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Basic Rules of Soccer

Boy kicking soccer ball

You’ll want your child to do his or her best to follow these six fundamental guidelines.

No hands

Unless you’re the goalie or are attempting a throw-in, you’re not allowed to use your hands in play. In soccer, hands refer to anything from your fingers to your shoulders.


When the ball crosses the sideline and goes out of bounds, a throw-in is taken by a member of the team who didn’t kick it out. The player will plant both feet on the ground, using both hands to throw the ball straight overhead and back into play.

Goal and corner kicks 

These are taken when the ball is kicked out of bounds behind the goal line. If the offensive team kicks it out, the defensive team takes a goal kick from inside the goal box. If the defensive team kicks it out, the offensive team takes a corner kick from the corner nearest to where the ball left the field.

Direct and indirect kicks

Every kick is considered an indirect kick unless it comes from a foul or hand ball. You can score on a direct kick by kicking the ball directly into the goal, whereas on an indirect kick the ball must be touched by another player before you can score. 

Game in play

So long as the ball is on the field inside of bounds, the game is considered in play. The only exception to this rule is if the referee calls for an infraction or offside (offside is applicable to ages 11 and older only).


It’s the referee’s or coach’s responsibility to monitor safe play and fouls, but, in general, the intent is to go for the ball, not the player. You can’t kick, trip, jump at, charge, strike, push, or hold an opponent. If a foul does occur, the team who was fouled gets a free, direct kick at the location of the foul. 

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