Soccer 101

Soccer Terminology: A-B | C | D | E-G | H | I-K | L-O | P-R | S | T | U-W | X-Z

THE BASICS

Soccer is a team sport in which two teams (also referred to as sides) consisting of eleven players each compete to score goals, while protecting their own net from the opposing team. Matches are played on a rectangular grass or artificial turf field, with two goals, one on each end of the field. The goals are 8 feet high and 24 feet wide with a metal frame and a net.

Games consist of two 45-minute halves played without stopping the clock, with a 15-minute break between, known as half time. At the end of 45 minutes, the referree adds on "stoppage time" to make up for any delays during play.

During the regular season matches can end in ties, but if there must be a winner (during a tournament or playoff game), the standard procedure is to have two 15-minute overtime halves, followed by a penalty shootout in which five players from each team take turns shooting on goal. Whichever team scores the most goals wins, but if the game is still tied five more players from each team are chosen to shoot. If the tie is not broken after the second penalty shootout, five more players are chosen and the shootout becomes sudden death, meaning that the first team to score a goal wins and ends the match.

 

POSITIONS

There are four main positions: Goalkeeper, Defender, Midfielder, and Forward.

Goalkeeper: There is only one goalkeeper on each team and they are the only players allowed to use their hands and arms, although they are only allowed to do so within the penalty box. Also, if a teammate intentionally passes them the ball they are not allowed to use their hands.

Defender: Also known as full backs, defenders are the last line of defense, besides the goalkeeper, hence the name defenders. Their main responsibility is to prevent the opposing team from scoring.

Midfielder: Also known as halfbacks, midfielders are positioned between defenders and forwards. This allows them to move up and down the field as they contribute to both the defensive and offensive efforts.

Forward: Although forwards often aid the rest of the team with defense their main responsibility is to score goals.

There are various ways to arrange players and formations are extremely flexible. There is no set minimum or maximum of defenders, midfielders or forwards, as long as there are only ten field players and one goalkeeper. Common formations include 4-3-3 (defenders-midfielders-forwards) and 4-4-2.

 

UNIFORM

A player’s uniform consists of a jersey, shorts, socks, cleats and shin guards, collectively reffered to as a "kit." The goalkeeper is required to wear a uniform that is easy to differentiate from those on either team, so they often wear colors not included in the team's regular scheme. All players are forbidden from wearing anything that may cause harm to themselves or other players, including but not limited to rings, necklaces and watches.

 

SET PIECES

When the game is stopped for any reason, there are a number of ways in which the ball is brought back into play. Below is a list of several ways that can happen.

Throw-ins: When a team causes the ball to go out of play on the sidelines, their opponents are awarded a throw-in. This means that one player will throw the ball in towards one of his or her own teammates, resuming the game.

Corner KickGoal kick: A goal kick is given to a team when the opposing team does not score, but causes the ball to cross the defending team's goal line on either side of the net. Goal kicks can be taken by any player from anywhere in the six-yard box.

Corner kick: A corner kick is given to the attacking team when the ball crosses the goal line, having been last touched by a player on the defending team. The ball is placed in the corner, where the sideline and goal line meet, and all players from the defending team must be at least 10-yards away from the ball.

Free Kick: Free kicks are given to a team when their opponents have committed a foul. There are two types of free kicks, indirect and direct. Indirect free kicks are for less severe offenses and must be touched by another player before entering the goal. Direct free kicks are given for serious fouls and are allowed to enter the goal without being touched by any other player.

 

CARDS

Yellow CardWhen a referee feels that a player has committed a dangerous or unfair foul they will give that player an official warning in the form of a yellow card. When a player receives a yellow card they are “booked” meaning that the referee writes down their number and formally acknowledges their misconduct. If the player continues to play with excessive aggression the referee will give the player a second yellow and a red card, which ejects them from the game and disqualifies them from competing in their next game. Their team will be forced to play the rest of the game without their ejected player and is not allowed to substitute another player in.

 

THE OFFSIDE RULE

A player is considered offside if they are closer to the goal line than both the ball and the second to last defending player. A player cannot be offside on their own half of the field or if they receive the ball from a throw-in. If a player is offside when the ball is played by one of their teammates, and the referee believes that their position gives their team an advantage, then the defending team is given a free kick from where the offence took place.

 

RESOURCES

There are more rules to the game of soccer but the above list is a primer upon which to start your soccer education.

Confused about some of the terms? Click here for a list of soccer terms and what they mean.

If you would like to learn more about the game of soccer, more information can be found at: