How to Play Soccer:
A Basic Guide to the Game

On this page I am going to explain how to play soccer as I would to a person to whom I am introducing soccer for the first time. So if you can already go out and play soccer with your friends and are just looking for basic rules, you might want to skip over how to play soccer and look at the questioned rules page.

Soccer is played on a large field. At either end of the field there are two goals.


To score you get the ball into the opposing teams goal. The object of the game is to score the most goals.

Playing the Game

World Cup time for a game is ninety minutes with two forty-five minute halves, yet some school leagues will do an hour. Most people who are just playing for fun don't set a time and just play till they decide to stop.

In soccer you may not touch the ball with any part of your arms or hands unless you are the goalie (we'll get to the goalie later). If you touch the ball illegally, the other team gets a free kick, also known as a penalty kick.

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The idea is to drive the ball toward the opposing goal using mainly your feet (although using your head and chest when the ball is in the air is useful).

The ball is placed in the exact center of the field to start the game. Each of the two teams starts on their own half of the field. Before the ball is kicked off you are not allowed to cross the center line.

You may pick which team gets to kick off first in whatever way you like. The team that does not get the kick off in the first half, gets the kick off in the second half. When kicking off the team selects one their players to perform the kick (this player will be one of the strikers which we will get to later).

Once the ball is kicked off you simply drive the ball toward the other goal and try to score.

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Out of Bounds

If the ball goes out of bounds on either side of the field, then the team opposing the last person to touch the ball gets it. One of their players stands where the ball crossed the sideline and throws the ball back in. (When throwing the ball in you must keep both feet on the ground, use both hands to throw it, and throw from behind your head.)

If the ball is sent out of bounds on the end of the field by a player who is on the team that the goal belongs to, the opposing team gets a free kick from the corner of the field that is closest to where the ball crossed the line. This is called a corner kick.

If the ball is sent out of bounds on the end of the field by a player who is not on the team that the goal belongs to, then the opposing team's goalie gets a free kick from the goalie box. This is called a golie kick.

The Team

There are eleven players on each team (although you can play with more or less if you're just playing for fun). Each player is put in one of four basic positions: goal keeper or "goalie" (there can only be one keeper on each team), defense (also fullback, stopper, and sometimes sweeper), midfielder (also center midfield and winger), and striker (forward).

The most common set up is to have a goalie, four defense, four midfielders, and two strikers (although you may set up however many in each position as you like, as long as you only have one goalie).

The Goalie

The goalie is allowed to touch the ball with whatever part of the body he wishes as long as he or she is in the goalie box. If the goalie touches the ball with a hand or arm outside the goalie box, then the hand ball penalty applies.

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The goalie's job is to make sure that the other team does not score. he is supposed to block all the shots at the goal.

If the goalie picks the ball up in the goalie box, he can then drop kick the ball or throw it (preferably to one of their own players).

If the ball is kicked to the goalie from one of his own teammates the goalie is not allowed to pick it up even if he is in the goalie box. However, if the ball is passed to the goalie by one of his own players using the head or torso, then the goalie is free to pick it up.


The defender's job is to assist the goalie. They are supposed to prevent the opposing team from shooting at the goal, by stealing the ball and giving it to their own offensive players before the opposing offense shoots.

As a general rule, the defense should stay on their own half of the field; although no player has a place that they are not allowed to go it is still a good idea to stay in your position unless your team would really benefit from your going further.


The midfielder's job is to drive the ball up the field, assist the strikers in scoring, and to help prevent the opposing offense from scoring. The midfielders would do well to be among the more fit players on the team.

The two center midfielders should be more offensive and the two outside should play more defensive, but they should all do their best to stop the ball coming toward their goal and drive it toward the other goal. Having two more offensive and two more defensive midfielders allows them to not have to play across the majority of the length of the field.

Midfielders should stay in the area from the front of their own goalie box to the front of the opposing teams goalie box.


The striker's job is to score goals. Any player is allowed to score a goal; however, this should be done mostly by the strikers.

The strikers should be fast and able to drive the ball. They should always be ready to receive a pass and take it to the goal.

A good striker should be able to see where is the best place for hisself to be to receive a ball and shoot.

These players should be adept at shooting and dribbling (passing is also very necessary for every player on the field). Yet the strikers should not just shoot the ball as soon as they get it. They should work with each other and the midfielders to drive it up for a good shot.


This is a quick instruction on how to play soccer. Please do not assume that this is everything to know about the game. This is just one page, but it should be enough for you to be able to understand how to play soccer.