May 9, 2023

8 Simple Soccer Rules All Players and Parents Should Know

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Mike Semenza


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Soccer is a complex sport, but the overall objective is to get the ball into the other person’s goal.

The rules change and become more complicated depending on the level of play. For the youngest soccer players, there are only a few rules to follow. For competitive, elite-level players, high school or older, there are many more rules that need to be adhered to.

The International Federation of Football, or FIFA, is the official rules creator and holder. But the basic rules of the game are pretty simple.

Rule 1 – No Hands

Most people know that there is a no hands rule in soccer. Only the goalkeeper is allowed to use their hands. As a field player, you can use your hands if you are attempting a throw-in. Your hand is anywhere from your fingers to your shoulders. The upper part of your shoulder is legal to use!

On a side note, for goalies, you cannot use your hands if you are passed the ball from one of your teammates or if you are outside of the penalty box area. Once you are outside the box, you are considered a normal player.

Rule 2 – Goal

For a goal to count, the ball must cross the goal line. If the ball comes in contact with the end line in the inner part of the goal, it is not a goal. It must cross the line completely. Same if it is in the air. Goal line technology is at the professional, but not for lower level, amateur teams. The assistant referee (AR) must keep a close eye on the line.

If the goalie catches the ball for a save, but crosses into the goal or makes the catch behind the goal line, it is still a goal.

Rule 3 – Ball Out of Play

Every soccer field is outlined with sidelines and end lines. The end lines run along and behind the goal. If the ball crosses the sideline, the team that did not knock the ball out gets a throw-in. If the ball crosses the end line, two things occur. If the team that is attacking kicks the ball out of the end line area, then the ball becomes a goal kick for the other team. If the team that is defending touches the ball last before passing the end line, then the ball becomes a corner kick for the attacking team.

Rule 4 – Throw-Ins

When the ball crosses the sideline and goes out of play, a throw-in is given to the team who did not touch the ball last. The sideline referee, AR, will signal with their flag which team receives the throw-in. There is no offside with a throw-in and you cannot score directly from a throw-in. To have a proper throw-in, the player must plant both feet on the ground and uses both hands to throw the ball back into play. Both hands must come behind the head of the player and the player cannot cross the sideline. Their feet must remain outside the line of play.

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Rule 5 – Corner Kicks & Goal Kicks

A corner kick or goal kick is taken when the ball is kicked out of the field past the end or goal line. If the defensive team is the last one to touch the ball, then the offensive team receives a corner kick from the side of the field nearest to where the ball crossed the end line. If the offensive team is the last to touch the ball before it leaves the field, then the defensive team takes a goal kick. A goal kick is set up from inside the goal box. The goalkeeper or any field player may kick the goal kick. The opposing team cannot be inside the penalty box during the goal kick.

Rule 6 – Game in Play

When the ball is on the field inside the sidelines, or in bounds, the game is in play. The only exception is when the referee blows his whistle for offside or an infraction. The ball is still in play even if it touches the outer part of the lines. The game continues until the referee blows the whistle.

Rule 7 – Fouls

It is the referee’s responsibility to enforce infractions of the rules and to catch any misconduct on the field. This maintains safe play for all involved in the game. Players cannot kick, jump at, trip, strike, push, charge, or hold an opponent. When a foul occurs, the team that was fouled gets a free kick at the location of the foul. Common fouls include handballs, aggressive play, and vulgar behavior/language.

Rule 8 – Penalty Kicks

If the defending team commits a foul or infraction inside the penalty box, a penalty kick is awarded to the other team. The ball is placed on the penalty spot that is approximately 12 yards out from the goal line. The player must kick the ball in a forward motion. They cannot touch the ball more than one time. The goalkeeper is required to stay on the goal line until the shooter kicks the ball.

Go Out and Enjoy!

Now you should have a good understanding of the basic rules of soccer that are applied to all ages. Soccer rules become much more technical and complicated the higher you play competitively. But these eight basic rules should get you on your way to understanding the game much better.

If you are still struggling to understand the rules, feel free to reach out to one of our amazing Blayze private soccer coaches.

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Blayze Coach Mike Semenza

Mike Semenza

6+ years of professional coaching with LA Galaxy, EXOS and COPA STC


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