What is an Assist in Soccer?

What is an Assist in Soccer?

Last updated on July 26th, 2023 at 02:02 pm

What is an assist in soccer? An assist is a pass that leads directly to a goal.

It’s an important soccer statistic that helps measure a player’s contribution to their team’s success.

Assists can come in many forms, including through passes, crosses, and even rebounds. The key factor is that the pass must have a direct impact on the goal being scored.

If a player passes the ball to another player who then dribbles past several defenders before scoring, the original passer will not receive an assist.

However, if the pass leads directly to the goal, even if it’s deflected or redirected by another player, the passer will receive an assist.

Let’s explain what an assist in soccer is a little further…

Definition of Assist in Soccer

As I mentioned above, assists are the passes that lead to a goal. The pass can be intentional or unintentional, and it can be made with any part of the body except for the hands or arms. The final pass before the goal is scored is the one that counts as an assist.

They can be a reflection of the impact of a player.

In this section, we will go over the types of assists and the rules for awarding assists.

Types of Soccer Assists

There are several types of assists in soccer.

The most common type is the through ball, which is a pass that goes between two defenders and sets up a one-on-one situation for the attacking player.

Another type of assist is the cross, which is a pass from the side of the field that goes into the box and sets up a scoring opportunity.

A corner kick can also result in an assist if the ball is headed into the goal by a teammate.

Rules for Assists in Soccer

The rules for awarding assists can vary depending on the league and the competition.

In general, an assist is awarded to the player who makes the final pass before the goal is scored. The pass must be deemed to have contributed directly to the goal.

If the pass is deflected by an opposing player before it reaches the scorer, it may not be counted as an assist. This is a very grey area.

It is also important to note that some leagues have stricter rules for awarding assists. For example, in the English Premier League, their definition of an assist is as follows…

“An assist can be awarded for a pass or cross, even if an opponent gets a touch before the goal is scored. However, that touch must not significantly alter the intended destination of the ball.

That “intended destination” can often be a team-mate if he is a clear target. But it may also be an area of the pitch.

This is often the case with headed passes, long punts or clearances and crosses from set-pieces.” 

Understanding the basic definition of assists, the types of assists, and the rules for awarding assists can help you appreciate this aspect of the game even more.

What is Second Assists in Soccer?

A second assist is a pass that leads to the assist. In other words, it’s the pass that sets up the pass that leads to the goal.

For example, if you pass the ball to your teammate, and your teammate then passes the ball to another player who then scores a goal, then it means that you have made a second assist or a secondary assist.

While not all professional leagues and competitions officially recognize second assists, they are still important in analyzing a team’s performance. Second assists are a measure of a player’s ability to create scoring opportunities for their teammates and contribute to the build-up play.

In youth soccer, as far as I know, second assists aren’t tracked. In fact, most leagues do not track assists. Some leagues will keep tabs on individual goals only.

Soccer Assist Statistics

Assists can provide valuable insights into a player’s performance. Here are some key points to keep in mind when analyzing assist statistics:

Importance of Assists in Soccer Statistics

soccer passing

Assists are often used as a measure of a player’s creativity and ability to create scoring opportunities for their team.

A high number of assists can indicate that a player is an effective playmaker, and is able to read the game well and make accurate passes.

Assists can also be a useful metric for evaluating the effectiveness of a team’s attacking play. By tracking the number of assists that a team generates, coaches can gain a better understanding of the team’s overall attacking strategy and identify areas for improvement.

Limitations of Assist Statistics

While assists can be a useful metric for evaluating a player’s performance, they do have some limitations. For example:

  • Assists do not account for missed chances: A player may make a great pass that sets up a scoring opportunity, but if the teammate fails to convert the chance, no assist is recorded. Teams with elite strikers will typically fill up the stat line and there’s an assist to be awarded to support their goal.
  • Assists do not account for individual effort: A player may create a scoring opportunity through individual skill and effort, but if no pass is made, no assist is recorded.
  • Assists do not account for defensive contributions: A player may make a key defensive play that leads to a counter-attack and eventual goal, but if no pass is made, no assist is recorded.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that an assist is just a small part of the game. There are many intangible factors that can be a good reflection of how effective a player is. These intangibles aren’t tracked on a score sheet but parents and fans will take notice.

