Soccer is a popular sport amongst all age groups and skill levels. You don’t have to be an expert or even have any special skills to start playing soccer. Because of the variety of ages and skill levels that play this popular team sport, the equipment used in games varies, too.
With the object of the game being to get the most points from scoring goals, the size and build of the goal is one of the varying factors in soccer games. It is helpful to know the appropriate size of the equipment when practicing so you can know better what to expect during a game, and ideally can practice with the same size goal.
Not only is it helpful to know the size of the goal, but also whether or not it will have an attached net (which is not required at all levels) and the placement of the surrounding lines. Understanding this will help you better prepare to score an accurate and valid goal during a game.
Who Determines Standard Goal Sizes
FIFA, the International Football Federation, is charged with regulating all soccer rules and guidelines, including goal size standards. The NCAA, or National Collegiate Athletic Association, enforces college soccer rules. The National Federation of State High School Associations, NFHS, is in charge of high school soccer rules.
Soccer Goal Sizes
As previously mentioned, soccer goal sizes will vary based on skill level and age. You might assume that the lower the skill level or age, the larger the goal would be to make it easier to score. In fact, the opposite is true.
Smaller, younger players should use a smaller goal in proportion to their body size, as this helps them better develop their skills. As the players grow and become more skilled, the goal will also be larger, but the players will have already learned to aim a shot on goal with accuracy.
Professional soccer goals, such as the ones used in international games, are 8 feet (2.44 meters) tall and 24 feet wide (7.32 meters). This is the standard or largest size, and what is most commonly used. The goals used at the high school level are typically this size as well.
Colleges either use professional sized goals or slightly smaller ones measuring 7 feet high by 21 feet wide. Elementary school or children’s goals are usually 4.5 feet tall by 9 feet wide, and middle school goals are 6.5 feet tall by 18 feet wide. Indoor soccer goals are usually 6.5 feet tall by 12 feet wide.
Not only does the size of the goal matter for the best training, but so does the area surrounding the goal. The goal area is a rectangle around the goal marked by visible lines, with the goal being in the center and back of the rectangle.
The lines are 6 yards (5.5 meters or 18 feet) from the goal on the left and the right of the goal, and 6 yards extending from the front of the goal out into the field.
If a player scores a shot on goal from within these lines the goal is valid. Goalies are usually within the goal area when shots are being taken on goal, but goalies are allowed to handle the ball anywhere from the goal out to the edges of the penalty box.
Just outside of the goal area is the penalty area, also known as the penalty box. The penalty area starts 18 yards (16.5 meters or 54 feet) from the goal and into the field, forming another rectangle encompassing the goal area and goal, with the goal sitting in the center and back of the rectangle. The lines dividing the goal area from the penalty box are very important both for practice and during games.
If the referee calls a foul on a team, then the other team is awarded a penalty shot, which must be taken from the penalty box. This is an example of when a goal kicked from outside the goal box is valid. The penalty box is the goalie’s realm, and he is legally allowed to handle the ball from within the penalty box (and the goal area and the goal, of course).
Knowing the appropriate sizes of the goal and where lines are drawn on the field can help you and your team make the most out of practices and have the best chance of performing well at games. Try to match your goal size and markings to your skill level and age for best results.