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Basic Soccer Terms


-- a free kick taken by an attacking player whenever a defender last touches the ball before it completely crosses the goal line.


-- an action on the field ruled by the referee that will likely cause an injury; will at minimum draw a yellow card but could draw a red card for the offending player.


-- awarded as the result of a personal foul, such as kicking, tripping, holding or pushing; the kick is taken from the point of the infraction and the designated player taking the kick may score directly without another player having to touch the ball.


-- the manner in which points are scored in soccer; to score, the ball must completely cross over the goal line and into the goal; a goal counts as one point (the exception to this applies in certain indoor soccer leagues).


-- standing in the center of the goal lines; each goal consists of two wooden posts, 24 feet apart, and a crossbar, 8 feet above the ground.


-- defends the goal; the only player who can handle the ball within the penalty area with his hands.


-- a free kick taken either by the goalkeeper or member of the defending team after the attacking team puts the ball over the goal line.


-- lines which runs from corner flag to corner flag across each end of the field of play and which the goal is situated; represents the end of the playing area at the far end of each side of the field.


-- one of two periods in a match.


-- infraction called when a player other than a goalkeeper intentionally plays a ball with his hand; if a defender handles within the penalty area, a penalty shot is awarded; if the goalkeeper handles the ball outside the penalty area, a direct free kick is awarded.


-- awarded for less serious infractions to the team fouled; for a goal to be scored on an indirect free kick, a player other than the kicker must touch the ball before it can be scored; the kick is awarded from the point of infraction.


-- two officials who are stationed outside of the touchline to indicate when a ball is out of play or a player who is offside.


-- an infraction which occurs when an attacker sends a pass to a teammate without two defenders, which can include a goalkeeper, between the teammate and the goal.


– The area in front of each goal in which the goalkeeper can use his/her hands.


-- awarded for any personal fouls or for intentionally handling of the ball by a defending player within the penalty area; a penalty shot is taken from the designated spot, 12 yards from the goal line in the center of the penalty area, with only the goalkeeper defending the shot.


-- the card shown to a player being ejected from a match by the referee; players ejected cannot be substituted for, and often a red card offense carries a penalty of additional matches missed.


-- the only on-field official charged with enforcing the rules of the game; acts as timekeeper as well; has the authority to expel a player from a game for repeated fouling or misconduct behavior. Makes calls based "in the spirit" of the game


-- the goalkeeper stopping a scoring opportunity by either catching the ball or knocking it away from the goal.


-- the method of restarting play when the ball has crossed the touchlines; a throw-in is awarded to the opposing side of the team which knocked the ball out of play. 2 feet must remain on the ground with both hands throwing ball behind head evenly.


-- the boundary lines running the full length of the field on each side of the playing area.


-- a caution card showed to a player by the referee after a dangerous play foul; a second yellow card in the same match earns the offending player a red card and automatic ejection; some leagues and tournaments have rules regarding the receipt of yellow cards in successive matches, which often result in a one-game ban.

*Reprinted from the University of Texas