Soccer is a fast-moving, action-packed sport. It is one of the most popular sports in the world
today. Soccer, which is technically known as “association football,” was in fact the forerunner
of modern football. Soccer was the only football-type game in the United States until American-style
football became popular in the 1870s. Today, soccer is included in the physical education programs
of many schools. In addition, many elementary and high school students play it in organized
after-school programs. Soccer demands physically fit players since the game includes running as
much as three or four miles per match. The player’s arms, legs, heart and lungs all get a good
workout during the average soccer game.
HISTORY OF SOCCER
In 400 B. C., the Chinese played a version of soccer, using a ball stuffed with hair. The Romans
also played a version of soccer called “harpastan.” Julius Caesar reportedly used this game as
training for his armies. Soccer was also played in various forms in England for about four hundred
years before it was finally accepted as a “respectable” game. On May 21, 1904, the Federation
Internationale de Football Association (F. I. F. A.) was founded for the purpose of formulating
rules and regulations to govern the game of soccer. The F. I. F. A. today is responsible for all
international games, as well as the World Cup Tournament, which is held every four years.
HOW SOCCER IS PLAYED
Points are made in soccer by kicking or butting the ball into the goal net. Players are not allowed
to touch or carry the ball. The goalie can use his or her hands only in the penalty area. Soccer
games are comprised of two 45-minute periods with one halftime rest break. When a soccer
player commits a foul, the opposing team gets a free kick. Fouls are given for such things as kicking
an opponent, jumping an opponent, striking or pushing an opponent and handling the ball with the
hands. A soccer playing field is approximately 100 to 120 yards long and 55 to 75 yards wide.
The goal net is 8 feet high and 24 feet wide. A soccer team consists of eleven persons, all of
whom work together to accomplish the team’s goals. Each of the eleven persons has a distinct
job to do, and each of these jobsmust be coordinated with the other ten players’ tasks. The eleven
The goalkeeper stays close to the net, and is the only player who is allowed to use his or her hands.
The two backs are located near the goal area and protect the goalkeeper.
Midfielders (including right, center and left) are in constant motion during the game. These players run
back and forth across the field throughout the game.
Strikers are considered the best all-around players. They must be adept at accurate passing as
well as precision shooting with both feet.
The wingers (right and left outside forwards) are similar to basketball guards. These players must
be able to control the ball in order to score the maximum number of points.
A unique aspect of the game of soccer is that the entire body, except for the arms and hands, is
involved in the game. This is one major reason that soccer requires so much practice, especially
for the beginning player. Even the simplest-looking moves are difficult to master. Experienced
players practice constantly in order to maintain a high level of skill.
Kicking is a critical skill in soccer. The soccer kick does not use a regular kicking motion, which
includes the toe. Instead, a soccer kick is really an instep kick which, properly performed, can send
balls soaring up to 70 miles per hour. Professional observers say that properly-executed kicks
separate the skilled players from the beginners.
The overhead kick is used when a player wants to send the ball in the opposite direction from the
one in which she/he is facing. An overhead kick can be used either on a ball in flight or on a bouncing
ball. Timing and coordination are both extremely important in this move.
“Trapping” the ball means that a player attempts to control a ball by stopping it or changing its
direction. Trapping can be performed with any part of the body except the arms. Once the ball is
trapped, it can be passed to another player or advanced on the field. A player may also attempt to
make a goal with a trapped ball.
This technique is used when the ball is too high to reach with any other body part. Incredible as
it sounds, statistically a high percentage of goals have been head shots! Timing is of critical importance
in head shots. The player must meet the ball rather than allowing the ball to come down to meet
him or her. The power in this shot results from the body being flexed backward as the ball is hit
with the flat part of the forehead.
Passing is the most critical move in soccer. It is an excellent way to advance the ball and requires
highly coordinated teamwork. While passing is somewhat similar to kicking, passing requires
considerable practice to learn the exact amount of power needed to move the ball. The “push pass”
(an insidethe- foot pass) is the most popular pass and can move balls up to 20 feet when properlyexecuted.
