How Soccer Works.


64 pages
Contains Photos, Index
ISBN 978-1-897349-01-4
DDC j796.334





Illustrations by Stephen MacEachern
Reviewed by John Walker

John Walker is a professor of Spanish at Queen’s University.


Toronto-based Keltie Thomas, former editor of Owl magazine for children, has previously channelled her interest in sports and science into books like Blades, Boards, and Scooters, How Hockey Works, How Baseball Works, and How Basketball Works. Here she turns her attention to the beautiful and increasingly popular soccer, the only true universal sport.


How Soccer Works is a bright, peppy, colourful publication that reveals again Thomas’s interest in sport and science. Written specifically for the young reader, the style is perky, gushing, and breathless, with lots of CAPITAL letters and exclamation marks. I am sure that the response of the kids will be positive, cool, and awesome, for this entertaining book instructs as it delights. It is full of valuable information and facts, presented in an attractive manner, with wonderful colour illustrations by Stephen MacEachern. The text is divided into eight chapters dealing with the historical origins of the game right up to the present day concern with marketing soccer gear. What is different in this volume is her knowledge of the scientific evolution and development of the paraphernalia of the game, beginning with the basic necessity, the soccer ball (Chapter 1). Chapter 2 deals with the function of the soccer field, for example, the turf as it is affected by weather and temperature. Chapter 3 describes the evolution of uniforms (shirts, socks, shorts), plus goalkeeper’s gear, all of this so important in today’s marketing scene. Chapter 4 provides a fascinating detailed history of the development of soccer boots/shoes/cleats, from the primitive clunkers of the past to the sleek, sophisticated, expensive shoes of the present. Chapter 5 treats the physical side of the game, the body, fitness, injuries, diet, as well as the psychological. Chapter 6 illustrates techniques of shooting, passing, heading, dribbling, and bending (like Beckham) the new balls. Chapter 7 concentrates on soccer drills, like 1 v 1 between striker and goalie, with tips for both sets of players, attackers and defenders. In the concluding Chapter 8, “The World’s Game,” the author explains the different styles of the various top countries, for example, the English long ball, the Dutch total soccer, Brazil’s attacking soccer, and Italy’s defensive soccer.


Lest all of this sounds too didactic, it should be stated that every page is full of colourful drawings, figures, photos, and other features like “Legends of the Game,” tips, stories, little bios etc. This fascinating book is rounded out by a table of rules and regulations, a soccer glossary, and a full index. Highly recommended.


Thomas, Keltie., “How Soccer Works.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 28, 2024,