Month: June 2018

Learning the Rules in Soccer

Learning the rules in soccer isn’t hard at all.  The Laws of the Game that govern the sport all over the world have largely been in place since the 1860’s.  While the intricacies of the game are complex, you can pick up the basics of the game in a couple of minutes.  It is important to note that internationally soccer really doesn’t have rules rather the sport has laws.  It is a bit pretentious but the Laws are only a couple of pages and you can grab them from and read them for free.

Learning the Rules in Soccer

The Mechanics of the Game

The first bunch of laws are about the mechanics of the game.  These layout the dimensions of the field, the size of the ball, how many players are permitted to play on each side, the gear players can wear.  The dimensions will vary depending on where you play and of course for youth soccer leagues a smaller field is used.  The ball must be between 27-28 inches in circumference.  You can have 11 players per team.  You can wear jersey’s, shorts, socks, cleats and shin pads  which are mandatory.

The Officials

The next few laws outline the responsibilities of the officials. These also outline how the game will begin, what happens when there is an infraction, when a goal is scored and if the ball goes out of play.  These are pretty much uniform all over the world regardless of league.

The Offside Rule

The offside rule is probably the most complicated rule to understand and it is highly contentious, so let’s try and simplify it.  If you stand near the opposing team’s goal with less than two members of the opposing team between you and goalline and the ball is played to you then you are offside.  This rule is hated by fans and players alike because if an offensive player is alone and kicked the ball he could be flagged offside.  However running in the with ball and facing the goalie is just fine.  Here is the offside rule explained.


The last set of laws explain stoppage of the game because of fouls and what can happen.  Will there be a free kick, or a penalty kick?  These laws also talk about throwins, corner kicks and goal kicks.

You can read all of the Laws of the Game and understand the rules of the game pretty quickly.  It’s simplicity is one of the reasons for its popularity.

Learning Sportsmanship in Youth Sports

When kids are first enrolled in sports they are taught the rules of the game but often overlooked is the idea of sportsmanship.  Sportsmanship is more than adhering to the rules of the game it helps develop character in your players.  For years there have been studies done on the unhealthy behavior that you see in youth sports, this behavior has led to rule changes at athletic events.  Let’s look at what makes good sportsmanship in young athletes and how they should be coached.

Learning Sportsmanship in Youth Sports

Good Sportsmanship

Players should have a natural love of the game, sports develops camaraderie and a deep appreciation for hard work and the skill the game requires.  They should be taught to value effort and that effort should be put towards the pursuit of excellence in your chosen sport.  Your opponent is not your enemy and you should respect their ability to play.  The officials are not there to make life miserable in fact if you listen to  what they say you can dramatically improve your game.

Rules are there to be adhered to but it should set the minimum expectation as far as fairness goes.  Rules are meant to be followed all the time and not just when the officials are looking at the play.  How you play the game matters as much as who wins.   Look for the lessons in losses and be both a gracious winner or loser.  Yes, you should take a competition seriously but still enjoy the game.

Poor Conduct at a Game

There are plenty of examples of poor conduct at a sports game by players, coaches and parents alike.  Nobody likes losing but it is a game and not a war the opposing team is nor your enemy, and they do deserve your respect.  There can be friendly banter at games but trash talking, gloating and taking cheap shots at the opposing team do no one any good.  Youth in particular need to learn that there is something to be learned in losing and you don’t blame someone else for your losses.

Youth should be taught good sportsmanship and that is why there is the custom of shaking hands at the end of a game.  Standards of play and rules should not be taken for granted and demonstrations of sportsmanship should be genuine rather than just going through a ritual.  This lesson needs to come from the top, parents as well as coaches should help instill the lessons and set good examples during game play.