Soccer Kick Off

A simple guide to the rules & mechanics of the kickoff in football

The kick-off is the method of starting a football match or re-starting it after a goal is scored

A kickoff is the method of starting a football game or restarting it after a goal is scored. It is taken at the center part of the soccer field. During a kickoff, both teams must be on their own halves and only the kicker and the receiver can be inside the center circle (the big circle on the middle of the soccer field).

When is the kickoff used in football?

Rule 8 of the FIFA Laws of the Game determines the start and restart of play. According to the highest governing body of football, a kickoff restarts a play:

  • at beginning of a match
  • after a goal has been scored
  • at the start of each period of extra time in a football game

Who takes the kickoff in soccer?

Before the start of a soccer game, the referee tosses a coin. The winners choose ends for the first half and the losers kick off. The team that did not kick off will do so at the beginning of the second half. The kick-off is taken from the center spot and the ball must move into the opposition's half. After a goal, the kickoff is given to the team that has been scored against.

How to do a proper kick-off in soccer?

Players should follow a set of rules when they kick start a match. Below is the procedure:

  • the ball must be placed stationary on the center spot
  • all players must be on their respective halves before the ball is kicked
  • players from both sides who are not kicking off should be outside the center circle (10 yards away from the ball) until the ball is played
  • the referee blows the whistle to signal that the kickoff can already be made
  • the kicker has to push the ball forward and cannot touch it again until the ball is played by another player


Can a goal be scored directly from a kickoff?

Yes, a player may attempt to score a goal after the ball is touched by the kicker. (See video)

What is the sanction if a kick-off is wrongly executed?

An indirect free-kick is given to the opposing team if the kicker touches the ball twice before it is played by another player.

The kickoff has to be repeated for any other infringement of the kickoff rule.