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 players arms, legs, heart and lungs all get a good

workout during the average soccer game.


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 respectablegame. 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.


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 teams goals. Each of the eleven persons has a distinct

job to do, and each of these jobsmust be coordinated with the other ten playerstasks. The eleven

players include:

a goalkeeper

two backs

three midfielders

three strikers

two wingers

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.


Trappingthe 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.


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 players 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.


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 Mens World Cup championship. In 1999, playing through

heat, exhaustion and tension, the two best womens soccerteams on the planet couldnt shake one

 another. Something had to give. And after 120 minutes without a score, including a sudden-death

overtime, something did. Briana Scurrys fingertips, Kristine Lillys head and Brandi Chastains 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 outwhere 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 Mens

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 Mens College Cup

Championship. SMU will host the mens soccer title games in 2004. On the womens side, North

Carolina won its 16th NCAAWomens Soccer Division I Championship with a late comeback and

a gift from UCLA to win yet another NCAA womens soccer title. North Carolina defeated UCLA,

2-1. The Tar Heels have appeared in 18 of the 19 NCAA womens title games. For the first time

since the NCAA began tracking participation numbers in 1982, soccer is the most popular college

womens sport. The recent study showed 18,188women in three divisions played soccer.


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 trapthe 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