Blog > 09 March, 2023

How does soccer scoring work?

A primer on how points are scored in soccer, including penalties and offsides. Also explains what is shown on a scoreboard.



A soccer ball that has just hit the back of the net

Scoring in soccer, or football as it's known in many parts of the world, is relatively simple compared to some other sports. The aim of the game is to score more goals than the opposing team, and the team with the most goals at the end of the game is declared the winner. Let's take a closer look at how scoring works in soccer.

The basics

Soccer is played with two teams, each consisting of 11 players. The teams play on a rectangular field with a goal at each end. The goalposts are set up at the center of each goal line, with a crossbar connecting them. The aim of the game is to kick the ball into the opposing team's goal to score a point, or goal as it is commonly called.

How to score

A goal is scored in soccer when the ball crosses the goal line and goes into the net. It doesn't matter how the ball gets into the net - it can be kicked, headed, or deflected off any part of the body, including the hands or arms (with some exceptions, which we'll get to later). As long as the ball fully crosses the goal line, a goal is awarded.

The goals on a soccer/football pitch

The referee is responsible for determining whether or not a goal has been scored. In most cases, this is a relatively straightforward decision - if the ball crosses the line and goes into the net, it's a goal. However, there are some situations where the decision can be more difficult, such as when the ball hits the goalpost or crossbar and bounces back into play.

Types of goals

There are two types of goals in soccer - regular goals and own goals.

Regular goals are scored when a player from the attacking team successfully puts the ball into the opposing team's goal.

Own goals are scored when a player from the defending team accidentally puts the ball into their own goal. This can happen if a player tries to clear the ball but it ends up deflecting off their body or if a goalkeeper makes a save that ends up rebounding off one of their own defenders.

Offsides rule

One important rule to keep in mind when it comes to scoring in soccer is the offsides rule. This rule is designed to prevent attacking players from gaining an unfair advantage by hovering in front of the opposing team's goal. This is defined as when they are closer to the opposing team's goal than both the ball and the second-last defender (usually a defender or the goalkeeper).

If an attacking player is in an offside position when a teammate plays the ball forward to them, and they then become involved in active play (such as by touching the ball), the referee will blow the whistle and award a free kick to the defending team.


In soccer, an assist is awarded to the player who makes the final pass or touch before a goal is scored. This is a way of acknowledging the contribution of players who help to create goals.

Penalty kicks

Another way to score in soccer is through penalty kicks. These are awarded when a defending player commits a foul inside their own penalty area. The attacking team is then given a free shot on goal from the penalty spot, which is 12 yards away from the goal line.

The penalty box and the penalty spot on a soccer field

If the ball goes into the net during a penalty kick, a goal is awarded. If the goalkeeper saves the penalty, or if the ball misses the goal, play continues as normal.

What is shown on a scoreboard?

A soccer scoreboard typically shows the current score of the game and the amount of time elapsed in the game. It may also display other information such as the team names, player statistics, substitutions, and any penalties or yellow/red cards given during the game. In some cases, the scoreboard may also display the name of the stadium, the date and time of the game, and the weather conditions.

Using scoreboard software

The easiest way of creating your own scoreboard is to use software combined with existing hardware such as a large TV or a projector. This is a great option for small leagues and teams that don't have the budget to purchase an expensive dedicated scoreboard.

Scoreboard software used to be bought in nicely presented boxes or downloaded for a fee and then installed on your PC. But these days there is a much better solution: web-based online software. Not only do the results look as good (or better) as installed legacy software, there are other clear advantages.

A TV showing an online basketball scoreboard

Introducing is one of the leading solutions for creating online scoreboards. But don't take our word for it, our customers have this to say:

"Wow guys, what a great app, thank you for all your work to get it up and running, I'm using it to stream my son's basketball games in France!" — Vincent

We pride ourselves on being very easy to get started with. You can literally be up and running in under 30 seconds, no registration nor payment required. If you don't believe us, give it a try.

What's very convenient is that you can control your scoreboard from anywhere, including a mobile phone.

Controlling a scoreboard from a mobile phone using a scoreboard app

To read more on how to use and how to set up a scoreboard, check out this article.

Thanks for reading and do leave feedback in the comments below.

Photo by Izuddin Helmi Adnan on Unsplash