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Soccer Rules

Soccer Rules

Soccer is perhaps the most popular participant sport in the U.S.  It’s estimated that over three million children and youth play soccer on an organized team.  Here are some of the basics of the game.

Each soccer team has 11 players consisting of a goalkeeper, defenders, midfielders, and forwards.  Except for one instance, players can use any part of their bodies except the hands to propel the ball.  The object is to get the ball into the other team’s goal.  The team with the most goals at the game’s end it the winner.

The only player who can touch the ball with his or her hands is the goalkeeper (or goalie).  If a player other than the goalie intentionally handles the ball, the opponent gets a direct free kick.  There are other types of penalties, too.  Players are given a yellow card by the official to caution a player, and a red card is given to punish a more serious offense such as violent conduct or foul language.  A red card means the player must leave the game.

Sometimes referees will call a foul on a player for slide tacklingThis is when a player extends one eg to push the ball away from the opposing player.  Slide tackling is permitted as long as the kicker contacts the ball during the tackle, and in the opinion of the referee, there was no deliberate attempt to harm the opponent.

While shooting the ball into the goal is every player’s aim, passing and dribbling are also important skills.  Passing is when one player uses the inside of his or her foot to kick the ball to a teammate.  Dribbling is the ability to advance the ball past an opponent while remaining in control of the ball. Dribbling can be done using a series of simple taps or an agile move around a foe.

Unlike American football or basketball where the game clock occasionally stops, in soccer, the clock ticks even when the ball is out of play, during substitutions, and during free kicks.  If the ball goes out of bounds on the sidelines, a throw-in is used to restart play.  A throw-in is when a player throws the ball from behind his or her head with two hands while standing with both feet on the ground behind a sideline.  Other restarts such as a corner kick is awarded to the opposing team when a player last touches the ball over his own goal line.

Soccer is a fast-paced game requiring skill and stamina.  It is played in nearly every country in the world, so the next time you play, you’re in good company!

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