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Rules of Soccer
The field — Soccer can be adapted to almost any area available. At minimum you will need a rectangular playing area with a center line and a goal on each end. The size and proportions can be adjusted for the area available and the number of players participating.
Refer to the diagram for the dimensions of the official field of play.
The ball — Officially the ball should be 27 to 28 inches in circumference and 14 to 16 ounces in weight, but any round ball can be used.
Number of players — 11 per side, but may be fewer. One person on each side must be the goalkeeper.
Play equipment — Consists of shirt, shorts, socks, and shoes. Goalkeeper must wear colors distinguishing him or her from the other players. Shin guards are also very popular and highly recommended.
Referees — One referee is in control of each game. The referee’s decisions are final.
Linesmen — Two linesmen assist the referee. They indicate offside, ball out of play, and which team is entitled to the corner kick or throw-in.
Duration of the game — A regulation game consists of two equal periods of 45 minutes. The league determines the length of play.
The start of play—A flip of a coin determines which team will kick off. Each team must stay on its own half of the field, and the defending players must be at least 10 yards from the ball until it is kicked. After a goal, the team scored on will kick off. At halftime, the teams change ends of the field, and the team that did not kick off at the beginning of the game kicks off to open the second half. A goal cannot be scored directly from a kickoff.
Ball in and out of play — The ball is out of play when it has entirely crossed the goal line or sideline, whether on the ground or in the air, or when the game has been stopped by the referee.
Method of scoring—A goal is scored when the entire ball has passed over the goal line between the goal posts and under the crossbar.
Offside — A player is in an offside position if he or she is nearer to the opponent’s goal line than the ball unless (a) the player is in his or her own half of the field of play or (b) there are at least two opponents, including the goalkeeper, closer to their own goal line than the player.
If a player is declared offside, the referee awards an indirect free kick, which is taken by a player of the opposing team at the place where the offense occurred, unless the offense is committed by a player in the opponent’s goal area. If committed in the goal area, the free kick is taken from a point anywhere within that goal area.
Fouls and misconduct — A player who intentionally attempts to or actually kicks, trips, jumps, charges violently, charges from behind, strikes, holds, or pushes an opponent, or intentionally handles the ball is penalized by a direct free kick. Any of these offenses committed in the penalty area by a defender will result in a penalty kick awarded to the offensive team. A player committing less flagrant violations such as offside, dangerous play, obstruction, or unsportsmanlike conduct is penalized by an indirect free kick.
Free kicks — Free kicks are classified into two categories:
1) Direct, from which a goal can be scored directly against the offending side.
2) Indirect, from which a goal cannot be scored unless the ball has been touched by a player other than the kicker before entering the goal.
For all free kicks, the offending team must be at least 10 yards from the ball until it is kicked.
Penalty kick — A direct free kick taken at the penalty mark. All players except the goalkeeper and the player taking the kick must stay outside the penalty area or at least 10 yards from the ball (hence the arc at the edge of the penalty area).
Throw-in — When the ball has entirely crossed
the sideline, it is put back into play by a throw-in from the spot where it went out and by a player from the opposite team that last touched it. A goal cannot be scored directly from a throw-in.
Goal kick — When the ball has entirely crossed the goal line after being last touched by a player from the attacking team, it is put back into play by a kick from the goal area by the defending team.
Corner kick — When the ball has entirely crossed the goal line after being last touched by a player from the defending team, it is put back into play with a kick by the attacking team from the corner on the side the ball went out.
Player Positions – There are seven named positions in soccer. Their names and duties are
- Forward — An attacking player responsible for setting up and scoring goals. The forwards are the key offensive players.
- Striker — A central forward who scores often.
- Winger — The right and left outside forwards.
- Midfielder — Both an offensive and defensive player responsible for “linking” the forwards and defenders.
- Defender — Defensive player whose duty is to help the goalkeeper protect the goal. This player usually, but not always, stays at the rear of the attacking (offensive) team.
- Sweeper — A defender who covers behind the fullback line. This player’s duty is to pick off stray passes.
- Goalkeeper — The last defender of the goal. The goalkeeper is the only player who can use the hands. Use of hands is limited to the penalty area.
- Juggling is using the head, thighs, chest, and feet to control the ball without letting it touch the ground. It’s the first skill to learn in soccer because it develops balance, coordination, and confidence.
- Dribbling is the skill of controlling the ball with your feet while moving around an opponent in any direction you want to go. Good dribbling requires speed, the ability to change directions quickly, and the use of feints to move the ball down the field while you look for openings for a pass or dodge past opponents.
- Trapping is the skill of getting the ball to your feet as quickly as possible so that you are ready to dribble it forward, make a pass, or take a shot at the goal. However you receive the ball from a teammate, you must be able to control it as quickly as possible without using your hands and arms.
- Passing is the skill of kicking or heading the ball to a teammate and is essential to successful team play. Soccer passes are made with the inside or outside of the foot, the instep, or the forehead (called “heading”).
- Shooting the soccer ball utilizes the techniques of kicking, passing, and heading to score by shooting at the goal. When you shoot, aim away from the goalkeeper and into the corner of the goal with a lot of power behind the shot so that the goalkeeper can’t get to the ball and block your score.
- Heading means controlling the ball with the center of the forehead and is an important skill for all players to learn. Heading doesn’t hurt if it is done right. You might want to learn heading using a volleyball or other softer ball at first. Power and distance are achieved by getting the weight of your body behind the ball and by good timing.
- Tackling means using your feet to charge your opponent and take the ball from him or her. Tackling is similar to a slide in baseball. This is an essential defensive skill in soccer. The most important thing to remember about tackling is that you must attack the ball—not the player.
- The throw-in is awarded a team when the opposing team last touches the ball before the entire ball passes beyond the sideline. The throw-in is very important in soccer. It is the only time you may use your hands (unless you are the goalkeeper). Although you cannot score by throwing the ball into the goal, you can use a good throw-in to set up a scoring play. You may take a one- or two-step run-up before you throw the ball, but most of the power comes from strong arm and wrist action with a firm swing of the body from your waist.
- Goalkeeping is the goalkeeper’s duty—to keep the other team from scoring by preventing the ball from entering the goal. As the only player allowed to use the hands, the goalkeeper may catch the ball, block it away, or deflect the ball off course. Goalkeeping is the most specialized position on a soccer team because it requires a set of skills unlike those used by the other players. All players should learn the skills of goalkeeping and play this position as well as all others. Young players should not specialize in any one position.
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