A Beginner’s Guide to Soccer

A Beginner’s Guide to Soccer

Any sport is overwhelming and challenging for a newcomer. Soccer is one of the most decorated sports in the world, and many kids love to play and watch the game. 

The game of soccer is simple in concept but it requires skills, strategy, and teamwork for a player to be effective on the field.

Learning the basic rules of soccer and improving your skills through consistent practice is essential. This beginner’s guide will help you understand the very basics of the game we call soccer!

The Objective of the Game

The object of soccer is simple – to score more goals than the opposing team. A goal is scored when the ball crosses the goal line between the goalposts and under the crossbar. The team with the most goals at the end of the game wins.

Keep in mind that soccer games can end in a tie!

The Soccer Field

The soccer field is rectangular and typically measures between 100-130 yards in length and 50-100 yards in width. The field is divided into two halves, with each team defending one half.

There is a center circle in the middle of the field where the game starts, and there are two penalty areas at each end of the field.

Depending on field availability, some programs will split the fit and play two youth games going from sideline to sideline.

Basic Soccer Rules for Beginners

Although it is not necessary to master all aspects of soccer (yet), you should understand the basics.

It’s also the parents’ and coaches’ responsibility to help teach about the fundamental rules and guidelines that players should adhere to. 

No Hands

This is pretty obvious to those that have been in the game for a while but kids love to pick stuff up.

The only player who can touch the ball is the goalkeeper. The only time a field player can touch the ball is when it goes out of bounds and a throw-in is awarded. Outside of that, players need to play the ball with their feet.

Also, keep in mind that shoulders are legal but anything from the arm down is not. For example, a player can bump shoulders with their opponent to try to win the ball. On the other hand, when a player extends their arm to push an opponent then the referee will blow their whistle and award the other team a free kick. 


You or a teammate can take a throw-in when the ball goes out of bounds by the opponent.

Throw-ins require both hands to hold and throw the ball over their head. Once the ball is on the field, you can play it with your feet. 

Goal Kicks and Corner Kicks

Players are awarded free kicks if the following happens…

Goal Kick: A free kick that is awarded to the defending team when the offensive team touched it last before it crossed the end line. 

Corner Kick: When the ball goes over the end line and is last touched by the defending team. Corner kicks are considered “direct kicks” and can be scored with or without another player touching it first. 

Learn about the differences between a direct and indirect free kick.


A referee monitors the entire game and ensures all players play safely. A player’s responsibility is to simply play the game of soccer and avoid pushing, kicking, jumping, tripping, striking, or holding an opponent. 

Otherwise, you will commit a foul, and as a result, the referee will award the opposing team a free direct kick. If the foul occurs within the penalty box, the referee may show present a yellow card (this rarely happens at the youth level but we’ve seen it happen once or twice) and award the offensive team a penalty kick

Soccer Positions for Beginners

Soccer positions depend on various factors, such as the players’ age group and competition level. For example, young players should try almost every role and learn about each position. This allows the youth player to taste certain positions and choose one that best fits their skills. 

Soccer Positions

A goalkeeper’s job is to block the shots from the offensive team and defend the goal. Likewise, defenders protect the ball from reaching the goal box. 

Defenders, unlike goalies, perform on the field, not in the goal box. However, they can defend the goal during corner kicks from the offensive team. 

Midfielders get the ball from one side of the field to the other and form a link between the forwards and defenders. 

Forwards are crucial players on a youth soccer team who play aggressively and tactically to create goal-scoring opportunities. 

Frequently Asked Questions

At what age should I start playing soccer?

Any age! Soccer is such an easy sport to start learning. Whether your child is 3 or 13, if they show interest in it, they should start learning how to dribble, pass and shoot.

Should my child play soccer or another sport?

You’ll need to figure out which season the other sports are in. For example, a child can play soccer and basketball because they are in different seasons. Soccer is primarily a fall sport so sports like football, flag football, and cross-country could conflict.

What’s the most important thing when starting out?

Having a growth mindset. Soccer is a sport that players can get better over time but it won’t happen overnight. Understand that it will take practice to get better. From here, work on your foot skills first then passing and shooting.

Beau Bridges - Soccer Novo Hey 👋 I’m Beau. A proud Dad, former coach and soccer enthusiast. I continue to love the game of soccer today the same way I did when I was 7. I created soccernovo.com to share what I know about the game as well as provide a platform so other parents can learn more about youth soccer in the U.S.

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