Terminology | Player Positions and Definitions
A soccer field is a minimum of 100 yards long and 50 yards wide. The penalty area, which begins at the end line, is a rectangular area that is 44 yards wide and 18 yards deep. At the top of the penalty area is a semicircle, which is called the penalty arc. The goal is 24 feet wide and 8 feet high.
Each team has 11 players play at once, and each game is 90 minutes long. There are two halves which are 45 minutes each with a 15 minute break in between. Extra time can be added onto a game because of substitutions, injuries and other stops of play. If the score is tied after regulation, the game will end in a tie.
The entire ball has to cross over the goal line to be considered a goal and is negated if the attacking team commits a foul.
In/Out of Play
The ball is considered out of play when it has fully crossed the end line or sideline. The ball is considered in play if it rebounds off a referee or assistant referee standing on the field or after hitting the crossbar, goal posts and corner flags. The player with the ball may stand out of bounds while dribbling the ball when it is in play.
When a team knocks the ball out of bounds along the sideline, a throw-in is awarded to the other team. Players must throw the ball from behind their head. The thrower cannot touch the ball once it's thrown in until it's touched by another player. If the throw-in is not performed correctly, the referee can award the ball to the opposing team.
Corner kicks are awarded to the attacking team when the defending team kicks or heads the ball over the end line or the goalkeeper knocks the ball over the crossbar. The line where the kicks are taken are marked by arcs and are in the four corners of the field.
A goal kick occurs when a member of the attacking team knocks the ball over the end line or over the crossbar. The defending team then gets to kick the ball from the top of the goal area.
A hand ball occurs when players deliberately touch the ball with their hands or arms. The ball is awarded to the opposing team after the foul.
A player is in an offside position if he is in his opponents' half of the field and is nearer to his opponents' goal line than the ball and all but one of his opponents. A player in an offside position is only committing an offside offence if, in the opinion of the referee, he is involved in active play "at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team." A player is not committing an offside offence if the player receives the ball directly from a throw-in, goal kick or corner kick, or if the player receiving the ball is level with or behind the player passing. In the event of an offside offence, the referee awards an indirect free kick to the opposing team to be taken from the place where the infringement occurred.
The rules say that the referee should call a foul if he believes they are committed in a manner he considers "careless, reckless or using excessive force." There are 2 kinds of fouls, Direct Kick Fouls & Indirect Kick Fouls:
Direct Kick Fouls - For which the other team receives a "direct free kick" (meaning a goal can be scored by kicking the ball straight into the goal).
Indirect Kick Fouls - For which the other team receives an "indirect free kick" (meaning a goal only counts if another player touches the ball before it enters the goal). The indirect free kick is taken from where the offense occurred. If on an Indirect Free Kick the ball is kicked into the goal without anyone else touching it (other than the kicker) the goal does not count and the other team is awarded a goal kick. However, if the ball is touched by a player on either team, including the goalkeeper, before it goes into the goal, the goal counts.
Question: "How do you know if a free kick is indirect?" Answer: "The referee will raise his arm above his head and leave it up until the ball is kicked".
When a player commits a foul within his own Penalty Box, which would normally result in a Direct Free Kick, the other team is given a Penalty Kick ("PK"). On Penalty Kicks, everyone but the kicker & goalkeeper must stay out of the Penalty Box until the kicker moves the ball.
There are 2 colors of "cards" which the referee will hold up to indicate serious fouls or behavior which won't be tolerated. These cards are about the size of a playing card and one is yellow and the other is red. When a card is shown to the offending player the referee will stop the game, call the player over, hold up the card and write the player's name in his notebook. Any time a Yellow or Red Card is shown, a "direct" or "indirect kick" will also be awarded.
Yellow Card - Indicates a formal "caution" for any of the following 7 offenses:
- "unsporting behavior" – (this includes hard fouls)
- dissent by word or actions
- persistently breaking the rules
- delaying the restart of play
- defenders failing to stay the proper distance away from the kicker on a corner kick, free kick or throw-in
- entering or re-entering the field without the referee's permission
- deliberately leaving the field without the referees permission
A player who receives 2 Yellow Cards is given a Red Card & ejected.
Red Card - A player must be shown a Red Card and "sent off" (i.e., made to leave the field) for the 7 offenses listed below. A player shown a "Red Card" and sent off may not be replaced during that game (i.e., his team must play a player "short" for the rest of the game). The 7 offenses for which a player must be shown a Red Card and sent off are:
- serious foul play (includes any use of excessive force or brutality against an opponent when challenging for the ball)
- violent conduct
- spitting at anyone
- deliberately touching the ball with a hand in order to prevent a goal or to deny an obvious goal scoring opportunity
- fouling an opponent to prevent an obvious goal scoring opportunity
- using offensive, insulting or threatening language and/or gestures
- or receiving a second yellow card in one game
Terminology | Player Positions and Definitions
A goalkeeper's job is to prevent the ball from going into the goal. Keepers are the only players on the field who can intentionally touch the ball with their arms or hands, but they can only do so inside the penalty area. If keepers touch the ball with their hands outside of the penalty area, the attacking team is awarded a free kick from the spot of the foul.
Defenders play in front of the keeper and are responsible for stopping the opposition's attacks or slowing them down. Defenders' assignments can vary between man-to-man coverage or zone defense. The two types of defenders are outside fullbacks and central defenders. Outside fullbacks play on the left and right sides of the field and patrol the flanks. They rarely move from their sides of the field. Central defenders defend the middle of the field. Overlapping is when defenders become a part of the offensive attack by overlapping their position into the attack.
Midfielders are the link between the defense and the offense because they need to attack and defend. Defensive midfielders often defend the opposition's best player. They also have the responsibility of picking off errant passes, starting the transition from defense to offense and sometimes becoming a part of the offensive attack. Attacking midfielders should be able to find teammates with passes and be able to score.
A forward's primary responsibility is to score or to help other teammates score. Strikers, who play in the middle, are known as center forwards. They need to handle the ball, be quick in tight quarters and score under pressure. The other forwards are called wings. They play on the left and right sides and are responsible for ball possession, dribbling and crossing, which is when they send the ball into the middle of the penalty area for the striker.