A goal is one of the most important parts of soccer, but not everyone fully understands what exactly a goal is.
In this article, I want to take the time to clearly explain the different definitions of what a goal is and the rules of soccer that apply to a goal.
Hopefully, you’ll get to the end of this article feeling you now know much more about a goal in soccer than you did when you arrived here.
In soccer, there are two definitions for a goal:
- A goal is a frame at either end of the soccer field consisting of 2 vertical goalposts and 1 horizontal crossbar on top of and connecting the 2 goalposts.
- A goal is scored in soccer when the ball completely passes over the goal line, between the goalposts, and beneath the crossbar at either end of the soccer field.
These two definitions are both used to explain what a goal is, but clearly refer to two different things. They are, however, both important to understand to fully appreciate the game of soccer.
Let’s first look in more detail at what it means to score a goal, before going on to look at the details of the goal frame on a soccer field.
Scoring a Goal in Soccer
Scoring a goal is one of the most exciting moments of any game.
To score a goal in soccer the ball must travel over the goal line between the goalposts and under the crossbar at either end of the field. A player can use any part of their body, except their hands or arms, to score a goal.
The feeling of seeing the ball hit the back of the net and win the game for your team is incredible and stays with you for a long time.
Just look at this video below of soccer players celebrating after scoring a goal to get an idea of how great the moment feels!
Watching the team you support score a goal can be almost as good, but it’s not quite the same as scoring yourself!
The feeling of excitement when a player scores are so intense because of the significance of the moment and the value of that goal for their team.
How Many Points Is a Goal Worth in Soccer?
Once someone understands what a goal is they then want to know what a soccer goal is worth and how many points it gives a team.
A goal in soccer is worth one point. The referee awards one point every time a team scores a goal, no matter where the goal is scored from or how a player scored the goal. Once the game ends, the number of points, or goals, are added together, and the team with the most points wins.
Scoring a goal is so valuable because that is how a soccer team collects points. And the more points a team collects then the greater their chance of winning the game.
The reason for this is that the team that has scored the most goals at the end of the game and therefore collected the most points is the winner of the game.
How many points a team is awarded after a game is a different matter that I’ll explain in just a moment, but I quickly wanted to highlight one more element of this before we move on.
Every type of goal is worth only 1 point.
Unlike a sport such as basketball, where the number of points awarded can vary, in soccer, a team can only ever score one point from a goal.
It doesn’t matter where the player took the shot from or how they scored, a goal is worth one point to their team.
But there are specific rules that a player must stick to if they want their goal to be counted.
Rules for Scoring a Goal
According to the official rules of the game of soccer, a goal is scored when the entire ball passes over the goal line at the same time as passing between the two goalposts and under the crossbar.
A goal being scored is also dependant on no offense having been committed by the team scoring the goal at this moment or in the moments immediately preceding this.
There are a few critical things to highlight here:
- The whole ball has to have crossed the goal line for it to be counted as a goal. Even if a tiny fraction of an inch or mm has not crossed the line then no goal is awarded. This is shown in the image above. With the modern technology used in soccer, a referee can find out if this is the case.
- What a team does in the moments before a goal matters. Even if the ball has crossed the goal line the referee may judge that an offense was committed by the goal-scoring team immediately before this happened and the goal is then disallowed.
There is no room for negotiation or compromise with these rules.
For example, if a goalie catches the ball behind the goal line then it is still counted as a goal as the ball has fulfilled the criteria of a goal being scored.
A goal has been scored because the position of the goalie is irrelevant. What matters is the position of the ball and the ball alone.
In fact, if the goalie has the ball in their hands and under control but for some reason then carries the ball over the goal line, between the goalposts, and under the crossbar, then a goal is awarded to the other team.
Interestingly there is actually one situation where the ball can meet the criteria set out above for a goal but not be counted as a goal. This only happens when a goalie has thrown the ball into the goal.
If the goalie throws the ball into the opposition’s net then it isn’t considered a goal.
Apart from the fact that it would be a very impressive feat for a goalie to throw the ball from one end of the field to the other(!), the reason for this is that in another part of the rules of soccer it is seen as an offense to deliberately handle the ball in an attempt to score a goal.
If this happens then a goal kick is awarded to the opposition and the game then carries on.
How these goals affect a team after the game is determined by soccer’s scoring system.
Soccer Scoring System
At the end of a game, the organizers of the league the game is a part of will also award each team a number of points.
Thankfully the soccer scoring system is fairly straightforward to understand. Here’s an explanation of how soccer scoring works.
Soccer scoring system:
- If a team ends the game having scored more goals than the opposition they are awarded 3 points.
- If both teams end the game having scored the same amount of goals they are both awarded 1 point.
- If a team ends the game having scored fewer goals than the opposition they are awarded 0 points.
A team receives three points if they win, one point for a tie, and zero points if they lose a game.
As you can see, ultimately, the amount of goals scored by a team isn’t the most important factor in a game. What matters most is that one team ends the game with more goals than the other team.
Your team can score 8 goals in a game, but if the opposition scores 9 goals, you will lose the game and won’t be awarded any points.
But you can also score 1 single goal in a game and as long as your team doesn’t concede any goals you will win the game and receive a maximum of 3 points on offer.
This scoring system can lead different teams to play in very different ways.
Some teams will try and score as many goals as they can to outscore the opposition while other teams will do all they can to not concede any goals and hope to score a goal themselves when they have the chance to attack.
Either way, at the end of the game the team with the most goals scored receives the most points.
The Goal Frame
Having looked at the definition of what a goal is let’s move on to the second meaning of a goal – the frame at either end of a soccer field.
At either end of a soccer field, there stands a metal structure known as a goal. If you’ve ever seen a soccer field I’m sure you will have noticed them.
Usually painted white, the goal is the focal point of the game for each team. In a game of soccer, the more times a team can get the ball into the goal, the higher the chances are that they will be the winners of the game.
A soccer goal has to meet very specific requirements to ensure fairness between all teams that play each other and the soccer fields they play on.
According to the official laws of the game of soccer, a soccer goal must:
- Be placed on the center of the goal line at both ends of the field
- Consists of two vertical posts an equal distance away from the corner flagposts. The posts must be joined at the top by a horizontal crossbar and can be square, rectangular, round or elliptical in shape.
- Have a distance between the inside of the posts of 8 yards (7.32m)
- Have a distance from the lower edge of the crossbar to the ground of 8 ft (2.44 m).
- Be white and have the same width and depth all the way around. The width and depth cannot exceed 5 inches (12cm)
- Be firmly secured to the ground and not be dangerous
- It can have a net attached to it and the ground as long as it doesn’t interfere with the goalie in any way.
All over the world, you will see goals on soccer fields that look exactly alike. Perfectly matching these requirements.
In case you were wondering about the purpose of having a net attached to a goal, the idea is simply to stop the ball after it has passed through the goal frame.
Rather than having to chase the ball behind the goal, the ball is stopped by the net and is ready to be picked up and used to restart the game.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Hopefully, you now feel you have a better understanding of what a goal is in soccer and what it means to score a goal.
If you would like to learn more about the beautiful game that is soccer check out one of these other articles that I’ve written to help people appreciate the game even more:
- What are Soccer Cleats? Everything you need to know
- First Touch in Soccer: What It Means and How to Improve
- What is a Brace in Soccer?
And if you are looking for recommendations for the best soccer equipment to buy check out my recommended soccer equipment pages.