Each game starts with a kickoff. A kickoff also takes place at the beginning of each period and each time a goal is scored: After a goal is scored, the team that gave up the point controls the kickoff. At the start of the second half, the team that did not open the game controls the kickoff and the teams switch sides.
On kickoffs, throw-ins, comer kicks and goal kicks, the ball must be touched by another player before the kicker (or thrower) can make a second play on the ball. The other team gets an indirect free kick when a player breaks this rule. The ball remains in play until:
- The game is stopped by the referee
- Time runs out.
- The ball goes out of bounds by crossing the sideline or endline (goal line), regardless of whether it's on the ground or in the air. If the ball hits a goal post, crossbar, comer flag or an official and rebounds back into the field of play it's still in play. Continuous play is one of the main reasons soccer is so appealing to the fans and players.
If the referee calls for time out (for example, when a player is injured) the game resumes with a drop ball where the ball was last in play. If the game stops while the ball is in the penalty area, the drop ball is performed in the nearest spot outside the penalty area.
- The referee drops the ball from waist height between one player from each team.
- The ball is in play once it hits the ground. If either player touches the ball before it hits the ground the referee will drop the ball again.
If the ball goes out of bounds over the sideline, them team that last touched the ball loses possession. A member of the opposing team returns the ball to play with a throw-in.
- The player stands at the point where the ball crossed the line and throws the ball over his/her head using both hands.
- The players feet must remain on the ground before releasing the ball.
- If the player throws the ball incorrectly, a member of the opposite team gets a chance at a throw-in.
When an offensive player accidentally kicks the ball across the end line, the referee stops the play. Play restarts with a defensive goal kick from the goal area.
- The ball can be put anywhere in the goal area but must be stationary.
- A defending player kicks the ball up field.
- The offensive team must remain out of the penalty area until the ball passes the penalty area.
- If the ball does not clear the penalty area, the defending player gets another chance to kick the ball.
- If a defensive player causes the ball to cross the end line, the opponents are awarded a comer kick.
- The referee will point to the comer and the ball will be placed in the comer closest to where the ball left the field of play.
- Defensive players must remain 10 yards away from the ball until it is kicked.
- The kicker usually lofts the ball to a teammate who tries to score.