Assists In Soccer: Everything You Need To Know

We all know what a goal is in soccer, but an assist? What’s that exactly?

An assist is a term that you will hear a lot if you are a FIFA player or if you are a soccer fan. 

If you have no idea what an assist is (like I did when I first started showing an interest in soccer), then you’ve come to the right place. You’ll find everything you need to know about assists in this tiny article

What is an assist in soccer?

An assist in soccer is a pass that leads to a goal. A player makes an assist when they pass the ball to another player who immediately scores a goal afterwards. In this case, the player who made the pass ‘assisted’ in scoring a goal. Assists can sometimes be unintentional, and they will still be counted.

The number of assists that each player makes is counted throughout the whole soccer season. Usually the player with the most number of assists wins an award at the end of the season.

But what’s the point of calculating the number of assists a soccer player makes?

Well, calculating data about anything is generally important. 

In the case of soccer, calculating data about the player’s performances can help the coaches and the players optimize their methods of playing the game and that can make soccer more and more entertaining to the audience.

The number of assists made by the playmaker can be used as a metric to know how good the playmaker is.

If a player’s job is to make critical passes and put their teammates in a good position to score, then it makes sense to measure how many times the playmaker was able to do what they were supposed to do.

Awarding the players with the most number of assists at the end of every season is also a great way to keep the playmakers motivated and to make them push themselves every year in order to win the award.

Before we move on to the next section, it’s worth noting that counting the number of assists isn’t an old tradition. Assists are relatively new to the soccer world. There was a time when assists weren’t even measured at all.

However, assists have become more and more important these days, and more leagues are introducing awards and trophies for the players with the highest number of assists in each season.

What counts as an assist in soccer?

Before I answer this question, I should mention that counting the number of assists is not part of the laws of the game.

Since assists aren’t an essential part of the game, there isn’t a set of global rules that define when an assist should be counted.

In other words, different associations have slight variations when it comes to the rules that decide whether an assist counts or not, but there are a lot of common rules among these associations.

In general, a pass that leads to a goal counts as an assist in soccer, even if the goal scorer had to touch the ball more than once to score. A deflected kick also counts as an assist if another player scored a goal after the ball was deflected.

To explain the deflected kick assist simpler. Let’s say that you kicked the ball towards your opponent’s goal, but the goal got deflected because it hit either a defender or the goalkeeper or the woodwork.

If another player on your team receives the deflected ball and immediately scores a goal, then you get an assist. However, note that for you to get the assist, your kick should be aimed towards scoring a goal and not just crossing the ball or passing the ball to someone else.

Before we move on to the next question, let’s talk about direct assist for a little bit. 

Let’s say that you passed the ball to the goal scorer, but the ball slightly hit one of the opponent players before it reached the goal scorer, does the pass still count as an assist? 

Yes it does, because your initial target for the pass was the player who ended up scoring the goal. If the pass was clearly meant to another player, then you don’t get the assist.

Will the assist be counted if the goal scorer touches the ball multiple times?

It’s alright for the goal scorer to touch the ball multiple times before they score, the assist will still count as long as the goal scorer does not lose the ball and then gain it back later.

The moment the goal scorer loses the ball, the assist will also be lost. However, if the goal scorer doesn’t lose the ball after the pass, then the assist is counted even if the goal scorer had to dribble past a defender to score.

Is winning a penalty an assist?

Some soccer associations count winning a penalty kick as an assist while other associations do not count it as an assist. The same thing applies for free kicks. In other words, whether a penalty kick is an assist or not depends on what soccer league you have in mind.

The Fantasy Premier League for example counts winning a penalty kick as an assist, while some other organizations do not.

But what exactly does “winning a penalty” mean in this context?

In simple words, if a player was fouled inside the penalty box, then they are considered the player who won the penalty kick.

But it doesn’t end here. If a player causes their opponent to touch the ball with their hands inside the penalty area, then they are also considered winners of the penalty.

If the penalty converts to a goal, some soccer organizations will count an assist to the player who won the penalty while other organizations will not.

Can you assist yourself in soccer?

You can’t assist yourself in soccer. In other words, you can’t earn both a goal and an assist at the same time. For example, let’s say that you are the player who won the penalty kick for your team. If you were also the player to score the penalty kick, then you won’t get an assist.

The same thing applies for a direct free kick. If you were the player who won and scored the direct free kick, then you don’t get an assist.

You simply can’t make an assist to yourself in soccer. It won’t count.

What are second assists in soccer?

A second assist or a secondary assist is an assist to the player who made the assist. This sounds weird but it’s actually simple.

If you pass the ball to your teammate, and your teammate then passes the ball to a player who then scores a goal, then it means that you have made a second assist or a secondary assist.

Secondary assists aren’t as popular as the regular assists, however, they are measured by some organizations.

There are some organizations that even count the second assist as a regular assist. In other words, they allow 2 assists to be counted for a single goal.

But how is that exactly? Well, let’s say that you have crossed the ball towards the penalty area. If one of your teammates (let’s call them Anna) hits the ball with their head, and the ball reaches another teammate who then heads the ball and scores a goal.

Then you and Anna both get an assist since your pass was also a critical part of the build up for the goal.

But remember that giving 2 assists for the same goal is not universal and it is only a thing in certain soccer leagues and not in all of them.

With that said, I will end my article here. Here’s a quick summary of what you have read


An assist in soccer is a pass that leads to a goal. Assists are a good way to measure the performance of playmakers and to reward them for their great efforts.

Since the official laws of the game do not require tracking the number of assists, the rules of defining what an assist is vary among the different soccer organizations. However, there are many rules that are common among all of these organizations.