Other No-No's!
Rules regulate player conduct and how the ball may be played. When a player commits a foul, a penalty is called. Depending on the severity, degree of intent, and location of the foul, the referee will award either a “free kick” or a penalty kick to the opposing team. A player commits a foul if he or she kicks, hits, pushes, holds, charges, or trips an opponent, or touches the ball with his or her hands - whether intentional or not.
Offside - Called against the offense when one of its players moves without the ball behind the last line of defense, with only the goalie separating the player from the goal. When a teammate passes the ball forward to this player or shoots on goal, the violation occurs and results in an “indirect” free kick for the defense.
Hand Ball - No player, other than the goalie, may intentionally touch a ball in play with his or her hands or arms. This violation awards the opposing team a “direct” free kick.
Holding and Tripping - If a player deliberately holds or uses any part of his or her body to trip an opposing player, a direct kick is awarded to the fouled player.
High Kick - A violation on a player who swings his or her foot close to and above the waist of an opposing player. This foul generally results in a direct kick.
Free Kick (Indirect or Direct) - Awarded as the result of a foul. Depending on the degree and severity of the foul, and at the discretion of the referee, a direct or indirect kick is taken by the non-offending team. Generally, a free kick is taken from the spot where the foul occurred, and no opposing player may be within ten yards of the ball before it is kicked.
Indirect Kick - A free kick awarded for less serious rule infractions such as an offside. A goal may not be scored off an indirect kick until the ball touches at least one other player from either team.
Direct Kick - Awarded on more serious or deliberate infractions such as tripping and holding. It is a free kick aimed directly at the goal. The player taking the kick may score a goal without the ball first touching any other player.
Penalty Kick - A kick awarded to the attacking team when a defending player commits a major foul or a hand ball within his or her own 18-yard penalty area. The resulting shot is taken from the penalty mark; only the kicker and goalie may be in the penalty area during this kick. The goalie may not move off the goal line until the ball has been touched by the kicker.
Yellow Card - A caution warning issued by the referee to any player who commits a severe foul or plays in an unsportsmanlike manner.
Red Card - If a player has already received a yellow card or commits an overly aggressive foul, the referee will issue a red card, removing that player for the duration of the game. The player receiving a red card may not be replaced, and his or her team must play with one less player for the remainder of the game.
Who plays where?
Two teams of eleven players are on the field at one time. Generally, teams line up with three forwards, three midfielders, four defensemen, and one goalkeeper. Any player on the field may score a goal and every player should help defend when necessary. Substitutions may take place only when play is stopped, and only on a “goal kick” or “throw in.”
Forwards (one center striker and two wings) - The team’s primary offense and goal scorers. Their role is to advance the ball from midfield toward the opposing goal by dribbling, passing, and shooting.
Midfielders (or Halfbacks) - Play between the forwards and the defenders. Halfbacks play both offense and defense. Their primary objective is to receive the ball when it is “cleared” by teammates from the defensive zone, and pass it up to the forwards for scoring opportunities.
Defense (Fullbacks and Sweeper) - Line up between the midfielders and their team’s own goal. They form a row of three fullbacks with one deep sweeper playing behind them and are the last line of defense before the goalkeeper. Their primary responsibilities are to prevent opposing players from scoring goals and to clear the ball up to the midfielders.
Goalkeeper - Stands in front of the goal to block shots by opposing players. The goalie is the only player allowed to play the ball with his or her hands and can do so only when inside the 18-yard “penalty area” surrounding the goal.
For more comprehensive information check out the Laws of Soccer.