Soccer is a popular sport played all over the world and naturally, it is essential to know and understand the game’s basics in order to not just play it well, but also to enjoy it on TV or simply have a great conversation about it during a party. In this guide on easy ways to understand soccer basics, we will cover the game’s rules and terminologies used in it in 6 simple steps.
1. Understand the aim of soccer
Explained simply, the main aim of soccer, which is played between two teams, is for either team to try and put the ball into the other team’s goal. The only rule here is, while doing so; players mustn’t use their arms or hands but may use any other body part including their torso, head, legs or feet. Only the goalkeeper is allowed to touch the football with his/her hands.
2. Know the 17 laws of soccer
Whether you are a player, a referee or simply someone watching soccer on the TV, understanding foot basics means understanding its 17 laws as follows:
- Know the basic terms of the soccer field. For sake of simplicity, we have included a labeled diagram above.
- Know which size of ball is allowed in the game. Different leagues use different sizes like No. 3, or No.4 or No.5.
- There may not be more than 11 players per team on the field during the duration of the game. The goalie or goalkeeper must wear different colored jersey than his teammates so he is readily spotted.
- All players must wear the same colored jersey with numbers. Sports equipment like football or soccer cleats makes the play easier and safe.
- There has to be a referee who ensures that above laws and rules are practiced.
- Some other people also assist the referee. They are called linesmen and they help the referee by letting him know about corner kick, goal kick etc. Ultimately though, it is the referee who takes the ultimate decision pertaining to the game.
- Each game is divided into 2 halves of 45 minutes each. The game can run longer than 90 minutes in most cases due to penalty kicks etc.
- Kick-off – This is the term that indicates starting the game by kicking the ball. A kick off is also needed when a goal occurs and the games has to be re-started following the goal. Likewise, a “drop ball” is done by the referee when the game is stopped for some reason-like an injury or when a player fails to follow the rules and laws. In such a case, the game is restarted by the referee by dropping the ball between players of the two teams.
- Ball in, ball out of play – These two terms are essential when understanding soccer basics. Ball is out of the play when the football is out of the outside edge of the touchline or the goalline on the ground or in the air. Ball in play means any part of the ball may be touching the line or cross bar, cornerflag or even if it bounces off the referee or linesmen.
- Scoring – The goal is ‘scored’ only when the ball is completely inside the net or the goalpost. Any player of the two teams, including the goalkeepers can score the goal. A player might even score for the opposite team should he accidently put the ball in his own goal when taking a free kick, penalty kick or throw in etc.
- Offside – A player is said to be offside when he is in the other team’s half of the field, ahead of the ball and has less than 2 opponents even with or ahead of him.
- Fouls – There are several fouls in soccer, like major, minor or penal and non-penal. Major fouls include hurting an opponent intentionally through pushing, kicking etc. Minor fouls include goalkeeper infringement, intentionally wasting time, illegally obstructing opponents or playing the ball with hands.
- Free-kick – To understand soccer basics, one must know about free kicks, which are given when any of the aforementioned fouls occur. Free kicks are further divided into direct and indirect free kicks. On a direct free kick, the ball may be kicked directly into the goal and in indirect free kick, the ball has to be touched by another player (from either team) after it is kicked in play and before entering the goal. The referee uses certain hand signals to indicate free kick. The player given the free kick may not touch the ball again unless it is first touched by another player.
- Penalty kick – A player is given penalty kick when the opponent team’s player commits a foul. During penalty kick, all players except the goal keeper must stay out of the penalty area. The defending goal keeper is to stand at the front of the goal post but he cannot move until the kick taker has kicked the ball.
- Throw in – As explained above, a throw in helps restart the game. The player taking the throw in must hold the ball in his hands over his head at the backside. The balls must be thrown with a lot of strength and the player taking the throw in may not touch the ball again until another player has done so before.
- Goal kick – The goal area is the area located in front of the goal posts. If attacking team last touches the ball before it crosses the goal line, the defending team is awarded a goal kick. The goal kick may be taken by any player of the defending team. The opposing team has to remain outside the penalty area until the ball is completely out of the goal area.
- Corner kick – If the ball goes over the goal line and has been last touched by a team, the opposing team gets a corner kick. It may be taken by any player of the opposing/attacking team. The opponents have to stand at least 10 yards back from the ball on the corner kick. The corner kick is taken from the corner arc from that side of the field when the ball went out of play.
3. Play the game
One of the easy ways to learn any sport, including soccer, is to play the game as much as you can. Doing this will help you understand all the rules and terminologies practically and quickly. If needed, get coached by an expert at a local sports facility to improve yourself. If you do not wish to play the game yourself but still want to learn it’s rules, you can assist the coach in your neighboring/local schools or sports center as this is an excellent way to understand soccer basics.
4. Watch soccer on TV or live
If you have soccer matches in your city, you must go to a live match or watch one on TV to learn and understand the game.
5. Read up on soccer basics
Reading up on the sport can help you find out more about the game – and the more you know about it, the more fun it is to watch.
6. Talk about the game
If you have expert players in your family or friend circle, unashamedly ask them things you do not understand. You can also visit online forums where your questions will be answered by experts and amateurs alike without judging you.
These 6 easy ways can help you get started with soccer basics so you can better yourself, talk about it expertly or simply enjoy it.