Under the Laws, the two basic states of play during a game are ball in play and ball out of play. From the beginning of each playing period with a kick-off (a set kick from the centre-spot by one team) until the end of the playing period, the ball is in play at all times, except when either the ball leaves the field of play, or play is stopped by the referee. When the ball becomes out of play, play is restarted by one of eight restart methods, the method used depending on the reason for the ball going out of play:

  1. Kick-off: following a goal by the opposing team, or to begin each period of play.
  2. Throw-in: when the ball has wholly crossed the touchline; awarded to opposing team to that which last touched the ball.
  3. Goal kick: when the ball has wholly crossed the goal line without a goal having been scored and having last been touched by an attacker; awarded to defending team.
  4. Corner kick: when the ball has wholly crossed the goal line without a goal having been scored and having last been touched by a defender; awarded to attacking team.
  5. Indirect free kick: awarded to the opposing team following "non-penal" fouls, certain technical infringements, or when play is stopped to caution/send-off an opponent without a specific foul having occurred.
  6. Direct free kick: awarded to fouled team following certain listed "penal" fouls.
  7. Penalty kick: awarded to the fouled team following a "penal" foul occurring in their opponent's penalty area.
  8. Dropped-ball: occurs when the referee has stopped play for any other reason (e.g., a serious injury to a player, interference by an external party, or a ball becoming defective).