How To Play Football – The Basics

Bill Shankly (the former Liverpool manager) once said:

“Football is a simple game based on the give and take of passes, on ball control and making yourself available to receive a pass.”

It sounds very simple; it isn’t, but:

  • What are the rules of football?
  • How do football rules affect how you should play football?
  • What specific skills are required?
  • Which tactics should be applied?
  • What are the physical attributes that football players need?
  • Do soccer players need specific fitness requirements?
  • What should I learn first?
  • Which formation is best for a team to use?

What to do first?

When you learn to play soccer, the very first thing you should do is develop great technical skills. You can only gain technical skills by practicing and repeating different football exercises. While teamwork and tactics play a big part in how a team plays, the team’s performance will be limited based on the technical skills of the players and the skill level of the players.

The basic skills needed for a football player are:

  • ball control
  • dribbling
  • pass
  • to shoot
  • column
  • To defend
  • goalkeeping

To have good football skills, a lot of practice is required to develop them; a lot of trial and commitment is required. The key to creating great football skills is repetition. I recommend that players practice vigorously for at least 30 minutes a day to develop these skills, including juggling a soccer ball to ensure their technical skills are at an adequate level.

Tactics and formations

Teamwork is vital in football and to have a good understanding of how to get into goal positions and vice versa how to defend a team against the opponent requires a deep knowledge of the game and how to get players to play with different football formations.

Football Fitness

Being fit for football has a big influence on playing football. I was once in a team with limited technical skills compared to most teams in our league, but guess what we were second in the league purely because we were the strongest team in the league and often won games in the last minutes because we were fit enough to “run the opponent off their legs.” So never underestimate the impact fitness will have on your game.

Rules of football

There are different forms of football, ranging from micro football (3 a side) to the classic game of 11 aside. FIFA is the global governing body for football, and it is FIFA that controls the rules of the game that dictate how football should be played from the rules perspective. Understanding the laws of the game affects what you do, and all players should make sure they know the game’s rules.

A combination of learning the football skills described here, team tactics and team formations, football fitness, and understanding the rules of the game form the basis for playing football.

See some more articles from Nigels or his website for more information on playing football.