What Is An Assist In Soccer?

There are so many different terms in soccer that keeping up with them all can cause a real headache, especially if you’re new to the soccer scene.

There are free kicks, penalty kicks, throw-ins, corners, the offside rule, fouls, yellow cards, red cards. And the list just goes on and on and on. 

What Is An Assist In Soccer?

So for a second let’s take it back to basics and talk about goals. You probably already know what a goal is, but just to be sure, let me explain it. It is basically the whole principle of the entire game.

Two teams battle it out on the field with the objective of getting the ball into the opposing team’s goal. A goal, short and simple, is when they get the ball in the net and score. Easy, right?

Now, something that goes along with goals is an assist. This won’t actually affect the game in play. It’s not something that would stop or start play for example. But instead, it is more of a metric or statistic used to rate the players on the field.

If a player passes the ball which then results in a goal being scored, it is known as an assist. This player has assisted the goal scorer. 

Still with me? In this article, we’ll go into assists in a little more detail so keep reading! 

Is Soccer Assist A Useful Stat? 

A soccer assist, as I mentioned earlier, isn’t something that will directly affect a match. It doesn’t stop play, it doesn’t result in anything. Instead, it is used as a metric to gauge the talent of players essentially.

It allows a better overview of how the players are playing during the match and gives credit to those who contributed to the scored goal. 

The only problem with assists is that they are still relatively new to the game. They only really started getting recorded by Fifa during the mid-90s and it is still not a standardized metric. In fact, it’s not even mentioned in the official Laws of the Game. 

So while they do help to show the other members of the team that are responsible for the goal, there is still much to be improved. For example, not all assists are the exact same.

Some show more promise or talent than others but there is no process in place currently to distinguish the varying level of assists. 

What Is An Assist In Soccer? 

So, as I mentioned above, a soccer assist refers to a pass that resulted in a goal. 

But this pass doesn’t have to be intentional. It is simply the last pass before a goal is scored. So say a player is running for goal, gets tackled, and the ball ends up at the foot of a teammate who then scores, that is still classified as a goal assist.

Obviously, it can be intentional too. So if a player kicks the ball to a teammate who has just run into space and they score, then that is an assist too. 

What Is An Assist In Soccer?

What Counts As An Assist In Soccer? 

So, you may be wondering what counts as an assist. Obviously, I’ve explained it above but there are a lot of different scenarios that can play out on the soccer field. In fact, no two games are ever exactly the same. 

Well, basically as long as that last pass ends in a goal – it counts. 

There aren’t really many conditions to an assist. So let’s look at time as an example. Say a player passes the ball to a teammate and they spend the next thirty minutes with the ball at their foot until they finally score, that passing player still gets the assist.

They still engaged in that final pass which meant that player could score. 

The only time that this isn’t the case is when the ball is intercepted by the opposing team and the direction of the ball is altered. 

Assists are also given to players that draw a handball from their opponent with their pass, shot, or their last touch of the ball. 

However, because assists aren’t standardized universally across the board, you may find that some organizations interpret assists differently from others. 

Does Winning A Penalty Count As An Assist

It can do. So the way that it works for penalties and free kicks is that if a player earns the penalty or free kick and it results in a goal that they didn’t take then it is an assist.

If a player wins a penalty or free kick and takes it themselves, they will be attributed the goal but not an assist. This is because you can’t win a goal assist if you are the goal scorer yourself. 

If a player wins a penalty or free kick which is missed or saved and does not result in a goal, then the player that won the kick will not receive an assist. 

Final Thoughts

So, as you have learned today, assists are essentially a metric that is used to gauge the effectiveness of the players on the pitch. The more goals, or goal assists that you gain, the more effective and talented you are as a player. 

At least, in theory. As we have also learned today, while the premise of an assist may be fairly simple, standardizing it isn’t all that easy.

An assist is an assist, there aren’t varying degrees of them which can make basing the players off them a little difficult. For example, an accidental assist is awarded in the same way as an intentional one.

And that doesn’t really highlight the talent level between players effectively. 

With that being said though, it is still a fairly new concept, and it is a good place to start. It does allow players that are making goal-scoring opportunities possible to get some well-deserved recognition and credit. 

Adrian Turner
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