The Basics of Playing the Game of Soccer

Kids Playing Soccer
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One of the things that make soccer so alluring is its simplicity. The rules, gear, and team play are rather simple, which is one of the main reasons it's such a popular sport. But if you're brand new to the game, it's important to understand the basics.

From field dimensions to the famous offside trap, let's take a look at how to play soccer.

Soccer Basics

As with any sport, it's best to begin with the fundamental elements before you dive into playing the game. For instance, you'll find it interesting to know that we really don't know who invented soccer. However, it certainly is an ancient game. Whether we can thank the Greeks, Egyptians, or Chinese for it is a matter of debate.

Also, remember that in the United States it's called soccer, but in the rest of the world, this sport is called football.

The good news for players and parents is that soccer does not require much equipment. Essentially, your soccer gear should include a jersey, shorts, long socks, shin guards, and cleats. Goalies need gloves and some players prefer headgear, but it's not essential. From there, it's just a soccer ball and two goals, though your coach and soccer association will take care of those.

Once you have the gear, you need to know about the players on the field. The goalkeeper is the best-known player and is responsible for guarding the goal. There are defenders, midfielders, and forwards as well. You'll also find two hybrid positions called the sweeper and the libero.

The soccer field is pretty standard and very simple. Depending on the level of play, the field will change in size, with the pros playing on the biggest fields. Each field has two goals, penalty areas, a halfway line, and a touchline that defines the perimeter.

The last element that is required for any soccer game are the officials. The referee is the main official and is in charge of the game. You will also have two linesmen that keep an eye on the field boundaries. A fourth official is positioned between the two teams and he takes care of details like substitutions and the game clock.

How to Play Soccer

There are 17 basic rules (or laws) of soccer that you should familiarize yourself with. They span all the fundamentals of playing a game, from the size of the soccer ball to throw-ins, goal kicks, and corner kicks.

You will also want to learn some of the essential soccer moves and plays. Passing is very important and a skill you'll definitely want to work on. Likewise, what is known as "the first touch" will help you know what to do when you get the ball. And, of course, you'll want to practice striking your soccer shot and be ready to kick a goal.

One of the best-known soccer moves is the defensive header. Yes, this is where you get to hit the ball with your head, but it needs to be done carefully so you avoid injury.

Your coach will also want you to brush up on how to avoid a foul. When you know what not to do, you won't be penalized by the referee. Related to that is understanding how to avoid the offside trap.

Playing as a Team

Soccer is a team sport and your coach will drill you in developing good team plays. Even if the players on the field look like they're running around randomly, it's a well-choreographed machine with everyone doing his part.

Formations in soccer determine where each player should be in any given play. There are a number of common formations used by the youngest kids up to the highest ranked professionals and each has a purpose. Overall, the main goal is, of course, to set the team up to score a goal. Studying your formations will help make that happen.

Learn From the Pros

Beyond practicing your own skills, you can learn a lot by watching professional soccer players. This sport is popular worldwide and there is no shortage of pro games to watch.

For example, the Premier League is an elite group of 20 teams that play a regular season. From there, the top four teams qualify for the next season's Champions League.

The biggest stage for soccer, however, is the World Cup. This is organized by FIFA and is the ultimate championship in worldwide soccer. Once you start following these teams, you'll find a ton of excitement in each game and realize why people can't get enough of the sport.

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