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Soccer is perhaps one of the fastest growing sports in USA. It is also one of the simplest sports in the world.

Following are the 10 basic rules of soccer that every youth player and their parents should be aware of:

1)     A typical soccer match lasts 90 minutes, divided into two halves of 45 minutes each. Play in each half is started via a kick off. Normally there are 11 players on a team, including a goalkeeper. Following are general standards for game length followed in youth soccer for different age groups:

2) The players should always play the ball, and never the player. Every action should be directed towards controlling the ball or taking away possession, but never to stop a player or tackle him.

3) Arms and hands are the only parts of the body, not allowed to control the ball.

4) Offside: As per the rule book, when the ball is played by the teammate, if you are in front or even with the second to last defender (goalkeeper is the last defender), you are guilty of offside. It is not a foul to be in offside position but if you become involved in the play, offside will be called.

This can be a hard rule to understand. Don’t get too hung up on it. Trust the referees. Download the FIFA Laws of the Game . They have good diagrams of what is and isn’t considered offside.

5) Yellow Card typically signifies a caution and main reason for a player to receive a yellow card could be:  persistent infringement, failure to ask referee for entering or leaving the field, dissent, unsporting behavior or failure to respect required distance on a restart.

6) Red Card signifies a send-off. If a player has received a red card that means that he/she would have to immediately leave the field and the surrounding area. His/her team will have to now play with 10 players. The reasons for red card could be receiving two yellow cards in a match, serious foul play, committing a foul so that the opposing team was unable to score a goal from a very easy opportunity, spitting or violent behavior.

7) Only goalkeepers are allowed to use their hands or arms to control the ball. There is only one condition when the goalkeeper is not allowed to use their hands, when the ball is kicked back to them intentionally by any of his/her teammates. Youth leagues under 10′s don’t really enforce this rule as most of the time it isn’t an intentional pass back.

8) Direct and Indirect Free Kicks: On a direct kick you can score by kicking the ball directly into the goal. On an indirect kick you cannot score. An indirect kick must be touched by another player before it can go into the goal – that is the kicker and a second person.

For an indirect kick, the referee will hold one arm straight up in the air until the second person touches the ball. No arm up, it’s a direct kick.

There are many soccer rules around what causes a direct or indirect kick.

In general, a direct kick comes from a contact foul or hand ball. Everything else is indirect.

9) Throw in: When the ball goes out of bounds on the sidelines, it’s a throw in. You’re only allowed to throw over your head and your feet must be remaining on the ground at the time the ball is released.

10) Corner kick: When a player on the opposing team shoots and comes off your own players and goes behind the goal, it is a corner kick.

Footballs have gone through a dramatic change over time. Earlier balls were normally made from an outer shell of leather filled with cork shavings. Another method of creating a ball was using animal bladders for the inside of the ball making it inflatable. However, these two styles of creating footballs made it easy for the ball to puncture and were inadequate for kicking. It was not until the 19th century that footballs developed into what a football looks like today.Lets look at the various balls used for the Fifa World cup and see how it developed into the present form.

  1. World Cup 1970 Official Ball: Telstar by Adidas                                                                                                                             The first ball with a black and white pattern used in the FIFA World Cup finals. It was painted with black and white panels so it was more visible on black-and-white television. It was the first World Cup ball to use the truncated icosahedrons or bucky ball for its design, consisting of 12 black pentagonal and 20 white hexagonal panels, which later became the regular design of a football. Older balls had consisted of groups of stripes, similar to the configuration of the modern volleyball. Although made of leather; it still had relative water resistant qualities provided by its shiny durlast coating.
  2. World Cup 1974 Official Ball: Telstar Durast by Adidas                                                                                                                  It was one of two official match balls of the 1970 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, along with the Chile. The similar Telstar Durlast was the official ball of the 1974 FIFA World Cup held in West Germany.
  3. World Cup 1978 Official Ball: Tango by Adidas                                                                                                                                     It introduced a new design which would be used for the next twenty years: Twenty identical panels with ‘triads’ created the impression of 12 circles. It was the most expensive ball in history, at the time, with a £50 price tag. Like its predecessors, the Adidas Tango Durlast was made of genuine leather and boasted the shiny waterproofing Durlast coating.
  4. World Cup 1982 Official Ball: Tango Espana by Adidas                                                                                                                     Adidas introduced a new ball which had rubber inlaid over the seams to prevent water from seeping through. The first ball with water-resistant qualities. General wear from kicking however meant the rubber began to wear after a short time and needed to be replaced during the game. The last genuine leather world cup ball.
  5. World Cup 1986 Official Ball: Azteca Mexico by Adidas                                                                                                                    The FIFA World Cup Mexico, saw the introduction of the first polyurethane coated ball which was rain-resistant. The first synthetic match ball, with good qualities on hard and wet surface.
  6. World Cup 1990 Official Ball: Etrusco Unico by Adidas                                                                                                                   It was the official match ball of the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy and the Euro 1992 in Sweden. The name and intricate design took their inspiration from Italy’s ancient history and the fine art of the Etruscans. Three Etruscan lion heads decorate each of the 20 Tango triads.
  7. World Cup 1994 Official Ball: Questra by Adidas                                                                                                                                                            It was enveloped in a layer of polystyrene foam. This not only made it more waterproof but allowed the ball greater acceleration when kicked. The new game ball felt softer to the touch. Improved ball control and higher velocity during play.
  8. World Cup 1998 Official Ball: Tricolore by Adidas                                                                                                                              By 1998, FIFA World Cup France was played with a ball which sported the French red-white-blue tri-color. A complete departure from the old traditional black and white pattern.  The first official World Cup soccer ball that was in color. The TRICOLORE used underglass print technology with a thin layer of syntactic foam.
  9. World Cup 2002 Official Ball: Fevernova by Adidas                                                                                                                                                  This ball was notoriously criticized for being too light, yet some spectacular goals were scored with it during the tournament. The ball was also blamed for a number of upsets that happened in he knockout stages.
  10. World Cup 2006 Official Ball: +Teamgeist by Adidas                                                                                                                        ??The ball was designed by the Adidas Innovation Team and the Molten Corporation and is made by Adidas. The +Teamgeist ball differs from previous balls in having just 14 curved panels (making the ball topologically equivalent to a truncated octahedron), rather than the 32 that have been standard since 1970. In another first, the panels are bonded together, rather than stitched. It is claimed to be rounder and to perform more uniformly regardless of where it is hit, and being almost waterproof, it does not change performance as much when wet.
  11. World Cup 2010 Official Ball: Jabulani by Adidas                                                                                                                               On December 4th, adidas and FIFA officially unveiled the adidas “JABULANI”, the Official Match Ball for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. The “JABULANI”, which means “to celebrate” in isiZulu, features a South African inspired design and radically new technology.Eleven different colors are used in the Adidas “JABULANI”, the eleventh Adidas World Cup ball. These 11 colors represent the 11 players in every team, the 11 official languages of South Africa and the 11 South African communities that make the country one of the most ethnologically diverse countries on the African continent. The colorful design brings together the tremendous diversity of the country in harmonious unity. Four triangle-shaped design elements on a white background lend the ball a unique appearance in African spirit. And like the outer facade of Johannesburg’s Soccer City Stadium, individual design elements also capture the colorfulness of South Africa.