When the ball is in play, the goaltender is the only player on the field who is authorised to use his hands. The goalkeeper’s role is self-evident. They prohibit the ball from crossing the goal line with their entire body, preventing the opposing team from scoring. Outside of the 18-yard box, the goalie is not allowed to use his or her hands. Here’s our goalkeepers resource for youth coaches, which outlines the fundamentals of goalkeeping. One apparent query that deserves a swift response. The goalie always wears a contrasting colour shirt to make it easier for the referee to identify him or her. That shirt was traditionally green.


Remember how we talked about 4-4-2? This is a standard soccer configuration. You’ll note that it adds up to 10 instead of 11. Because there are ten field players plus the goalkeeper, this is the case. Because a goalie is required, formations only apply to field players. So, starting with the defender, we read the formation. In a 4-4-2 formation, the first four players are the defenders in front of the goalie. Is it always necessary to have four people? No. Aside from the goalie and the requirement for ten field players, those players can play in any formation the coach desires. Here’s a lot more about setting up a soccer defence than you really need to know right now.


These are the players in the centre of the formation, our second group of four in our 4-4-2 configuration, as you could imagine. Midfielders are responsible for both attacking and defensive duties, linking defenders and forwards and attempting to maintain the flow of play. There’s more to it, but for the time being, that’s all you need to know. The positions aren’t set with intricate playbooks like in American football. Though pro soccer’s highest level can be compared to high-speed chess, it lacks the stops and starts of American football and does not feature the same positions. A defender can attack and a midfielder can defend.


The two players in our 4-4-2 who are most likely to score goals. From an offensive standpoint, formations are intended to get the ball to the attacking players so that they may perform their duties. An article about the 11 tasks of a soccer forward can be found here.

Clubs and Nations

Let’s look at what it means to play professionally now that we have a better understanding of how the game is played. Professional soccer, unlike most sports, has leagues all over the world. Most leagues are required by FIFA to be based in a single country. Major League Soccer is an exception, with teams able to compete in both the United States and Canada. Clubs from Wales are allowed to compete in England’s league.

There is no single major league like in American professional sports. The Premier League in England is widely regarded as the greatest in the world, but there is no obvious winner when the world’s best players play in Spain, some of the world’s biggest clubs play in Italy, and a German club is frequently in contention for European title.

When leagues are divided by country, how can there be a European champion? FIFA is the governing body of soccer in the world, with six regional confederations reporting to it. Each of these confederations has its own tournament to determine a regional champion. The Champions League is the equivalent in Europe. Even though FIFA hosts a Club World Cup, the Champions League is the top level of club competition.

What distinguishes this from the World Cup? National Teams compete in the World Cup. Each soccer-playing country has its own squad. That’s near enough if you’re thinking of all-star squads. Except that these all-star teams demand that their members be citizens of the countries they represent. Because the Premier League attracts players from all around the world, England’s National Side isn’t an all-star team. The National Team of England is made up of the best English citizens.

Every four years, FIFA selects the host country for the World Cup. Hosting the World Cup is a big coup, similar to hosting the Olympics, with countries bidding for the tournament years in advance.

So there you have it: the fundamentals, along with links to resources that should help you better comprehend soccer. Before you leave, check out our guide to watching soccer on TV. It explains everything you need to know in order to get the maximum enjoyment out of watching the games.

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