Soccer games start with one team kicking off to gain control of the ball. Games are restarted with kick-offs after a goal is scored, at the beginning of the second half and at the beginning of extra time periods. Goals can be scored directly from a kick-off, but generally the kick-off leads to a sequence of passes by the team with first possession of the ball.
Deciding Which Team Kicks Off
A pre-game coin flip determines which team kicks off first. The winner of the flip selects which goal to attack in the first half and gets to kick off to start the second half. The loser of the coin flip kicks off to start the game. The teams change ends for the start of the second half and attack in the opposite direction.
Each team must have all of its players on its side of the center line for the kick-off. Players on the opposing team must remain at least 10 yards from the ball -- staying outside of the center circle -- until the kicking team puts it into play.
The ball is placed in a stationary position at the center mark. At the referee's signal, the player kicking off moves the ball, typically by passing it to a teammate. A player can attempt to score directly off the kick-off. The player kicking off cannot touch the ball a second time until a teammate touches the ball. When a second-touch violation occurs, the opposing team gets an indirect free kick from the spot of the infringement. Other violations can result in a re-kick.
Players on both teams can move forward once the kickoff occurs. Teams typically run plays off the kick-off, moving the ball forward, laterally or backward with the second pass and building a set piece from there. Occasionally teams score goals off of designed kick-off plays, but that is unusual.
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