People all over the globe love soccer for its passion, intensity, and accessibility. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world mostly due to how easy it is to play. All you need is a ball, and you are good to go. Soccer is simple for beginners to learn, but players like Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have been playing for many years. If you need inspiration, there are professional leagues and tournaments all over the world for you to watch, in which the best of the best compete at the highest level. The object of soccer is to score more goals than the opponent, but it goes way deeper than that. Here are the top 10 rules to get you started with the great game of soccer.
Soccer is played in two 45 minute halves, separated by halftime. Soccer uses a running clock, meaning that the time does not stop when the play does. However, at the end of each half, there is stoppage time. This is time that the referee adds up during each half accounting for time missed for injuries and other stoppages. For example, in the scoreboard below a stoppage time of +2 has been added for the first half. This means that 2 extra minutes will be played. In most league play, if the score is tied at the end of the game a draw will be the result of the game. In comparison, tournaments will have overtime in which two 15 minute periods will be played, and whoever is winning at the end of the second overtime period wins the game. If the game is still tied, the game will go to a penalty shootout. Each team will take turns shooting from the penalty spot, and whoever has more goals at the end of 5 turns wins the game. If the game is still tied, the process is repeated except one round at a time.
Eleven players are on the field at a time in any given soccer game. Each one of these players has a position which gives them special responsibilities. This is also called a formation, and different teams use different formations. All formations have forwards/strikers, midfielders, defenders, and a goalkeeper. If you are a striker, you are probably very speedy, and can finish well. Midfielders are very well rounded players who excel at passing and setting up the play. Defenders are good at one vs one defense, and are good at stopping an opponent's attack. Goalkeepers are special in that they can touch the ball with their hands as long as they are inside the 18 yard box. They are charged with the responsibility of protecting the goal, and must do all they can to keep the ball out of the goal.
In soccer, you are not allowed to wait behind the defense for the ball to come to you, also known as 'cherry picking'. Offsides states that when you are passed the ball, you must be in front of the last defender back, excluding the goalkeeper. This means that you can't sit and wait for the ball behind the defense. In the example below, player A is beyond the last defender (player D) and would be considered offsides if the ball was passed to him or her. The play would be stopped and the defending team would get a free kick where the offsides occured. Offsides creates strategies for both the offense and defense. If the whole defense pushes up at the same time, they can draw an opponent offsides and nullify the play.
There are many fouls that can occur in a soccer game. Some of these include: kicking an opponent, tripping, tackling, pushing, slide tackling, and unsportsmanlike behavior up to the discretion of the referee. If you want to avoid committing fouls, try to play without being too aggressive or dangerous. Fouls may result in a direct or indirect free kick, depending on how severe the penalty was. Direct free kicks can go straight into the goal, and indirect has to touch a teammate before going into the goal. If a foul occurs inside the 18 yard box, then a penalty kick is awarded, meaning the player has a direct free kick from the penalty spot with only the goalkeeper. Fouls can be a game changer in a soccer game, so you should try and avoid them.
If a foul is severe enough in soccer, a card may be issued to the player who committed the foul. This card will either be yellow or red. A yellow card is for a moderately severe play in which a player is too aggressive or a play is deemed dangerous by a referee. A red card is for an egregious act in which a player attempts to injure another player or something of that nature. If a player receives a red card, he or she is immediately sent off the field and the team will play with 10 players for the rest of the game. If a player gets 2 yellow cards in one game, then it is equivalent to a red card and the player will be sent off the field.
A goal kick occurs when the ball goes out of bounds on either goal line, and the defense has possession of the ball. This means that the last player to touch the ball was on offense. During a goal kick, the ball is placed on the 6 yard box, and a player kicks the ball.
A corner kick occurs when the ball goes out of bounds on either goal line, and the offense has possession of the ball. In this instance, an offensive player kicks the ball from the corner and tries to pass to a teammate. On corner kicks, players all pack into the box and wait for the ball. Scoring is relatively rare in soccer, so corner kicks are usually a golden opportunity for a goal. Many goals are scored on crosses from the corner and headers from players in the box.
A throw in occurs when the ball goes out of bounds on either sideline of the field. A player must throw the ball from over their head, as the picture shows. Your feet cannot cross the boundary line and both of the players feet must be touching the ground when they do a throw in. A common practice when throwing the ball is to get a running start and drag your feet to get more power.
Soccer is very cheap and accessible to play. The only equipment you need to casually play soccer is a ball, however, that changes when you play competitive soccer. Almost all leagues require cleats and shinguards. This is for the player's protection. If you do not have the correct equipment, you will not be allowed to play.
A soccer field is a large rectangle of grass or turf, with goals on either end. The ball must stay in bounds or there will be a throw in, goal kick, or corner kick. There is a half line, an 18 yard box, and a 6 yard box. There is also a dot called the penalty spot where penalties are taken from.