Basic Rules of Soccer

A Complete Guide for Basic Rules of Soccer

    Soccer is one of the, if not the, most popular sports in the world. It is watched across the globe and fewer requirements make it much more accessible for playing as well. People across the globe from various backgrounds play soccer.

    Like any other sport, though, it would become even more fun if you understood the basic rules of soccer. Be it watching, casually playing, or actually training, it’s always important to know the basic rules.

    In this article, we will explain all the basic rules of soccer:

    Some basic gameplay rules

    Soccer is played on a soccer field between two teams, each comprising 11 players. The aim of the sport is to score more goals than your opponents. A goal is scored when a player from a team puts the ball in the back of the next of the opposing team.

    A general soccer game is 90 minutes long, which is divided into two halves of 45 minutes each, with a 10-15 minute break in between.

    The match starts with a kick-off. The team that gets to take the kick-off first is decided by a toss just before the match. The other team takes the kick-off to begin the second half. There are some rules during the kick-off as well:

    • All players must be in their own halves of the pitch before the kick-off.
    • The ball must be stationary before being kicked.
    • The player who takes the kick-off can only touch it again after another player has touched it first.
    • The opponents must be at least 10 yards away from the ball.

    Basic rules of soccer:

    • Handball – No player, except the goalkeeper, is allowed to touch the ball with their hands. If they do, the opponent team gets a foul.
    • Throw-ins – When the ball goes out of the touchline on either side of the pitch, it’s called a throw-in. The player who had the last touch of the ball before it went out has conceded the throw-in and the opponent will restart the play by throwing the ball in with their hands.
    • Goal kicks and Corners – When the ball goes out of the touchline behind the goal, it can be either a goal kick or a corner. If the player puts the ball behind the line on either side of the goal they are attacking, the game restarts with a goal kick for the opponent.

    However, if a player puts it behind the goal they’re defending, it restarts with a corner kick for the opponent.

    • Stoppage Time – Once the game starts on either half, the clock doesn’t stop for anything be it a corner, throw-in or even injuries. The time that the ball is out of play is calculated and it is ended at the end of each half, which is called stoppage time.
    • Offside – A player is deemed to be offside when they are behind the second-last man while attacking towards the goal when the ball is played. It could give the attacker an advantage and hence, the rule came into play.

    Soccer Field and Lines

    A soccer field is rectangular with a goal placed in the middle of each of the shorter sides. The field should be around 100 to 120 yards long and 70 to 80 yards wide. The field has various markings, which must be clearly visible.

    • Touchlines/Sidelines – These are the lines that run on the outside of the entire length of the pitch to denote the playing area.
    • Bylines – These are the lines that run the entire width of the pitch to denote the playing area.
    • Center Line – This runs parallel to the shorter side through the middle of the pitch, dividing it in half.
    • Corner arcs – These are present at each corner of the field and denote from where the corner kick needs to take place.
    • Penalty Area – It is a large rectangular 18-yard area, present just outside each goal.

    Basic soccer rules regarding teams and players

    Each team has 11 players on the pitch with one of them being a goalkeeper. The match only begins or continues if there are at least seven players on either side and one of them must be a goalkeeper.

    Each time also gets to name a few substitutes for their bench. Depending upon the rules of their respective boards, a team can make a number of substitutions during a game. For the Football Association in England, a team can make a maximum of five substitutions but through a maximum of three windows.

    Penalties and Fouls

    Basic Rules of Soccer
    Referee shows former Barcelona defender a yellow card (Pic credits: Getty)

    There are various punishments in soccer for different actions. Things like tripping, pushing, shoving, holding, kicking, handling the ball, etc. can lead to a foul for the opponent. Depending upon the intensity of the foul and match situation, the player doing these things could also get a card.

    Soccer currently has two cards:

    • Red Card – This is shown for a violent tackle or a tackle that endangers the safety of a player. It can also be shown to deny a clear goalscoring opportunity.

    A player who gets a red card is straightaway removed from the pitch and their team will have to play with a man short. The player could also be suspended for 1 or 3 further games depending upon their offense.

    • Yellow Card – This card is shown for tactical fouls, late tackles, or other fouls which might not necessarily be violent but as a warning. If a player gets two yellow cards in the same game, it turns into a red card and they are sent off.

    Rules regarding equipment

    • All players must remove any jewellery before playing as it could hurt an opponent.
    • A player must be in their full gear.
    • The players of opposing teams must wear kits that are easily distinguishable. Hence, teams have multiple kits in cases of clashes.