How to Play Soccer For Beginners: A Complete Guide

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Written by Daniel Pena, Bachelors in Kinesiology and footballer: Learn More

How do you play soccer? The beautiful game is the world’s most popular sport for many reasons. One of those reasons is because it is one of the most simple sports to play that requires little to no equipment to start enjoying.

All you really need to start playing is the soccer ball, your bare feet, two goals, some friends, and you are ready to start playing. Everyday more and more players set out on a journey to become better footballers making the competition that much harder.

In this blog, I will be going over the basics that you must know to start playing soccer as a beginner.

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How to play Soccer

There are many different ways to play soccer because of all the variations that have been created throughout the years such as

In this blog post we will be focusing on the traditional 11v11 game. A soccer team is made up of eleven players on the field along with bench players that can be substituted in during the match.

A traditional soccer match is played between two teams and each game will last 90 minutes with two 45 minute halves plus added stoppage time and a 15-minute halftime break. The team to score the most goals at the end of regulation time wins the match.

Depending on the type of game, if both teams are tied, the game will either end in a draw, such as during league games, or it may go into extra time or a penalty kick shootout, for tournament play that needs a clear winner.

The center spot in the center circle is the kickoff spot where the game begins at the start of each half as well as to restart play after either team scores a goal In order for a goal to count, the entire ball has to cross the goal line, in between the two goalposts and underneath the crossbar.

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Soccer Equipment Needed:

As mentioned before, if you want to play soccer the only things you really need are the soccer ball and your bare feet. However if you want to play official variations of the game competitively you will need more equipment.

The right equipment is not only important for an optimal playing experience, but also to stay injury free.

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Basic Soccer Rules

Now that you have a better understanding of the basics of soccer and the essential equipment needed, let’s go over important soccer rules to know before you step on the field.

Soccer Field Dimensions

The dimensions of a full sized soccer field can vary based on age and playing level, but most fields will follow the guidelines established by FIFA and the International Football Association Board

  • The length of the field, also known as the sideline, should be between 100 and 110 meters (110 and 120 yards).
  • The width of the field, also known as the goalline, should be between 64 and 75 meters (70 and 80 yards).
  • The goal area, also known as the six-yard box, extends 6 yards (5.5 meters) out from the goal line and 6 yards (5.5 meters) across the field.
  • The penalty area, also known as the 18-yard box, extends 18 yards (16.5 meters) out from the goal line and 18 yards (16.5 meters) across the field.

Foul Play

Foul play relates to the fouls and offenses committed by players which have different consequences.

  • Only the goalkeeper is able to use their hands, if they are inside their penalty box, and any outfield player that uses their hands deliberately gets a foul called against them
  • Players cannot deliberately tackle, push, or disrespect other players, fans, coaches, and officials
  • Foul play may result in a yellow card, which acts as a warning, or a red card, which results in the player getting sent off the field
  • If a player commits a serious foul outside the penalty box, the other team is awarded a direct free kick
  • If a player commits a serious foul inside the penalty box, the other team is awarded a penalty kick
  • If a player commits a minor foul, inside or outside the penalty box, then the other team is awarded an indirect free kick

Out of bounds

Whenever the ball goes out of bounds, there are various ways to restart play.

  • If a team kicks the ball out of bounds through the sideline, the opposing team gets a throw in to restart play.
  • During throw ins, the ball must be thrown directly over the player’s head
  • If the defending team kicks the ball out of bounds through their goalline, the opposing team will get a corner kick
  • If the attacking team kicks the ball out of bounds through the opposing team’s goalline, the opposing team will get a goal kick

Offside

  • In soccer, a player is considered offside if they are nearer to the opponent’s goal line than both the ball and the second-to-last defender (usually the last outfield player, excluding the goalkeeper) at the moment the ball is played to them.
  • To be in an offside position is not an offense in itself; it only becomes an offense if the player becomes involved in the active play by interfering with an opponent or gaining an advantage from being in that position.

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Basic soccer Skills

Now that we have discussed soccer fundamentals, equipment needed, and important soccer rules, it is time to talk about the gameplay itself and the most important soccer skills needed to be a successful player.

These basic skills make up the foundation of soccer and these same skills are used all the way from grassroots teams all the way up to the professional level.

Along with having the key soccer skills mentioned above, it is equally important to understand soccer positions and formations.

How to Play Soccer

Soccer Positions and Formations

In soccer there are four main positions, goalkeeper, defenders, midfielders, and attackers and the number of players per main positions will depend on the formation and tactics used by the coach.

The maximum number of players per team is eleven and the minimum number is seven, which means if a team has fewer than seven players, due to players not showing up, not eligible, or receiving red cards, that team cannot play.

Here are the various soccer positions within each of the main soccer positions.

Each position is also associated with a specific jersey number, although today not every team follows this traditional numbering system. For example, the center midfielders are known as the number 8s and the center attacking midfielders are known as the number 10s.

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How to Get Better at Soccer

Now that you have all the information that you need to start playing soccer, what are your next steps? Your next step is to find a soccer team to train with because the best way to get better at the game is to play the game and learn through experience.

Also, by being part of a team you will learn from a coach and you will learn by watching your teammates. To find a team simply search on Google “soccer team in (enter your city here).”

Also make sure to search for a team that is your age group and playing level. Being in a team environment is the best way to improve as a player and that is your main goal if you are not in a team already.

Once you find a team you have to train consistently with them, play as many variations of the game as possible on days off and take care of every aspect of your life that impacts performance including:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best soccer training program?

The best online soccer training program and soccer app is Football Entangled. There is no other program like Football Entangled on the market and this community, much more than just an app, will help you get closer to making your dreams a reality.

How can I learn more about the game?

To learn more about soccer the most important thing is to join a team and play the game as much as possible. If possible, analyze high level games as much as you can and your own games as well by recording them with a soccer camera. Also read soccer books, listen to podcasts, watch soccer documentaries, as well as some movies, tv shows, and anime.

What equipment do you need to play in official soccer games?

The equipment that you will need to play an official soccer game, whether that is a youth soccer game or an adult game, includes a soccer ball, soccer cleats, soccer socks, shin guards, shorts, and a team jersey.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the beautiful game is one of the most, if not the most, popular sport in the world with hundreds to thousands of new soccer players daily. In this blog, I covered everything you need to know about how to play soccer from the soccer equipment needed, to the basic rules of soccer, as well as important skills to improve for faster player development.

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