The Rules of Soccer

Futbol; Soccer

Soccer is the world's greatest sport. It is able to bring a nation together more than any other event. Soccer fans are extremely loyal, and will often get in fights to defend their countrymen.

It is ashame that our country, the United States, is not more involved with soccer. We have commercialized sports to a degree that soccer seems like the outcast of all sports, when in fact it is the only pure sport left on this planet.

The main objective of a soccer game is to score more goals than the opposing team. With an army of players, strategy, athleticism, and skill are showcased and we bear witness to many beautiful goals.

I can tell you from experience, that there is not a better feeling when your team wins a big game, or any game for that matter. The pride you can have supporting a country's soccer team is matched by very few things.

So if you want to learn to love the greatest sport of all time, it is a good idea to understand it!

The Field

A standard sized soccer field is 50 to 100 yards wide by 100 to 130 yards long. It consists of four corner areas, a goal are, and a center area.

Goal Area

  • Goal: The net in which a team tries to kick the ball into in order to score a goal.
  • Goal Line: The two lines at both ends of the field. The ball must cross this line in its entirety for it to be considered out of bounds and/or a goal.
  • Six Yard Line: The line in front of the goalie which caps off the goal area. Goal Kicks are taken from this line.
  • 18 Yard Line: This is not marked on the chart above, but it is the second line in front of the goalie. It caps off the area that a goalie is allowed to use his hands. Once the ball is entirely outside of this box, a goalie can no longer pick it up.
  • Penalty Mark: The penalty mark is the spot in which a ball is placed for a penalty kick.

Corner Area

The four corner areas of a soccer field are where a corner kick is taken. The ball must be placed on or within the little arc while the corner kick is being executed.

Center Area

The center area of a soccer field has no real significance other than at the start of the game and at the start of the second half. The ball is placed on the center spot for these two times in the game, and is passed from one player to another to signify that the game is in play.

The Sidelines

The sidelines are the two lines on each side of the field. The ball must cross this line in its entirety for it to be considered out of bounds.

These are the main elements of a standard soccer field. Anything depicted in the chart above that is not mentioned here, is because it has no bearing on the game.

click to enlarge
click to enlarge

Legend

  • CF - Striker
  • SS - Striker
  • LW - Striker
  • RW - Striker
  • AM - Midfielder
  • RM - Midfielder
  • LM - Midfielder
  • CM - Midfielder
  • DM - Midfielder
  • LWB - Defender
  • RWB - Defender
  • CB - Defender
  • RB - Defender
  • LB - Defender
  • SW - Sweeper
  • GK - Goalie

This is simplified for beginners to learn the basics!

Positions

Soccer is played with eleven players on the field for each team. There is no set formation for these players, but there are general areas in which players are assigned: Forward, Midfield, and Defense.

Forward

Also known as strikers, the forwards are the players that start closest to the midfield line at the beginning of play. They are the players that are usually scoring goals. As a matter of fact, that is their main goal on the field. Each team is different, but in general there are usually one to three strikers on the field. They are fast, agile, and have tremendous foot skills.

Midfield

Midfielders control the entire game. They play behind the forwards but in front of the defenders. Because of their location on the field, they help out on both offense and defense. A formation usually consists of one or two center mids, a left wing, and a right wing. They are responsible for crossing balls into the strikers, scoring goals, and getting back on defense to stop the opposing team from scoring. The midfielders are the most integral piece to a soccer team.

Defense

Defenders play behind the midfielders. Their main objectors are to deter the opposing offense from scoring a goal. Although they can be positioned in various ways there are two main positions within the defense. They are known as the stopper and the sweeper.

  • Stopper - The stopper is the most forward man of the defenders. He is there to stop an offensive attack from building. He is commonly the first defender that an opposing striker meets.
  • Sweeper - The sweeper is the most back man of the defenders. He is there to control the defense-men. His duty is to be the safety net and take care of any oncoming attack. He is also there to try to catch the opposing players offsides. (more on that later)

Goalkeeper

The goalkeeper, or goalie, the the protector of the net. He is the only player on the field that is allowed to use his hands. His purpose is to block any and all shots that are taken on net. Goalies do not go out and play the field; they stay in their general area for the duration of the game. They are the general of a soccer team and has full control over his defenders.


Soccer Terms

A Goal: A goal is when the ball is kicked into the net. The ball must cross the goal line in its entirety to be considered a goal.

Goal Kick: A goal kick as a free kick taken by the goalie or a defender after the ball has gone out of bounds over the goal line when it is last touched by the attacking team. The kick is taken from the 6 yard line.

Corner Kick: A corner kick is a free kick taken by an attacking team after the ball has gone out of bounds over the goal line when it is last touched by the defending team. A corner kick is taken from one of the four corners of the field, depending on where the ball went out of bounds.

Penalty Kick: A penalty kick is a free kick taken by an attacking team after a foul has been committed inside the 18 yard line box. The ball is placed on the penalty spot and the kicker has one chance to shoot at the net with only the goalie to defend.

