In sports, a goal is a physical structure or area where an attacking team must send the ball or puck in order to score points. In several sports, a goal is the sole method of scoring, and thus the final score is expressed in the total number of goals scored by each team. In other sports, a goal may be one of several scoring methods, and thus may be worth a different set number of points than the others.
The structure of a goal varies from sport to sport. Most often, it is a rectangular structure that is placed at each end of the playing field. Each structure usually consists of two vertical posts, called goal posts, supporting a horizontal crossbar. A goal line marked on the playing surface between the goal posts demarcates the goal area. Thus, the objective is to send the ball or puck between the goal posts, under or over the crossbar (depending on the sport), and across the goal line. Less commonly, as in basketball or netball, goals are ring-shaped. The structure is often accompanied with an auxiliary net, which stops or slows down the ball when a goal is scored.
In association football (known in Australia, Canada and the United States as soccer), the goal is the only method of scoring. It is also used to refer to the scoring structure. An attempt on goal is referred to as a "shot". To score a goal, the ball must pass completely over the goal line between the goal posts and under the crossbar and no rules may be violated on the play (such as touching the ball with the hand or arm).
The goal structure is defined as a frame 24 feet (7.32 m) wide by 8 feet (2.44 m) tall. In most organized levels of play a net is attached behind the goal frame to catch the ball and indicate that a goal has been scored; but the Laws of the Game do not mandate the use of a net and only require that any net used not interfere with the goalkeeper.
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