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Sports / Outdoor Physical Games Category: Soccer

Hobby / Travel:

How to play soccer.


Goooooaaall! Soccer (a.k.a. association football) is a fun, world-renowned sport to play at your outdoor barbecue event. Regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or cultural background, soccer is a unifying international sport with no language barrier, popular in almost every country around the globe. This is most evident by the World Cup, which is a 5-week tournament that takes place once every four years and involves 32 teams from different countries representing each of the seven continents of the world. This world championship event, watched by millions, is organized and overseen by FIFA, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (International Federation of Association Football). At the World Cup, each team’s country takes great pride as their team vies for the crown of world champion.

Soccer (a.k.a. football) is also a recognized sport in the Summer Olympics, which takes place once every four years. In addition to football, the Summer Olympic Games have included as many as 32 kinds of sports representing teams from different countries all around the world.

In the U.S., soccer is becoming increasingly popular. Household names of elite soccer players include Mia Hamm - women’s soccer star who was a valuable member of the U.S. team (as a forward) and, among other championship games, participated in the Women’s World Cup and the Summer Olympic Games; and England’s David Beckham - a talented midfielder who, among other championship games, participated in the World Cup, and in 2007, signed on to be the captain and midfielder of the U.S. team, the Los Angles (L.A.) Galaxy.

The game of soccer requires a lot of running, so you and your guests are sure to get a great workout! Here are the basic rules of a backyard version of the game:

How to Play Soccer:

  1. Set up a makeshift soccer field in your backyard by placing goalposts with netting on each end of a rectangular playing field to designate the goal areas.

  1. Assemble two teams, each consisting of eleven (11) players.

  1. Assign each player of both teams a position on the field (four (4) midfielders, four (4) defenders, two (2) forwards, and one (1) goalkeeper on each team).

  1. Determine the length of the game (i.e. 45-minute halves with a 15-minute break in between; 30-minute halves with a 10-minute break in between; 45 minutes total with no break, etc.).

  1. To start a soccer match, the two teams flip a coin. The winning team of the coin toss has one of two options: the team can (1) decide whether to kickoff first or (2) choose which side of the field they want to defend. (Note: Repeat step 5 to start the second half).

  1. Set the soccer ball on the ground in the middle of the field and start the clock at the kickoff.

  1. Players attempt to score by getting the ball past the opposing goal line without touching the ball with their hands or arms. Thus, players may use their feet, knees, torso, head, etc., to maneuver the ball.

On the other hand, the goalkeepers on each end of the playing field may use any part of their body, including their hands and arms, to block the ball from entering the goal area.

  1. If a player commits a foul, a free kick (direct or indirect) is awarded to the opposition. A direct free kick results from a foul that occurs if a player (1) uses his/her hands or arms to maneuver the ball or (2) holds, trips, kicks, etc., an opponent. A direct free kick entails that each player of the opposing team must stand 10 yards away from the ball before the kick is made. (Note: A distance of 10 yards is in proportion to the size of a typical soccer field that is 50-100 yards by 100-130 yards). Furthermore, a goal can be scored by a direct free kick; in other words, no other player need touch the ball after the free kick has been made for a goal to count. 

An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits a foul that includes (1) preventing the goalkeeper from throwing the ball back into play or (2) hindering an opposing player. A team is also awarded an indirect free kick if the opposing  goalkeeper (1) takes more than four (4) steps while throwing the ball back into play; (2) touches the ball with his/her hands after his/her teammates have the ball in play; or (3) takes more than six (6) seconds to release the ball.  Unlike a direct free kick, a goal cannot be made by an indirect free kick; that is, after a player makes an indirect free kick, at least one other player (either a teammate or an opponent) must come into contact without the ball before a goal is   scored; otherwise, a goal made by an indirect free kick does not count.  Furthermore, like a direct free kick, an indirect free kick demands that players of the opposing team must stand 10 yards from the ball prior to the kick. (Again,  note that a distance of 10 yards is in proportion to the size of a typical soccer field).)

If a foul occurs in the penalty area - (which is a small area located directly in front of each goal, with dimensions of 18 yards by 44 yards with respect to a typical soccer field) - the opposing team is allowed a penalty-kick. Note: A penalty-kick involves a free kick from the penalty spot, which is located 12 yards from the goal area - (a distance of 12 yards is in proportion to the size of a typical soccer field) - while the goalkeeper is allowed to attempt to block the kick.   Meanwhile, all players on the field must stand a minimum of 10 yards away from the player making the free kick. (Again, a distance of 10 yards is in proportion to the size of a typical soccer field).

Note: A player that commits a foul is warned by the person monitoring the game (a.k.a. referee) by displaying a yellow card. If the player commits another foul, he/she will receive another yellow card. Two yellow cards, and the player is ejected from the game. If the player commits a serious, egregious foul, he/she is shown a red card by the referee, and is immediately ejected from the game.

  1. If a player kicks the ball out of bounds, a player from the opposing team is allowed to throw the ball back into play from the spot behind the sidelines where the ball was kicked out of bounds. The player must throw the ball over his/her head using both hands.

  1. If a defending team kicks the ball over their own goal line, the opposing team is awarded a corner kick from the right or left corner of the field, depending on which side the ball went out of bounds. The defending team must stand a minimum of 10 yards away from the player making the corner kick. (Again, a distance of 10 yards is in proportion to the size of a typical soccer field).

