The 5 Basic Rules of Women’s Soccer That You Need To Know.

As passionate fans and totally awesome players, we know that women’s soccer is just as dynamic, thrilling, and intense as the men’s game.

And yet, for some reason, many people still think that the rules of women’s soccer are different or watered down.

Well, allow us to debunk that myth right now – the rules are exactly the same, folks!

Here’s a handy guide to refresh your memory and brush up on your soccer knowledge. Let’s kick it off and show the world what women’s soccer is all about!

What are the rules of women’s soccer?

If you’re planning on playing a game, attending a game or watching it on TV, you need to know the ins and outs of the rules. So kick back, relax and get ready to become a soccer expert!

Rule #1. The Field or Pitch

Rules of women's soccer 11 vs 11 pitch size and markings infographic

Whatever size game you’re playing, a women’s soccer pitch is exactly the same dimensions as one used by men!

We all play on a standard soccer field – a rectangular pitch, with two goals positioned at the center of each end.

The field’s dimensions are roughly 100-130 yards long and 50-100 yards wide, with a 10-yard penalty box and an 18-yard goal area at each end.

The corners of the field are marked by flags, and the halfway line divides the field into two equal halves.

But the size of pitch can vary depending on what age you are, and what game you play.

For instance, U-6 and U-8 fields are much smaller, with the field only being about 25 yards long and 15 yards across.

If you play 5-a-side, the field will be even smaller, with no penalty box. And it may be made from artificial grass whereas top flight professional football pitches are made from natural grass.

Rule #2 The Players

rules of women's soccer team photo

Each team consists of 11 players, with one (tall) one being the goalkeeper.

The goalie’s job is to prevent the opposing team from scoring goals by blocking shots on goal. The goalkeeper is the only player on the team who can use their hands within their penalty area.

The other ten players on the field are divided into defenders, midfielders, and forwards.

Depending on their position, each player has specific roles, including positioning, defending, passing, and scoring goals in the oppo’s net!

Rule #3 The Duration of the Game

soccer referee watch apple watch

A soccer game is made up of two halves lasting 45 minutes each.

Half-time is a short 15-minute break where players can rest, hydrate, and strategize with their coach.

If neither team is ahead when the 90 minutes game time is over, players will continue playing extra time. This is another 30 minutes long, split into two halves of 15 minutes each way.

If the game remains tied, penalty shots will be taken to decide the winner. Nail-biting stuff!

Rule #4 The Offside Rule

offside rule explanation infographic

This is the most misunderstood rule in soccer! But it’s really not that complicated.

When an attacking player receives the ball behind the last defender, the player is in an offside position. That’s it!

If the player plays the ball and is actively involved in the game before there are two defending players behind them, the referee will call the offside.

Offsides can be challenging for beginners, but all you really need to know is that attackers have to remain behind the last defender until the ball is played. Simple!

Rule #5 Fouls and Yellow and Red Cards

ref holding up red card image

Referreeeeee! Fouls can be called for various reasons, including dangerous tackles, unsporting behaviors like diving or faking injury, and intentional handballs.

When a bad foul happens, the referee may award a yellow card to the offending player as a warning.

A red card is given for serious offences, such as violent conduct or dangerous tackles, and if the player receives a red card, they must leave the field and cannot be replaced.

Watch and learn: Football (Soccer) Rules for Beginners

Here’s a great video we love that talks you through everything you need to know – from offside to VAR to corner kicks, throw-ins and penalty shootouts!

Women’s soccer rules FAQs

Does women’s football have different rules to mens’?

Nope. Soccer is soccer. The rules of the game remain same, the field size is same, and the goals are the same size, ball, and player positions are all identical.

The only differences you might notice are in the speed and strength of the players, but the rules themselves remain exactly the same. 

What sets women’s soccer apart is the passion, the dedication, and the determination to overcome obstacles and inspire others to do the same – on and off the field.

As for rules, whether you’re playing in World Cup, Premier League, or an amateur league, soccer is all about scoring goals, making tackles, and playing with heart.

That’s what makes soccer so special!

How long is a female soccer game?

You guessed it, the answer is that a women’s soccer game lasts for the same length as the men’s – a whopping 90 minutes of non-stop action!

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, the women’s game is just as exciting and full of nail-biting moments as the men’s, and they play for the same amount of time.

How is women’s football different to men’s?

Although women’s and men’s football are played on the same field, with the same rules, there can be some differences in the way that we play.

Women’s football is generally less physical, with fewer tackles and collisions. This can lead to a faster, more technical game, which requires precision and skill. 

Because women are playing on the same size pitch as the men, they have to work harder to cover more ground and use their energy wisely (not as much rolling around faking injury for us! Sorry lads!).

Next time you watch a women’s football match, keep an eye out for these unique characteristics and appreciate the sheer talent on display.

How long is a women’s soccer game in the World Cup?

Every match in the Women’s World Cup will be 90 minutes long, with two halves of 45 minutes and a half term break of 15 minutes.

In the group stage and knockout rounds, each match has a standard duration of 90 minutes.

If the score is tied at the end of regulation time, the game goes into extra time, which consists of two 15-minute halves.

And if it’s still tied after that, the match will be decided by a penalty shootout.

Overall, just like the men’s, a women’s soccer game at the World Cup can be unpredictable and thrilling, making it the perfect event to gather with your pals and cheer on your favorite teams!

The final score.

We hope this guide has helped you understand the basic rules of women’s soccer.

Remember, soccer is a fun and exciting sport, but it takes time, practice, and patience to master the basics.

Whether you’re a player or a spectator, understanding the rules of women’s soccer will make you appreciate the game even more. Get ready to lace up your cleats and score some goals!

This article was written & reviewed by

  • Anna Adams, Creative Director & Content Lead

    Hi there! I'm Anna Adams, your go-to source for all things women's soccer. I've been crazy about soccer for over 20 years, ever since I was kicking a ball around with my brothers as a kid. I've turned my passion into a career where I get to share all the cool stuff about soccer with you. As a content lead, I've had the awesome opportunity to work with various sports brands and publications. Whether it's the latest gear, pro tips, or just some cool soccer trivia, I'm all about making soccer ac...

  • MIa Johnson, Fitness Expert & Soccer Coach

    Hello! I'm Mia, a high school Physical Education teacher in Orlando, Florida by day and a soccer blog contributor by night. My journey with soccer began just like any other enthusiastic player - on a local field, chasing after a ball and dreaming big. Soccer became my way to teach, inspire, and connect with others. In addition to my role in education, I've taken my passion for soccer a step further by earning a coaching qualification. This badge not only represents my commitment to the sport...