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What is an Assist in Soccer?

Even if you’re not a soccer player, you undoubtedly understand the concept of a goal. It’s essentially the fundamental objective of soccer—to secure a goal.

However, there’s a pivotal statistic that often goes unnoticed—the soccer assist. But does this statistic genuinely impact the outcome of matches? That’s the question we’re here to address.

Is Soccer Assist a Useful Stat?

A soccer assist is granted when a pass directly leads to a goal. The player responsible for making the pass, whether intentional or accidental, is credited with the assist.

Game statisticians employ this metric to identify the pass that contributed to the goal. Although it is now officially recognized by governing bodies, this hasn’t always been the case.

The process of recording this metric lacks a universal standard. It isn’t a component of the official Laws of the Game (LOTG). Consequently, the practice of awarding assists for a pass isn’t consistent across all contexts. In fact, the recording of assists is a relatively recent development.

Until 1994, tracking assists wasn’t included in the official statistics of any soccer match. It was in that year when FIFA officially introduced the stat into the game’s records.

What is an Assist in Soccer?


As mentioned earlier, a soccer assist pertains to the pass directly leading to a goal.

Even if the scorer engaged in dribbling, encountered a tackle, or maneuvered past a defender before scoring, the pass would still be considered an assist as long as it was the final pass to the scorer. This introduces an element of inconsistency in assessing the value of soccer assists.

Soccer assists don’t hold uniform significance. Certain assists hold greater importance than others, but evaluating these distinctions using a solitary statistic is challenging.

What Counts as an Assist in Soccer?

An assist in soccer encompasses any pass leading to a goal.

Regarding the rule, there exists no time limit on how long the scorer can possess the ball before the assist is counted. As long as the pass results in a goal, it qualifies as an assist.

For instance, if I pass you the ball and you retain possession for 20 minutes prior to scoring a goal, that would still qualify as an assist.

However, if the ball is intercepted, altering its trajectory, the assist wouldn’t be credited, even if the intended recipient of the ball eventually scores a goal.

Assists are also granted to players who provoke a handball from an opponent through a pass, shot, or final touch.

Interpretations of a soccer assist can vary among different organizations, potentially leading to inflated assist numbers in certain leagues.

Is Winning a Penalty an Assist?


In the case of a penalty or free-kick, the player who earns the penalty or free-kick is credited with an assist if it leads to a goal. However, if the player himself scores the goal, no assist is attributed.

It’s important to note that players cannot receive assists for their own goals.

What are Second Assists in Soccer?

The second assist, as you might expect, involves a pass that comes just one step before the primary assist.

This recognition is given to the player who sets up the player that then provides the decisive pass leading to the goal.

This statistic, the second assist, is not often prominently tracked and visible. Even primary assists aren’t always recorded as frequently as desired, making the second assist metric quite rare to encounter.

Many voices within the soccer community are advocating for the inclusion of second assists in the statistics. This step, in my viewpoint, moves in the right direction by allowing fans and analysts to better understand the collective contributions of players towards their team’s goals.

What’s the Point of Counting Soccer Assists?


In today’s game, characterized by its emphasis on analytics and efficiency, monitoring a range of metrics has become crucial to assess individual player performance.

Having data is essential to truly understand the impact of each player. Therefore, statistics like assists and second assists were introduced to identify the players who played a role in creating goals. These quantitative metrics provide a tangible representation of a player’s contribution.

While not a flawless measure, it does offer a glimpse into a player’s involvement. Consider it as a way to acknowledge a player’s role – if they successfully set up a teammate for a goal, shouldn’t they receive recognition for their contribution?

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