A kickoff in soccer officially starts the first half, second half, extra time, and resuming play after a goal. One team starts with the ball in the first half, while the second team gets the ball in the second. Taking a kickoff at the center of the soccer field is part of the FIFA Laws of the Game. Here is the complete breakdown of how a soccer game starts!
The National Anthem
For international and big-time games, like the World Cup, you will see an anthem occur either over the speakers or by a singer. If it is a global game, each team will have their national anthem played before it begins.
Soccer Ceremony Festivities with Kids
In addition to the anthem, you will see kids accompany the soccer players as they walk out to the pitch. Kids walking out with the soccer players can help raise awareness for a charity, remind players and fans that this is a fun game, and give the kids a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be on the field with their favorite players.
A Brief History of the Coin Toss Rule Changes in Soccer
In 1863, the Laws of the Game stated that the losing team of the coin toss got the ball first via the kickoff. Then in 1873, the side that won the coin toss had the option to choose if they wanted to start or defend at the beginning of the game. In 1997, the coin toss rule went back to the losing coin toss team would start with the ball via the kickoff.
Finally, in 2019, the game’s rules went back to the coin toss winner could choose if they wanted to start with the ball or not.
The Coin Toss in Soccer Today
A coin flip determines which team kicks at the center of the pitch to start the soccer match. The team captain from both teams will meet with the official referee at the center of the soccer field for the coin toss. The winning team of the coin flip decides if they want to start a kickoff in the first half of the second half.
For example, if the winning team of the coin toss defends to start the first half, they will begin with the ball in the second half after halftime. Or vice versa, if they decide to kick during the first half, they will defend in the second half.
How Many Players Start a Soccer Game?
There are eleven athletes on the soccer field for each team during a soccer match. Those eleven positions include the goalie, striker, and forwards, and they go on the field of play after the coin toss. Teams will space out their players in formations like 4-2-4, 4-3-3, and 4-5-1.
The Soccer Kick-off Explanation
A soccer kickoff occurs at the center of the field to begin the game. A single-player starts with the stationary ball at the center pitch, and the rest of the team needs to be on their own half of the field. The kicker can pass the soccer ball to a teammate or directly take a shot towards the goal area. Before 2016, the soccer rule did not allow you to shoot at the goal via a kickoff.
The kicker can’t dribble with the ball in the center circle to start a kickoff. Soccer rules state that the kicker can’t touch the ball a second time, which is why you can’t dribble up the field during the kickoff. The other team receives an indirect free kick if you happen to do that.
A common tactic by the attacking team is to kick the soccer ball forward to start the game but then pass it back to a midfielder to begin their offensive play.
How Does the Defending Team Protect Against the Kickoff?
Defending teams can run a few different formations to protect their goal during a kickoff. Some common formations include full-on collapses and presses. Another formation a team might use is man-to-man coverage. One thing to note is that defenders must be 10 yards away from the kicker.
Is there a Soccer Penalty for Taking too Long to Kick During a Kick-Off?
If a soccer player is taking too long to kick the ball on a kickoff, they can receive a yellow card for a delay in the game. If that player causes another postponement of play during the kickoff, they will get a red card because that is a repeat of the first penalty.
How Do Soccer Games Start Again After the Kickoff?
After another team scores a goal, there is a brief stoppage to allow the team to celebrate. After the temporary stoppage from the opponent’s goal, the other team starts with the ball via a kickoff. Just like to start a game, a kickoff needs that player to either pass the ball to a teammate or they can take a shot towards their opponent’s goalkeeper.
How Does the Second Half Start in Soccer?
The second half starts with the team defending on the first kickoff to get the ball.
Is a Kickoff a Direct Free Kick or Indirect Free Kick in Soccer?
A kickoff is a direct free kick in soccer. A direct free kick means that the team kicking the ball can kick it directly into the other team’s goal. On the other hand, an indirect kick requires another player to touch the ball before you can attempt a goal shot.
Does a Kickoff Occur When the Soccer Ball Goes out of Bounds?
When the soccer ball goes out of bounds, there is no kickoff. Instead, there will be a throw-in or a corner kick, depending on where the ball went out. A kickoff only occurs to start a half or after a goal.
Conclusion: How Does a Soccer Game Start?
In summary, a soccer game begins with a coin flip that gives one team a chance to either kick or defend to start a game. A kickoff only occurs to start a half or after another team scores a goal. Not only is a kick-off able to start up an offensive play, but sometimes you can even score directly from a kick, which is impressive and rare!