  1. The winner is the team that scores the most goals within the set time period. If there is a tie, there are two options: (1) extra time may be allotted or (2) a penalty-kick may be allowed. In the case of a penalty-kick serving as the tiebreaker, five (5) players from each team are selected to kick the ball, one at a time, from the penalty spot. If the penalty-kicks result in a tie, then the five (5) players from each team alternate turns in making a penalty-kick, and whichever team’s player is the first to successfully make a goal, they are declared the winning team.

Helpful Tips: No matter what sport or physical activity you and/or your guests decide to participate in, this section provides useful information and tips for optimal performance and enjoyment:

  • Stay Hydrated! If you and/or your guests engage in outdoor physical activities, especially during hot weather, remember to drink plenty of fluids! Drinking simple,


    pure water is a great option to replenish your fluids during and after exercising. Most tap water is excellent. However, if you are still concerned about lead content and other potentially harmful particles in your tap water, using a water filter or purifier is one way to go. A water filtration system (i.e. Brita, Culligan or Pur) can keep vital minerals in the water like fluoride, while filtering out any contaminants or pollutants that may be in your tap water.


While exercising, perspiration allows your body to cool off as the sweat evaporates from your skin (a natural cooling mechanism), but in the process of this thermoregulation you loose electrolytes in addition to H2O. Therefore, if you’ve been especially sweating a lot, you need to replenish your lost electrolytes.  In this case, sports drinks - fortified with electrolytes - (i.e. Gatorade, Powerade, All Sport, Recharge, Extreme Ripped Force and Champion Nutrition Revenge Sport) are good choices.

There are also other energy drinks available on the market, such as vitamin-fortified water (i.e. Glacéau (a.k.a. Glaceau) Vitamin Water, Glacéau Smart Water, Glacéau Fruit Water, Glacéau Vitamin Energy, Propel Fitness Water and SoBe Life Water).

  • Play it safe! Wear the appropriate safety gear for each sport or activity you engage in. Also, make certain that you have all the necessary equipment for the sport or activity. Visit your local sporting goods store for assistance.

  • Stretch and warm-up! It’s important to stretch and warm-up before participating in any physical activity or sport. Stretching has many benefits: It allows your muscles and joints to relax, it improves your range of motion and it may prevent injuries. Before starting any sport or physical activity, consult your physician and get a physical exam. 

  • Keep an over-the-counter pain reliever handy! Don’t let minor aches and pains slow you down or prevent you from participating in a sport or physical activity you enjoy at your outdoor barbecue event. Over-the-counter pain medication (i.e. Tylenol (Acetaminophen), Motrin (Ibuprofen), Advil (Ibuprofen), Anacin (Aspirin), Bayer (Aspirin), Aleve (Naproxen), etc.) work great at relieving minor muscle and joint pain. Note: Always consult your physician before taking any medication, and use as directed.

  • Should any emergencies arise, keep a cell phone handy, or even a walkie-talkie! A walkie-talkie is a two-way radio transceiver, which is convenient, portable and handheld. It allows you to communicate with another person that is located at a reasonably close distance to you (i.e. if you are in the backyard, you can easily communicate with someone that is inside the house if you are both using walkie-talkies). It’s a great way to keep in touch!

  • Keep a first-aid kit handy! Accidents happen, so, for minor scrapes, cuts, etc., readily have available bandages; gauze; adhesive tape; sterile swabs; antiseptic (i.e. hydrogen peroxide topical solution, antibiotic ointment (i.e. Neosporin), alcohol pads, etc.); tweezers; anti-itch ointment (i.e. hydrocortisone); etc. Seek medical attention if necessary.

  • Prevent sunburn! Protect your skin from the sun’s potentially harmful rays, which may cause premature aging (i.e. wrinkles) and skin cancer. So, don’t forget to wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and one that offers broad spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. If participating in outdoor sports or activities, consider wearing a sunscreen that is waterproof.

  • Avoid pesky bug bites! Keep a bottle of bug spray handy. If you do get bit, use anti-itch ointment (i.e. hydrocortisone) to help relieve the sting of the bite.

  • Keep allergies at bay, and enjoy your time outdoors! If you suffer from allergies, have readily available an over-the-counter allergy medicine - (i.e. Claritin (Loratadine); Benadryl (Diphenhydramine); Sudafed PE (Phenylephrine); Zyrtec (Cetirizine HCl); Zyrtec-D (Cetirizine/Pseudoephedrine); etc.) - to relieve allergy symptoms, such as red, itchy, watery eyes; nasal congestion; sneezing, etc., due to the increased levels of pollen, dust, mold, etc., in the air. Note: Always consult your physician before taking any medication, and use as directed.

  • Set Realistic Goals! Don’t overexert yourself, especially at an outdoor get-together where the idea is to relax and have a good time. Remember, as with most things in life, practice makes perfect! So, if you’re really interested in a particular sport or activity, practice it often, and you’ll be sure to impress your friends and family at your next outdoor event.

  • Most of all...Have Fun! Whether you’re a competitive athlete or an amateur, playing sports and exercising should be about enjoying yourself, spending time with friends and family, getting in touch with the great outdoors, teamwork, the spirit of the game, stress-relief, and good health!

Ed the Handyman


Your Handyman Zone Team


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