Direct Kick: A direct kick is a free kick taken by either team as a result of a foul made by the opposing team. This free kick can be shot on net without touching another play first.

Indirect Kick: An indirect kick is a free kick taken by either team as a result of a foul made by the opposing team. This free kick must touch at least two players before being shot on net. (The second player can be the shooter.)

Throw In: A throw in is done when the ball crosses either sideline in its entirety. It is take by the team that did not touch it last before the ball crosses the line. This is the only part of the game in which a player other than the goalie can use their hands.

Foul: A foul comes at the discretion of the referee. If a player bumps into another player too hard, holds, pulls or trips another player, a foul may be called and the team being fouled will be rewarded a free kick from that spot on the field.

Yellow Card: A yellow card is a warning from the referee after a hard foul. It is used to deter tackles that will cause injury. A player receiving two yellow cards in one game results in an automatic red card.

Red Card: A red card means an ejection from the game. These are given by the referees in times where a severe foul has been made. A player receiving a red card is ejected from the current game and must also sit for his team's entire next game.

Referees

There are three referees in the game of soccer. There is one field referee and two sideline referees.

Field Referee

The field referee's goal is to control the flow of the game. They are in charge of making all calls such as fouls, offsides, and hand balls. They are able to eject players for rough play, or give warnings. They are the official timekeepers of a soccer game.

Sideline Referee

Each of the two sideline refs are in charge of one half of the field. They are on opposite sides of the field, and patrol opposite ends. They are there to assist the field referee in making the proper calls. They carry flags in which they use to signal the field referee of a foul, offsides, or handball. Usually, the field referee will make the call based on the sideline referees, but he does have the option to ignore their flag.

Game Play

A soccer game is played in two 45 minute halves. The clock is never stopped, and the only additional time added to the game is a brief 1-5 minute add-on for what is known as injury time.

Both teams pass, dribble, and shoot the ball in order to get a goal. The team with the most goals at the end of the game wins. A goal can be scored with any part of the body except the hands. Even a defending team can knock the ball into their own goal, and it counts! This is known, simply, as an own goal.

Offsides

Defending teams will often try to catch an attacker offsides. This occurs when the attacker has only one player between him and the goal. An attacking player must always have two players, including the goalie, between him and the goal, otherwise the flag will be raised and he will be whistled for offsides, resulting in a free kick for the defending team. An attacker may be passed a ball in which he runs past the defenders to retrieve it. He is now in the offsides position, however as long as the ball was kicked before he moved offsides, he is deemed onsides and play continues.

Substitutes

During an official international soccer match, a team is allowed to make three substitutions throughout the game. Once three have been made, the players on the field are there for good. (Unless they are injured or ejected. Even then, a team must play shorthanded if all of their subs have been made.)

In youth leagues, school leagues, and other professional leagues, the amount of substitutes allowed varies. Some are unlimited, while others must be agreed on before the soccer match.


Soccer In a Nutshell

This is soccer in a nutshell. I have outlined the basic rules, positions, and other aspects of the game. There are, of course, many different strategies and forms of play, but this is a good place to get you started! I hope this has helped you better understand the rules of soccer. Please feel free to ask me any questions!

And before you go...

Check out this video of soccer highlights. How could anyone not enjoy this!?

Please excuse the use of Creed for the musical selection.

More by this Author


Comments 28 comments

Candie V profile image

Candie V 7 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

Great hub!! Soccer is huge over here. I play on a co-ed team, indoor soccer.. defense. It's faster and more aggressive than outdoor, you can play off the walls, great fun! Thank you!


C.Ferreira profile image

C.Ferreira 7 years ago from Rutland, VT Author

I do love a good indoor game, but there is something about the giant field and the outdoors that just calls my name!


Candie V profile image

Candie V 7 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

I shall pack my outdoor soccer shoes and be over to play.. maybe hubland should create a team!


C.Ferreira profile image

C.Ferreira 7 years ago from Rutland, VT Author

That sounds like a great idea. Maybe it can be sponsored by the Duck Inn!?


Candie V profile image

Candie V 7 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

I shall write a check!


Candie V profile image

Candie V 7 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

and have jerseys with an angry duck face on them..


Iphigenia 7 years ago

You joined my fan club because I wrote a hub about beer - I'm joining your because you wrote a hub about (what you call) soccer but in England it's football - I'm a life-long fan of the beautiful game and started going to Old Trafford in 1964 or 65 - when Matt Busby was still in charge, Bobby Charlton was nobbut a


Iphigenia 7 years ago

I cocked this comment up :)


Iphigenia 7 years ago

You joined my fan club because I wrote a hub about beer - I'm joining your because you wrote a hub about (what you call) soccer but in England it's football - I'm a life-long fan of the beautiful game and started going to Old Trafford in 1964 or 65 - when Matt Busby was still in charge, Bobby Charlton was nobbut a lad and Georgie Best was about to blow our minds out with his dribbling skils and scoring goals from corner kicks. I could go on and on and on ..... but I won't. That offside rule is hard to describe isn't it ... you need about 5 glasses of beer and a table to explain it properly.