Soccer dribbling is not the same move as basketball dribbling. However, both sports use this
technique to move the ball along from one point to another. In soccer, dribbling means touching
or pushing the ball with the inside and outside portions of the foot. The object of dribbling
in soccer is to move the ball approximately 10-12 inches.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING
In soccer, attire that allows for freedom of movement and comfort are the main clothing
requirements. Professional teams usually wear shorts, a jersey top and shin pads for lower leg
protection. Soccer shoes are perhaps the player’s most important piece of equipment. They are
manufactured to conform to specific regulations. Most professional soccer shoes have rubber
studs or rippled rubber soles in order that they can be used on all types of surfaces.
SOCCER NOTES AND NEWS
In 1900, soccer became the first team sport to be added to the Olympic games. According to the
1996 Olympic Factbook (published in association with the Olympic Committee) soccer is the most
popular sport in the world. At the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics, the medal winners were:
To participate in the World Cup is the dream of millions of young soccer players. The World Cup
takes place every four years and is the most important soccer competition in the world. In 1998
France defeated Brazil 3 - 0 for the Men’s World Cup championship. In 1999, playing through
heat, exhaustion and tension, the two best women’s soccerteams on the planet couldn’t shake one
another. Something had to give. And after 120 minutes without a score, including a sudden-death
overtime, something did. Briana Scurry’s fingertips, Kristine Lilly’s head and Brandi Chastain’s foot
made all the difference as the women from the United States defeated China in the World Cup final.
The title was determined by a “shoot out” where the US women managed to find the goal on all five
of their kicks while China scored only four times. In NCAA action, UConn Claimed the 2000 Men’s
College Cup . Chris Gbandi scored a goal in the first half and Darin Lewis sealed the win in the
86th minute to give Connecticut a 2-0 victory over Creighton for the 2000 Men’s College Cup
Championship. SMU will host the men’s soccer title games in 2004. On the women’s side, North
Carolina won its 16th NCAAWomen’s Soccer Division I Championship with a late comeback and
a gift from UCLA to win yet another NCAA women’s soccer title. North Carolina defeated UCLA,
2-1. The Tar Heels have appeared in 18 of the 19 NCAA women’s title games. For the first time
since the NCAA began tracking participation numbers in 1982, soccer is the most popular college
women’s sport. The recent study showed 18,188women in three divisions played soccer.
WHAT TO DO:
The following questions will help you to have a greater appreciation and understanding
of soccer. Write your answers in the spaces below the questions. If there is not enough
room, write on the backs of these sheets. Be neat, spell correctly, and write in complete
1. What are the physical benefits of playing soccer?
2. True or False: Soccer players are allowed to touch and carry the ball in their hands.
3. How long is the average soccer game?
4. Describe an overhead kick in soccer.
5. What does it mean for a player to “trap” the ball?
6. When should the technique of “heading” be used?
7. What actions in a soccer game might result in a foul being called?
8. Describe the makeup of a typical soccer team.
9. Which soccer players on a team are usually considered to be the best all-around players?
10. How do you make a goal in soccer?
Short Answer Questions:
1. Soccer players should not use this part of the body
2. International soccer competition takes place at the ______ cup
3. Most popular type of pass in soccer
4. The player does this to make contact with a ball that is too high to reach with a foot
5. Some consider these to be the best all-around players
6. Pads for leg protection
7. The number of players on a soccer team
8. One should use this part of the body when kicking the ball
9. Moving the ball 10 - 12 inches per bounce and keeping control of it while moving
10. Possible miles-per-hour speed of a kicked soccer ball11. Roman name for soccer
12. The players in this position are similar to guards in basketball
13. Acronym for the US Pro soccer organization
14. This is a player who can use his or her hands and stays near the net
15. Precision kicking - the most critical move in soccer
16. They often have cleats and some consider them to be the most important soccer equipment
17. Controlling the ball by stopping or changing its direction
18. They are in constant motion during the game
19. Type of kick that sends the ball in the opposite direction
20. These players help protect the goalkeeper