Similarities And Differences Between Soccer And Basketball

Comparing different sports is often a great idea when you are familiar with one of them and you want to learn about the other one.

It’s also good to compare different sports to learn about what’s unique about each one of them. This is what this article is all about.

I have been a soccer fan for more than a decade. I have watched soccer and I have played it countless times. As for basketball, I have also played a number of games, and I have watched plenty of basketball matches. I’m using my knowledge in both sports to write this article.

So without further ado, here are the similarities and differences between soccer and basketball.

Differences between soccer and basketball

Soccer and basketball can be viewed as extremely different sports by a lot of people, and you might become one of these people as well after learning about the following differences:

1- Handling the ball is completely different between soccer and basketball

As a soccer player, you are allowed to touch the ball with any part of your body except your arms. Only the goalkeeper is allowed to touch the ball with their hands, and they are only allowed to do so inside the penalty area.

This is one of the rules that form the identity of soccer. “No touching please”

Soccer players use their legs to handle the ball on the field, and they also use their other body parts to trap the ball and keep it under their control.

Basketball on the other hand relies on the usage of the arms to score points. It’s like the complete opposite of soccer

In basketball, you use your hands to bounce the ball and advance forward, and you use your arms to throw the ball into the basket to score points.

You aren’t allowed to use your feet purposefully in basketball to handle the ball in any way.

So in simple words, soccer is about kicking the ball while basketball is about throwing the ball.

2- Soccer has a different points system than basketball.

The winner of a soccer game or a basketball game is the team that scores more points during the game.

However, the way these points are calculated is different between the 2 sports.

For example, soccer rewards only a single point per goal no matter how the goal was scored. In terms of points, an overhead kick that ends in a goal is worth as much as an easy penalty kick goal.

It’s that simple in soccer. You score a goal, you get a single point and that’s it.

Basketball rewards a different number of points depending on how you land the ball into the basket.

For example. You either get 2 points or 3 points by scoring a field goal. Whether you get 2 points or 3 points depends on the area that you score from. You also get a single point if you score a free throw.

In other words, basketball rewards a different number of points for different scoring methods, unlike soccer, which only rewards a single point per goal no matter how the goal was scored.

3- Time is measured differently in soccer than in basketball.

In soccer, the timer of the game starts from zero and then goes up. The more interesting fact about the timer in soccer is that it doesn’t stop no matter what happens on the field.

Whether the game is on or not doesn’t matter for the soccer clock. It just keeps going even if the ball is out of play

A few minutes of extra time are used to compensate for the time lost while the ball is out of play, but these minutes usually do not match the number of minutes that are actually wasted during the game.

As for basketball, the timer stops whenever the game stops, and it resumes when the game resumes.

In other words, every single second of the allocated time for a certain basketball game is actually played.

This may result in unpredictable full match durations, but it gives both teams the full time allocated to win the game.

4- Ties are allowed in soccer but not in basketball.

In soccer, many matches can end in a draw. These are usually matches played in table competitions where the team that collects the most number of points wins.

In other words, some soccer games are allowed to end in a draw and each team will win a single point in the competition table.

It’s worth noting that draws aren’t allowed in some soccer games too. For example, a world cup final must have a winner. But in many cases, draws are allowed during a soccer game.

You can learn more about why soccer allows ties from this article.

Basketball on the other hand doesn’t allow ties in general. When a tie takes place in a basketball game, extra time is given until a winner is decided.

Keep in mind that Basketball can afford not allowing ties because ties aren’t very common anyways, and a lot of points are scored within minutes during a basketball game.

Soccer on the other hand has a very small number of goals per game, and thus ties are much more common in soccer than in basketball.

5- Unlike soccer, basketball has timeouts.

Timeouts are allowed in basketball. A basketball couch can ask the referee to stop the game in order for their players to catch their breath and in order for the coach to get a chance to give new instructions to their players based on how the game is going.

This isn’t the case in soccer however. The only time that a soccer coach gets to talk to their players is during halftime and that’s it.

It is usually much more difficult for a soccer coach to make drastic changes in their team during a soccer game because they don’t get a lot of chances to communicate with the players of the team while the game is on.

6- The fields of play and the teams.

Soccer fields are huge. A Soccer field is somewhere between 110 yards – 120 yards in length. The ground of the field is usually made of grass, and 11 players per team play on the field during a soccer game.

Basketball courts are smaller. A basketball court is around 30 yards long. In other words, some soccer fields are more than 3 times bigger than basketball courts. The basketball ground is usually made out of solid wood or plastic, and it is usually shiny.

As you can very easily guess, a smaller field requires that each team has a smaller number of players, or else the whole court will be crowded with players.

Basketball has 5 players per team in general. That’s nearly half the number of players on a soccer team.

7- Soccer players wear different jerseys than basketball players.

The last difference that I want to mention in this article is the uniforms that the players wear. Players from both sports wear cleats, shorts, and a shirt.

However, there are slight differences in each part of these uniforms. For example, soccer players wear t-shirts while basketball players wear sleeveless shirts and so on.

This wraps up some of the differences between soccer and basketball when it comes to the rules, the timing, the dress code and so on.

Similarities between soccer and basketball.

While soccer and basketball are different in a lot of ways, they do share many interesting similarities. Here are some of them

1- Soccer and basketball are team based games

Team based games are more exciting to me in general. I don’t know about you, but I always love watching the way the players collaborate with each other and the way they build their chemistry together.

Both soccer and basketball are team based games. They require high levels of collaboration among the players, and one weak link in the team can affect the performance of the whole team.

2- The ball is the central focus of soccer and basketball

There are a lot of ball based games out there, soccer and basketball are 2 of these games.

In both games, the players are required to collaborate together by passing the ball to each other until they reach their target.

They are also required to grab the ball from their opponent in an organized way when they lose it.

3- Soccer and basketball require some similar skills.

Agility, vision, endurance, running, and so on, are all skills that are absolutely required if you want to be a professional soccer player.

Guess what, these same skills and many others are also required to become a great basketball player.

In other words, soccer and basketball share a number of required skills

For example, agility is required in both sports in order to trick the opponent by making sudden and quick movements. Vision is required in both sports in order to know when to pass the ball to a teammate and how to pass the ball to them, and so on.

4- Teams from both sports assign a team captain.

Team captain” is a thing when it comes to both soccer and basketball.

Almost all professional soccer teams assign a team captain, and this captain identifies themselves on the field by wearing a captain armband. 

A soccer team captain also has some extra duties on the field. For example, they accompany the referee when deciding which side of the field each team will start on during a soccer game.

But what about basketball? Well, basketball teams can also have a team captain. A team captain’s responsibility is to keep their teammates motivated and to push them to do their best.

However, before I end this article, it is worth mentioning that not all teams assign a team captain in basketball. It’s usually up to the teams themselves to decide whether they want to select one of their players as team captain or not.


Both soccer and basketball are extremely popular sports all over the world. 

It’s true that in certain areas around the world, one is more popular than the other, but the overall popularity of both sports is undeniably massive.

With that said, enjoy both sports, and play both sports because each one of them has its own benefits to your body and to your mind.