Assist Techniques in Soccer

What is an Assist in Soccer

If you want to become a skilled offensive soccer player, you need to learn how to set players up. Assists are crucial in helping your team score goals, and there are various techniques you can use to make effective assists. Here are some of the most common assist techniques:

Soccer Passing Techniques

By passing the ball to a teammate, you can set them up for a shot on goal. To make an effective pass, you need to consider the distance between you and your teammate, the speed of the ball, and the angle of the pass. Some passing techniques you can use include:

  • Short passes: These are quick passes that are used to keep possession of the ball and move it up the field.
  • Through passes: These passes are made between defenders to set up a teammate for a shot on goal.
  • Lob passes: These are high, arcing passes that are used to get the ball over defenders and into the path of a teammate.

For more, check out ‘How to Pass a Soccer Ball: Tips For Success‘.

Soccer Crossing Techniques

Crosses are made from the sides of the field and are used to set up a teammate for a shot on goal. In many cases, a winger will cross the ball into the box for the striker to chase down.

Some crossing techniques you can use include:

  • Low crosses: These are crosses that are made along the ground and are used to get the ball to a teammate who is close to the goal.
  • High crosses: These are crosses that are made in the air and are used to get the ball to a teammate who is further away from the goal.
  • Cutback crosses: These are crosses that are made back toward the middle of the field and are used to set up a teammate who is running toward the goal.

Soccer Dribbling Techniques

While dribbling is not typically used to make assists, it can be an effective way to set up a shot on goal. The combo of technical dribbling and smart passing can help soccer players stand out.

Some dribbling techniques you can use include:

  • The stepover: This is a move where you step over the ball with one foot and then quickly move in the opposite direction with the other foot.
  • The cutback: This is a move where you quickly change direction by cutting the ball back behind your body.
  • The fake shot: This is a move where you pretend to take a shot on goal to get the defender to move, and then quickly change direction and move past them.

Here are 6 Dribbling Moves to Get By a Defender.

Assist Strategies in Soccer

Team Strategies for Creating Assists

To create more opportunities for assists, your team needs to work together. Here are some team strategies you can use:

  • Play with width: By spreading out the field, you can create more space for your teammates to move into. This makes it easier to pass the ball and create scoring chances.
  • Make runs: By making runs into space, you can create opportunities for your teammates to pass you the ball. This can lead to more assists and more goals.
  • Use set pieces: Set pieces like corners and free kicks can be great opportunities to create scoring chances. Work with your team to come up with set piece routines that can lead to assists and goals.

Individual Strategies for Creating Assists

As an individual player, there are also things you can do to create more assists. Here are some individual strategies you can use:

  • Look for passes: Always be looking for opportunities to pass the ball to your teammates. Even if you don’t score, you can still contribute to the team by creating scoring chances.
  • Be creative: Don’t be afraid to try new things. Sometimes the best assists come from unexpected passes or moves.
  • Develop your technique: The better your passing and dribbling skills, the more opportunities you will have to create assists. Practice your technique regularly to improve your skills.

By using these assist strategies, you can become a valuable member of your team and help lead them to victory.


I hope that helps you understand what an assist is in soccer! The definition is simple but the execution can be challenging.

Players who can set other players up for more scoring opportunities will always have a place on a team. Every youth soccer team needs a playmaker that can distribute the ball effectively.

I’ve seen strikers go from good to great because they are surrounded by better passers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an assist in soccer?

An assist in soccer is a statistic credited to a player who helps set up a goal scored by another player.

What qualifies as an assist?

An assist can be awarded to a player who passes the ball to the scorer, creates a chance with a dribble or a cross, or wins a free kick or a corner kick that leads to the goal. The pass must be intentional, in the same phase of the play, and made to a teammate.

Is it an assist if the player takes a touch?

Yes, it is possible for a player to be credited with an assist even if they take a touch before the scorer scores the goal. As long as the touch is significant and played a direct role in setting up the goal, it can be considered an assist.

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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