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Can You Grab in Soccer?

Can You Grab in Soccer?

When I watch training sessions and games, I’m seeing more kids grab and pull jerseys or the body to get the ball. This typically starts happening at U14 and becomes progressively prevalent as the players get older.

So, can you grab in soccer? The short answer is no, you cannot grab an opponent in soccer. The reason you can’t grab someone’s jersey is that it impedes a player’s progress.

Let’s dive in it some more.

Basic Holding Rules of Soccer

When players hold another player during a game, it is considered a ‘holding foul’. A holding foul is when one player uses their body to make contact with and restrain their opponent from making natural progress. 


Holding can be grabbing a jersey and/or body part with your hands, arms, or legs.

At the same time, pushing an opponent with an outstretched arm is considered a foul and could be penalized with a yellow card depending on the severity.

If you do go into close contact with an opponent, be sure to use your shoulders. Going shoulder-to-shoulder with an opponent is legal and a great technique to ‘push’ a player off the ball.

What is the Result of a Holding Foul?

If an official sees a player committing a holding penalty, they will award the opposition with a direct free kick. The kick is given where the penalty occurred.

Where’s the worst place to commit a holding penalty? Inside the penalty box. In this case, the offensive team is awarded a penalty kick.

If a player is thrown down to the ground with excessive force, the guilty player may receive a yellow or red card. This is never good for a team and may result in a shift in momentum.

Some Holding Examples I’ve Seen

I watch a lot of youth soccer and here are some examples of holding situations:

  • A defensive player steals the ball and the offensive player retaliates by grabbing the opposition’s jersey.
  • On a corner kick, a player grabs another player so they can’t jump.
  • A defender is trailing an offensive player down the field. The defender starts grabbing the back of the attacking player’s jersey.

Final Thoughts

Now you know that you can’t grab in soccer. It seems pretty obvious but does need a little explanation sometimes.

What should you do instead of grabbing an opponent? Don’t rely on your hands. Instead, use your skills and shoulder to drive your opponent off the ball.

Look to play quicker and beat your opponent to the spot. Try your best to keep them in front of you and when you see an opportunity to steal the ball…you attack with your leg and body in that split second.

At the end of the day, don’t try to grab your opponent. Beat them in other ways!

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      Beau Bridges - Soccer Novo Hey 👋 I’m Beau. A proud Dad, former coach and soccer enthusiast. I continue to love the game of soccer today the same way I did when I was 7. I created to share what I know about the game as well as provide a platform so other parents can learn more about youth soccer in the U.S.

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