Iphigenia 7 years ago

Oh, and Man United just won the Premiership AGAIN - 11 times in the 17 years since the Barclays Premiership has been in existance.


C.Ferreira profile image

C.Ferreira 7 years ago from Rutland, VT Author

I would call it futbol, but no one else here would! Man U!! Led by my man Cristiano Ronaldo!

And yes, offsides is almost an impossible rule to describe verbally. Beer would definitely help! With our Hubs combined we can take on the challenge!


mickg profile image

mickg 7 years ago

nice hub but you are using us terms rather than normal football terms as there is only one ref the other 2 being linesman and also now adays you also have a 4th official responsible for subs etc. Red cards now normally ban you from the next 3 games and they have made the offside rule so confusing now even professionals cant decide what exactly the rules are but for general rules this is a very good hub


C.Ferreira profile image

C.Ferreira 7 years ago from Rutland, VT Author

Thanks mick for stopping by and leaving a comment. I did not know that about red cards...seems a bit strange. Is that for international games?


mickg profile image

mickg 7 years ago

some tournaments have its own rules for red cards and most leagues also have different rules as well. I think things like the world cup, european cup and champions league you are correct that after a red card you are banned for 1 match. In the UK if you get a red card you are banned for the next 3 games, sometimes this can be increased if the authorities want too. At the moment if you get 5 yellow cards you are banned for 1 match. The rules do change for things like the league cup and FA Cup. This makes things very confusing, teams can also appeal red cards and if they are successful your ban is withdrawn. I think the thing with yellow cards gets reset or put on hold after a certain amount of games but I dont know the details of this. HOPE this Helps although I have probabley confused everyone even more now, but most countries have their own rules about red and yellow cards.


C.Ferreira profile image

C.Ferreira 7 years ago from Rutland, VT Author

Fair enough...thanks for clearing that up. I was pretty sure that the international red card was how I described it, and that is what I was basing the Hub on.

I do appreciate the extra info though. Good to know!


deecarney90 profile image

deecarney90 7 years ago from Miami, FL

I absolutely love this hub football(soccer) is my life , you can check out this as well

http://hubpages.com/hub/Soccer-News-Now


Temujinkhan profile image

Temujinkhan 7 years ago from Sunderland

Really good hub mate :)


instantsports 7 years ago

We are all really proud about the great soccer revolutionist living this world Soccer players are really celebrity people, are while on the game so giving the great passing ball to the right person with well of controls and finishing but ended getting result as win.

Action always gives a tremendous result, it gives more active in your life simultaneously as long as you’ll felt on good attitude.

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ryankett 7 years ago

Hi, good to see another football (soccer) voice on hubpages, I have done a few footy hubs... feel free to check them out :-)


Thane77 profile image

Thane77 7 years ago

The reason that football still remains a small game in the states is plain and simple......The salary cap!!! Scrap it, and the world will be at your feet.......


ryankett 7 years ago

I have to disagree with Thane77. You do need to raise the general salary levels to encourage participation, probably by distributing salaries more fairly, but British football is in a complete state at the moment due to high player salaries and we are watching clubs tintering on the brink of oblivion. A salary cap is essential, its just that you need to pay your players more than $30,000 a year to stop them working in an office instead!


A M Werner profile image

A M Werner 7 years ago from West Allis

Excellent hub. There are so many nuances to the game, it would be almost impossible to explain them to someone who has never played.

As far as popularity in America, we have to realize that Americans like everything bigger than it should be - and they often like it just for show.

Soccer has always been the common man's game. While the big clubs make all the headlines - it is the division 4,3, and even 2 teams that keep the game thriving. America needs these lower levels to grow as cheaply and economically as possible before the big time teams can really arrive.

American Football didn't just happen overnight. The first fifty years of the professional side of the sport were done in relative obscurity - it was the college game that thrived.

Once Soccer has a fan base of adult players playing at all levels of semi-pro ball, like the other nations of the world do; these player will attend.

Right now the interest in America is limited to diehard fans and parents bringing their children.


samazh1999 6 years ago

thanks much!


SpiffyD profile image

SpiffyD 5 years ago from The Caribbean

Quote: " An attacking player must always have two players, including the goalie, between him and the goal, otherwise the flag will be raised and he will be whistled for offsides, resulting in a free kick for the defending team. "

There are two small problems with that statement.

1.It appears as though the goalkeeper MUST be one of the opponents closer to the goal line. In some situations (albeit rarely), the goalkeeper is not even one of the two opponents closer to the goal line. Maybe it just needs to be reworded.

2. It says two players, when it should be two opponents. FIFA law is very clear on that, since "players" refers to teammates and opponents.


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nate13 4 years ago

if u get a red card in a soccer tournament for kids do u mis all the games


Sabrina 4 years ago

can a defence cross the middle line and score a goal if he has the chance?


Learning in Life profile image

Learning in Life 3 years ago from SW Florida

Wow! This is or comprehensive hub! Great job. Voted up and useful.

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