Mastering the Soccer Basics for Beginners (2024)

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

Are you a beginner looking to master the soccer basics? The beautiful game is the most popular sport in the world and everyday more and more players set out on a dream to become professionals making the competition that much harder.

If you are a beginner or youth player, the best tip I can give you for becoming a better soccer player is to master the basics and most important skills of the game.

In this blog, I will cover everything you need to know about basic soccer rules and skills to know as a beginner.

soccer basics

Image by Victor

The Structure of Soccer

The first part of understanding the basic rules of soccer is to understand the structure of the game.

Soccer Field Layout

Soccer, also called football in many countries, is a popular team sport played with a soccer ball between two teams of 11 players. The game is played on a rectangular field, called a pitch, with a soccer goal behind each goal line for each team to defend.

The goal is located inside the penalty area/penalty box, the bigger rectangle, which also has the penalty spot and the goal kick area, the smaller rectangle. Each goal line has two corner kick arcs, where players take corner kicks, and the vertical longer lines are called the side lines, where players take throw-ins from if the ball goes out of bounds.

The game begins with kickoff at the center spot of the center circle, which is at the halfway line. The soccer field can also be divided into thirds covering the defending, midfield, and attacking thirds.

Positions on a Soccer Team

Within each of the main thirds of the field, that is where the different players are placed and take their positions on the field. 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.

Duration and Additional Time

In soccer there are two halves that are both 45 minutes each with a 15 minute break for a total of 90 minutes of play. After the 45 minutes of regulation time per half, stoppage time, or injury time, will be added on by the refs due to lost time during fouls, set pieces, celebrations, and substitutions.

Stoppage time causes the half to go past 45 minutes and you will usually see it next to the scoreboard with “+” sign once the timer reaches 45 or 90 minutes depending on the half. In soccer, league games can end in draws, but games that need a clear winner, such as tournament games, cannot.

If a game is tied at the end of regulation time and there must be a winner, the game will go into extra time and potentially a penalty shootout, if no team wins after the end of extra time.

FIFA

FIFA is the international federation that governs world football and they divide the world of football into 6 regions. Within each region, countries have their own national teams that compete in local tournaments and World Cup qualification matches.

FIFA is also responsible for hosting international tournament play such as the prestigious World Cup tournament, and Championships to find out who is the best country in each of the main regions.

soccer basics

Image by Adrià Crehuet Cano

Basic Soccer Rules

Now that you are familiar with the structure of the game we have to talk about basic soccer rules which FIFA and the International Football Association Board call “The Laws of the Game.”

Fouls

Fouls or offenses are infractions committed by players which can result in free kicks or penalty kicks for the other team and disciplinary cards for the player who committed the fouls.

Yellow or Red Card:

A yellow or a red card can be given to a player that commits a foul by the referee. A yellow card acts as an official warning and the red card acts as immediate ejection from the game.

Penalty Kick:

A penalty kick is a direct shot at the goal awarded for serious fouls within the penalty area/ penalty box.

Indirect Free Kick:

An indirect free kick is a type of free kick that requires the ball to touch another player before a goal can be scored.

Direct Free Kick:

A direct free kick is the type of free kick that allows an immediate shot at the goal from the site of the foul.

Corner Kick:

A corner kick is a strategic set-piece awarded when the defending team kicks the ball across their own goal line.

Goal Kick:

A goal kick is a method of restarting play by the defending team after the attacking team kicks the ball over the defending team’s goal line.

Throw-ins:

A throw-in is a technique used to re-enter the ball into play, requiring both feet on the ground and a two-handed throw over the head.

Offsides Rule:

The offsides rule prevents attackers from positioning ahead of the second-to-last defender before the soccer ball is played to them.

Substitutions:

The players that are on the bench at the start of the game that can be substituted for any of the players on the field.

Goal Scoring Rules:

In order for a goal to count the entire soccer ball has to cross the line

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Important Soccer Equipment

The next most important soccer basics to know about involves the training equipment. Soccer is a simple game that does not require much equipment, but some equipment can enhance the quality of your training sessions and overall playing experience.

Soccer Balls

Arguably the most important piece of soccer equipment is the soccer ball itself because it is the one piece of equipment you need to start playing any variation of the game. Along with a soccer ball it is important to have a reliable soccer ball pump to inflate or deflate soccer balls.

Soccer Cleats

Having the right type of soccer cleats based on playing surface and personal preferences is crucial for optimal performance and injury prevention.

  • Firm Ground Cleats: Designed for natural grass fields.
  • Soft Ground Cleats: Designed for wet and muddy grass field
  • Artificial Turf Shoes: Designed for artificial surfaces
  • Indoor shoes: Designed for indoor surfaces and harder outdoor surfaces
  • If you have wide feet consider wide soccer cleats
  • Also, consider cleats made out of high quality materials such as leather, which can mold to the shape of your feet for a custom and perfect fit.
  • High quality insoles can also help the comfort of your soccer cleats

Shin guards

Shin guards are crucial for player safety and necessary to play in an official game. Knowing how to wear shin guards is very important and there are various types such as smaller shin guards that feel more lightweight to bigger shin guards that provide more protection. Also, consider wearing shin guard sleeves to help hold everything in place.

Soccer Socks or grip socks

Along with the right type of cleats and shin guards, it is also very important to have the right type of soccer socks, long soccer socks or grip socks.

Training Gear

Having soccer specific training gear is also very important such as the right soccer shorts, soccer training jerseys, headbands, massage tools, and ankle braces.

soccer basics Image by Peter Idowu

Basic Soccer Skills

Most players think that to become a professional soccer player you need to be really fancy and skillful such as Neymar. While that is helpful, you need to master the basics of soccer to reach a high level because all the fancy foot stuff looks great on camera and does work a lot of the time but that only makes up about 99% of what is really happening in a game. Focus on mastering the basic skills of the game before focusing on more fancy moves.

Passing:

The art of passing involves distributing the ball accurately and efficiently to teammates. As a player you need to master various types of passes, including short passes, long passes, and through balls with both feet.

Ball Control:

A player’s ability to control and receive the ball with precision is just as important as how well they’re able to pass the ball to someone else. If you are able to control the ball well, then that can set you up to perform your next move much easier than if you are not able to properly control the ball.

Dribbling:

Dribbling allows soccer players to navigate through the opposing team with ball control and agility. Key elements of effective dribbling include keeping your eyes up, quick changes in direction, using body feints, and close ball control.

Shooting:

Scoring goals is the main objective of a soccer game, which makes shooting a ball also one of the most important skills. Even as a defender you never know when you will get a chance to shoot at goal and change the outcome of the game. Adding a curve to a shot is also a great shooting, and even passing, technique to master to add more unpredictability to your game.

Juggling:

Although juggling is a simple skill that you will not really be doing in a real game, the skills that you learn by juggling such as your touch, ball control, keeping track of the ball with your eyes, and more can help improve various other skills.

soccer basics

Image by Giorgio Trovato

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.

Conclusion

In conclusion, understanding the basic concepts of soccer games is crucial for any aspiring player, soccer coach, or fan. In this blog, I covered everything that you need to know about soccer basics from the structure of the game, to the basic soccer rules, to equipment and skills needed to play.

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