Basic Rules of Soccer - Part 2

Learn the rules of soccer for beginners and discover easy ways to modify the game for young players, those with limited skills, or individuals with disabilities.

In Part 1, we learned about the playing field, positions, equipment, playing the ball, and scoring. We will cover the remainder of the basic soccer rules below.

rules of soccer

Rules of Soccer
Out of Play

The ball is out of play when it completely crosses the boundary lines on the field or when the referee has blown his whistle to stop play. It isn't out if it's touching the line. Play is restarted by a throw-in when the ball has crossed the sidelines, and by either a goal kick or a corner kick when it has crossed the goal line. 


basic rules of soccer - throw in

A throw-in is taken along the sideline at the spot where the ball went out of bounds. It is taken by the team not responsible for putting the ball out of play. On a throw-in, the player must:

  • have both hands on the ball.
  • throw the ball from behind and over the head.
  • face the play.
  • keep part of each foot on the ground at the time of release.
  • keep her feet either behind or on the sideline.

If any of these rules are broken, the other team is granted the ball at that spot. You can't score a goal directly from a throw-in, and the player throwing the ball in is not allowed to touch it until another player has touched it.

Goal Kick

A goal kick is awarded to the defending team when the offense kicks the ball out of bounds across the goal line (end line.) It:

  • can be taken by any player, including the goalie.
  • is placed on the upper corner of the goalie box on the side of the goal area where the ball went out.
  • must travel outside of the penalty area.
  • may not be touched by the kicker until another player has touched it.

All players must remain outside of the penalty area until the ball is kicked, and a goal can’t be scored directly from a goal kick.

Corner Kick

youth soccer rules - corner kick

A corner kick it awarded to the offensive team if the ball goes out of bounds across the goal line. It's taken from the quarter circle with the flag in the corner of the field on the side of the field where the ball went out of bounds. On a corner kick:

  • the corner flag may not be moved.
  • opponents must stay at least 10 yards away until the ball is kicked.
  • a goal can be scored.
  • the kicker may not touch it again until another player has touched it.

Rules of Soccer

An offensive player is offside if, when the ball is played, she is closer to the goal than 2 defensive players and the ball, unless:

  • she is in her own half of the field.
  • an opponent was the last player to touch the ball.
  • she receives the ball directly from a goal kick, corner kick, throw-in, or when the referee drops the ball.

Rules of Soccer
Fouls & Misconduct

Free Kick

A free kick is either a direct or indirect kick taken from the place where an offense occurred. The ball is stationary, and all opponents must be 10 yards from the ball.

Direct Free Kick

direct free kick is awarded if any of the following fouls are committed by a defender in his penalty area:

  • tripping.
  • holding an opponent.
  • touching the ball with a hand or arm.
  • kicking an opponent.
  • jumping at or charging at an opponent in a violent manner.
  • hitting or pushing an opponent.

The kicker can score directly from the kick.

Indirect Free Kick

An indirect free kick is awarded for:

basic soccer rules - penalty kick
  • dangerous play.
  • charging fairly when the ball isn't within playing distance.
  • intentionally obstructing an opponent without trying to play the ball.
  • charging the goalkeeper.
  • offside.
  • a player touching the ball a second time on a throw-in, kick-off, goal kick, corner kick, or penalty kick before someone else touches it.
  • entering or leaving the game without the referee's permission.

It's okay to charge a goalkeeper if she:

  • is holding the ball.
  • is obstructing an opponent.
  • goes outside of her goal area.

A goal can't be scored until the ball has been touched by another player.

Penalty Kick

A penalty is a direct free kick that is awarded to the attacking team when an offense occurs by a defender inside his own penalty area. On a penalty kick:

  • the ball is placed on the penalty spot.
  • all players except the goalie must stand outside the penalty area at least 10 yards from the penalty spot.
  • the ball must be kicked forward.
  • the kicker can’t touch the ball again until another player has touched it.
  • the goalie must stand still on the goal line until the ball is kicked.

Rules of Soccer

soccer rules - yellow card

The referee may caution a player if he:

  • enters or leaves the game without the ref's permission.
  • continually breaks the rules.
  • shows disrespect toward the officials.
  • has unsportsmanlike conduct.

Rules of Soccer
Sending Off

The referee may send a player off the field for the rest of the game if she:

  • commits acts of violence or serious unsportsmanlike conduct.
  • uses foul or abusive language.
  • continues to break the rules after the official's cautionary warning.

Soccer rules cont'd...  Prev  Next

For young players, beginners, or those with disabilities, try out some of these modified soccer rules...

To learn more about youth soccer at the national level, check out US Youth Soccer.

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