How To Play Soccer: A Helpful Guide For Beginners

Soccer is one of those sports that just about everyone plays at one point in their life these days. They might not stick with it too long past their youth, but there will always be those who really gravitate towards the game and will not go as far as possible athletically.

Learning the game of soccer is very easy on paper, and doing it the right way will lead to a lot of enjoyment. This guide’s purpose is to help people who are just starting and want to get into the flow of things as quickly as possible.


1. Read The Rules & Understand Different Positions

The first step towards being more knowledgeable about soccer and learning how to play comes down to simply knowing the basic rules and positions. Take a look at the rules involved with soccer, and what each position does on the pitch. It might seem tedious in the beginning, but having this base will make processing information a lot easier.

For example, think about a coach down the line asking a player to line up at a specific position. Having that information ready and understanding where to go without any further instruction can make the learning process so much easier.

No, it is not necessary to do a deep dive on all the different rules soccer has out there. The basics will do just fine for now. For those who are very new to the game, have a better understanding of some of the big ones like offsides is crucial.


2. Develop The Four Basic Skills Of Soccer

A beginner does not need anything too fancy, as learning specific skills can happen at just an open field in some cases. Players should focus on the four main skills that build a strong foundation for everything else.

Ball control is the first skill, and that has to do with getting the first touch down. Whether it is a lace, inside, outside, or sole touch, players must control the ball and hopefully go from there.

Dribbling is simply running with the ball as a beginner, giving it enough touches to control it and even change directions. Those people starting will learn how to dribble by going in a straight line, but eventually, there will be more of a focus on cutting with the ball and changing directions overall.

Whether it is another person or the wall, it is fairly easy to practice the art of passing as a beginner as well. This might involve the least amount of skill to start, but at high levels, soccer players must be able to pass the ball with great precision. They will be able to thread the needle and put the ball where they need to with either foot, and no matter where they are located on the pitch.

Finally, who does not love taking a shot on goal? Even if there is no soccer goal available, there are still ways to practice shots to see what ends up happening. The same wall used for passing can also be used for shooting, and beginners can become very creative in what they use. You can read more about the most essential soccer skills in this post.


3. Zeroing In On Specific Skills

Above are the four basic skills in soccer, but for true beginners, they need to focus on getting a skill or two down before trying to learn everything at once. If it becomes a bit too overwhelming, try to focus on one skill at a time and go from there.

Give each skill the proper amount of time evenly to start the learning process at first as well. There are going to be some times where everything seems easy to learn and get down, while at other times, it will be extremely frustrating.

The good thing is that these basic skills are all very easy to practice whenever a person wants. Finding a soccer pitch is obviously the ideal way to train, but just going to a park or even the backyard will be perfect.


4. Find Casual Matches Locally

Beginners likely are not ready to jump straight in and try to play the game of soccer correctly in any way. There is just too much to learn in a short amount of time, and nothing helps people understand soccer better than to jump in to pick up games.

Pick up games can only be a bunch of friends, or someone can meet complete strangers and start playing. Remember that beginners are likely not going to have that much initial success, so stay away from players that have been playing for many years.

Try to play a role in pickup games at first. No one is expecting a superstar. By hustling and giving good effort, most will earn an invite back down the line.


5. Work On Fitness

During the off-season, soccer players are always working on their long-distance muscles as well as their speed muscles. Every soccer player understands that each match is grueling, even at the recreational level. A person can’t get by with subpar fitness.

The good thing about this tip is that some people will come into soccer in pretty good shape already. While no sport is exactly the same as soccer, those who are runners, play basketball, tennis, or any other sport similar to those already have a pretty good base. It will take a lot less time to get into playing shape for soccer, which will make the training that much easier.


6. Work With a Player With The Same Skill Level & Aspirations

It gets pretty tough to train as an aspiring soccer player without a little bit of a push. One of the more intimidating things about being someone new to the sport is that so many people already seem very advanced, and they might not be willing to provide the right amount of time for someone to catch up.

All it takes is one other person who is at a similar skill level right now, and they have goals to improve as well. Working through all of the different workouts together can keep everyone locked in and ready, and results usually come at a faster pace.

Eventually, one player is going to emerge as the better of the two, but that still does not mean that training can’t continue. Once a person builds a bond with someone who shares the same passion, it is a friendship that could last for a very long time.


7. Trapping/First Touch

A very basic, key skill for any soccer player is to learn how to trap the ball the right way. Also known as the first touch, the goal is to stop the ball and control it as quickly as possible. Once controlled, a player decides to make a move. It takes a lot of time and practice to go from trapping the ball to dribbling, passing, or shooting, but that is eventually where every soccer player wants to get.

One key tip is to try to use the inside of the foot with the toe up to get the right technique down for the first touch. It might be instinctive for some people to use the feet in other ways, but this is the most efficient method.

There are plenty of ways to practice, and some people will find a wall and pass themselves to get things down. It is probably the most efficient way to work on the scale, even if it does start to get a little boring. As a player progresses, they can start to work on more advanced moves and quicker transitions.


8. Defensive Drills & Overall Strategy

Working on defense is one of the more complicated aspects involving the game of soccer. This is because it is tough to predict what the opposition is going to do, especially as a player moves up through different levels. In the beginning, playing defense is more or less waiting for the offense to make a mistake. As a player progresses, they start to pick up on tendencies individual players might have, and overall strategy that might help them win the ball overall.

Perhaps the most basic concept on defense is to keep the body between the ball and the player a person is in charge of guarding. If that player already has the ball in possession, stay in between them and the goal is the most basic strategy.

Start with 1-on-1 drills with defending, playing a very conservative style by simply keeping up with the person in control of the ball. Try to mirror them as much as possible, and do not go for any steals initially. Once a person is very comfortable in keeping up with the offense, that is when players can start to work on fighting for the ball and earning possession.


9. Sticking With The Sport

Some beginners really get into a new activity, and they want to do as much as possible to raise their level quickly. While it is always encouraging to see somebody have a lot of passion, it is important to take everything in stride to begin with. Burning out of an activity is something that happens more frequently than a lot of people realize, and soccer can get frustrating to the point that people give up before they get into it.

If it starts to feel like everything is too much, dial it down a bit and reassess the sport at a later time. Most people need to get over that initial brick wall they run into to take the next step. It is not that a person is suddenly no longer interested in soccer, but they realize that it is not come in as easily as one would like.

Whether it is a youngster getting into soccer as a first sport, or an adult looking to stay in shape, there are beginners of all ages trying to learn more about soccer. The basics above are a perfect starting point, and people will realize that there is so much more out there to learn on and off the field. Get a lot of the basics down, and life will be a lot easier down the road.

Connor Smith

I'm Connor, the guy behind SoccerPrime. I'm a former NCAA Div 1 college player that retired early at 21 due to injuries - which lead me into a new career as a soccer coach.

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