Soccer Basics: Soccer General Rules with Mindiana Jones


If you read my last column, you’re now up to speed on the positions available to a soccer player. If not, read it here! This week, let’s explore some of the soccer general rules to this beautiful sport.

She's the Man, y'all
She’s the Man, y’all

Two Halves Make a Whole

Game format consists of two 45-minute halves, with a 15-minute halftime in between. At the end of each half, extra time is added when necessary. When is necessary? Read on, my friend…

The Clock Doesn’t Stop

In other sports, if someone is hurt or if a ball goes out of bounds, the clock is usually stopped until play is resumed. In soccer, the clock continues to run no matter what. However, this does not mean time is lost. Instead, stoppage time (extra time) is added to the end of each half to make up for any situations that arose during the half. The amount of stoppage time added, as well as signaling the end of the game is all left to the discretion of the referee.

As one can imagine, this often leads to controversy if a player scores late in the stoppage time period.

Keep Your Hands to Yourself

In general, players are not allowed to touch the ball with their hands or arms, unless they are the goalkeeper, or they are throwing the ball into play. When a player touches the ball, it may be considered a “handball.” The definition isn’t that simple though. To be a handball, the touch must have been deliberate (or deliberately did not attempt to move out of the way), and the decision of what is deliberate or not is left to the referee. If deliberate, a free direct kick is awarded to the opposing team. (More on kicks in a future article!)

Goalkeepers are allowed contact with their hands and arms, but only when the ball is within the penalty area, which is marked on the field.


There are a few situations in which the goalkeeper cannot touch the ball, such as when a teammate intentionally kicks the ball to the goalie. The goalkeeper must then use their feet. This prevents teams who are winning from wasting time by repeatedly kicking the ball to their goalie.

Punishment is Often like Elementary School

Remember in 2nd grade when every student in the class had green, yellow, and red cards? If you had expected behaviors, you stayed on green, but yellow or red meant you were in trouble. Soccer is similar. Red or yellow penalty cards are used to indicate when a player is being reprimanded. The referee will raise the card above his head while looking or pointing to the player being punished.

Yellow cards indicates an official warning from the officials. When a yellow is given, the referee will then write down information about the player and penalty. A red card signals that a player is being sent off and will be unable to play the rest of the game. Some penalties are an automatic red. However, if a player receives two yellows, it subsequently becomes a red and he is also sent off. A substitute is not allowed to come in for a player who has received a red card, unless it is the goalkeeper.

Don’t Cross the Line

A ball is out of play if the entire ball rolls across the outside lines on the field. If only a portion of the ball is outside of the lines, it is fair. Now, if a player is out of bounds, but the ball is inside the lines, it is also still considered playable. If a ball rolls completely out of bounds, play stops, and the team who did not touch it last is allowed to throw the ball back in.

I have a K-State game to go pregame for, but I hope in the midst of the upcoming American football season, you find this guide to soccer general rules helpful.


Soccer general rules is in the books. See ya in two weeks for another round!

Questions? Comments? Leave one below or stalk Mindy on @sprotstakes  or @mindiana_jones

Like what you read and want some more? Check out other posts from Mindy here!