s only been popular in North America for the past 30 years, soccer has been a long time favorite most everywhere else. It is the national sport of most European and Latin-American countries, and of many other nations. Millions of people in more than 140 countries play soccer. The sport dates back to the Egyptians, who played games involving the kicking of a ball. Now, the sport has grown to a global pastime, including men’s and women’s teams, and the World Cup (which is played every four years).
History and Origins
Games similar to soccer were played in China as early as 400 BC. In about 200 AD the Romans played a game in which two teams tried to score by advancing a ball across a line on the field. The Romans passed the ball to one another but they never kicked it. London children in about 1100 played a form of soccer in the streets. During the 1800’s the people of England played a game similar to soccer. Many rules changed and each person interpreted the rules differently.
The modern version came about in the early nineteenth century, in England. It started as a game involving kicking and handing, but later this branched off into two separate sports: rugby and football (which is what the English call soccer). In 1848 a group of school representatives met at Trinity College in Cambridge and drew up the first of soccer rules. In 1863 English soccer clubs founded the Football Association. By the late 1800’s soccer began to spread to the rest of the world. The Canadian Soccer Association was established in 1912 while the United States Soccer Federation was set up in 1913. The first World Cup Championship was in Montevideo, Uruguay. Since then it has been played every four years except during WWII. The North American Soccer League (NASL) was formed in 1968 and the sport began to gain popularity in the 1970’s.
Modern Game and Rules
The modern game of soccer has a simple goal: kick or head the ball in to the goal of your opponent’s team. Basically, there is also one simple rule: No one except the goalkeeper may use they’re hands to play the ball. Soccer is a simplistic sport. Eleven members of each team defend their side of the field to prevent the ball from being forced into their goal, which results in a point scored by the team kicking the ball. There are only three officials involved during play: The referee, and two linesmen.
The equipment used in soccer is also very simple. In addition to the field itself, all that is needed for a game is two goals (eight feet high and eight yards apart) and a ball. Each player wears hard plastic or padded shin guard, covered by long socks, for protection during play. Cleats are also worn for traction on the field. A goalie may also wear a special padded shirt, and gloves to protect his or her hands. A standard field, as regulated by the Federation International de Football Association (or FIFA), has a length between 100 and 130 yards, and a width of between 50 and 100 yards.
The rules of play for soccer have deliberately been kept simple (see rules as appendix). The referee makes most of the decisions, and attempts to encourage fair play. A soccer game begins with a kickoff in the center of the field. A coin is flipped to decide which team will kickoff. The other team kicks off at the start of the second half when the teams switch sides or nets. After a team scores the other team gets to kickoff to begin again. The kickoff takes place in the middle of the field. When the ball is kicked it must travel the circumference of the ball and touch another player before the kicker can touch the ball again.
After the ball is in play it remains in play unless it crosses a goal line or a touchline. All players attempt to stop the ball from coming in their zone while at the same time trying to score a goal. A player may kick the ball into the net with any part of the body except the hands and arms. If the ball goes out of bounds the play is restarted with a corner kick, a goal kick, or a throw-in. The referee decides what type to use. If the ball crosses the goal line and the defensive team touched it last then there is a corner kick by the offense. If the offense touches the ball last and crosses the goal line then it is a goal kick. A throw in happens when the ball crosses the touchline. When it crosses the touchline the team that did not touch it last throws the ball in bounds. The ball is thrown over their head with two hands. Fouls are called when a player does not obey the rules and acts un-sportsman like. When a foul is called the opposite team receives either a penalty kick, a direct free kick or and indirect free kick.
If the ball is kicked off the field over the length of the field, the other team is given a throw-in, where the ball is thrown over the player’s head, and back onto the field. If the ball is kicked over the goal, or across the width of the field, either a corner kick results (by the offensive team, where the ball is placed on the corner of the field and kicked into play) or the defensive team is awarded a goal kick, where the ball is placed on the corner of the goal box, and kicked back into play. If a goal is scored, the ball is taken back to the center of the field, and the team scored against kicks off.
Other penalties include direct and indirect free kicks, and penalty kicks. For offenses such as shoving and tripping, either a direct free kick (offenses not in the goal box) or a penalty kick (inside the goal box) is awarded. Both allow goals to be made directly from the kicks. If a minor offense is being punished, then an indirect free kick is given, form which a goal cannot be scored.
Most soccer games have 45-minute halves, and the clocks is not stopped except for injuries or deliberate time wasting. In professional soccer, only three to five substitutions are allowed per half. Generally, more are allowed in lower leagues.
There are many exercises that people can do to improve in soccer. Exercises that strengthen your legs and improve flexibility are ideal. Physical conditioning is important if you plan on being good at soccer. Here are five exercises that are ideal for soccer:
Running: running helps to improve cardiovascular fitness. In soccer there is lots of running for the ball so endurance and a speed is a must.
Leg Stretches: using weights can help strengthen the legs. Using weights makes you kick harder and makes the ball travel farther, as a result you become a better player.
Leg Machines: exercising all muscles in the leg makes you kick harder and prevents injury when you are diving all over for the ball. The strong muscles help prevent injuries.
Stretching: stretching allows you to be more flexible. Sometimes soccer players need to kick the ball in the most awkward positions. Flexibly helps the player to kick the ball in those positions more effectively.
Weight Training: all around weight training makes a soccer player even better. A stronger body helps prevent injury and improve all around performance.
Practice Drills help the soccer player be more skillful and a better player. There are many drills that can be done. Drills like dribbling to head butting are often used. Some of these drills include:
Practicing kicking the ball is a very important and often done drill. To practice the player will kick the ball into the net. Often there is a goalie that they try to score on. Kicking is the most important skill in soccer. Practicing will make your kick stronger and more controllable.
Passing is also a very important skill. One drill that can be done is to run side by side with another player and pass the ball back and forth. This skill will improve your passing and receiving skills. Passing is also vital in the game of soccer.
Heading is one of the only ways to legally hit the ball when it high in the air. With another player heading can be practiced. One player throws the ball high over top of the other player. The player then will jump up and hit the ball with his forehead and try to control the ball. Heading is very hard and often lots of practice are required.
Control of the ball is also very important. By setting up pylons in any order and distance and weaving through them in a pattern like formation can improve your control of the ball. Trying to go quick can also improve your speed of running while dribbling a ball.
One on one practice improves both your dribbling and tackling. With two players one is given the ball and must keep the ball away from the other player. While one player is improving his faking and dribbling the other is practicing his defense and tackling. When this drill is done often it can improve your offense as well as defense.