Kick-off Rules in Soccer

Kick-off Rules in Soccer

The kick-off in soccer is used to start each half of a match.

The referee will officially start the game clock once the offensive team kicks the ball and sets the match in motion.

Some people think that the kick-off is merely a ceremonial part of the game mainly because nothing much happens. However, the kick-off can be considered the most important part of soccer since there’s no game without the official kick-off.

Some important aspects go into the initial kick-off and we will be going through them, including the rules surrounding it.

When Does the Kick-off Happen?

There are only several scenarios during a soccer match that a kick-off can happen:

  1. At the beginning of the match to start the play: The team that wins the coin toss will be the one to choose if they want to kick off at the start or second half of the game.
  2. To start the second half of the match: At the start of the second half, the team that didn’t kick off will get the ball in the second half.
  3. To restart play after each goal is scored: After every goal, the team who did not score the previous goal will start with a kick-off. This is repeated however many times the teams score a goal.
  4. If the game goes into overtime due to a draw: If the match is tied after regulation and there needs to be a clear winner (i.e. – in a tournament or playoffs), the game could go into overtime. To start overtime, a team will kick off.

How Does the Kick-off Start?

Before each match starts, the head referee calls both captains of the opposing teams. The referee will then toss a coin with one of the players calling heads or tails.

The team who calls the coin toss correctly will be awarded the choice to kick or receive first. The other team gets to pick which side of the field they’d like to defend.

Before the start of the kick-off, all the players, except for the ones passing it, must be on their own half of the pitch.

The referee will place the ball on the center marker of the pitch.

The defensive players must be at least 10 yards away from the ball before the kick-off. This distance is designated by the circular mark painted on the center of the pitch.

Once the referee blows his whistle, the offense can proceed to kick the ball to start the game timer.

To start the second half, the teams switch sides of the field and they alternate kick-offs.

Is it Legal to Score Off the Kick-off?

Although it’s close to impossible, there are no rules in place that forbids a player from scoring a goal right off the kick-off.

The distance from the center mark to the goal line is usually more than 50 yards, so kicking a goal from this distance will be unlikely, but stranger things have happened!

Now, if for some unforeseen and supernatural reason, the kick goes the other way and into the offense’s goal, the goal will not count. Instead, the opposing team will be permitted a corner kick.


The anticipation of the start of a soccer match can get intense.

There’s something magical about the ball being at the center line, the referee blowing their whistle and the kick-off happening.

At this point, the game begins its 90-minute (or shorter) high-energy match.

The kick-off rules in soccer are simple so it’s best to obey them to a T. Also, as a coach, you may implement a kick-off strategy to catch an opposing team off guard!

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 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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