Are you wondering what the handball rules in soccer are? Simply, a handball is a common foul that occurs when a player’s hand or arm touches the ball.
Key Takeaways From This Article:
- By rule, not all soccer balls that hit the hand are considered handballs.
- Players can legally use their shoulders to hit the soccer ball.
- Depending on the situation, a handball could result in a free kick, yellow card, or red card.
The handball rule is enforced to prevent players from using their hands to control the ball, which would give them an unfair advantage over their opponents.
However, the rules surrounding handball in soccer can be quite complex, leading to confusion and disagreement among players, coaches, parents, and fans.
In this article, I’ll cover everything you’ll need to know about a handball in soccer.
This will help you make your point on the sideline with other parents (not that you need to prove your knowledge of the game).
What Part of the Arm is Considered a Hand Ball?
In soccer, handball is a foul where a player intentionally touches the ball with their hand or arm, between the tips of their fingers and the bottom of their shoulder.
Touching the ball with the shoulder is not a handball and unintentional contact between the ball and hand is not a handball.
According to the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the arm is any part below the bottom of your armpit.
Types of Handball
There are two types of handball in soccer: deliberate and accidental.
A deliberate handball occurs when a player intentionally touches the ball with their hand or arm.
An accidental handball occurs when a player touches the ball with their hand or arm without intending to do so.
The Rules of Handball in Soccer
When it comes to handball in soccer, there are a few basic rules that you need to know.
These rules are in place to ensure fair play and to prevent players from gaining an unfair advantage over their opponents.
Rule 1: What is a Handball?
A handball occurs when a player touches the ball with their hand or arm. However, not all instances of handball are considered a foul.
According to the rules, a handball is only a foul if the player intentionally touches the ball with their hand or arm, or if they make their body unnaturally bigger by extending their arm or hand.
Rule 2: When is a Handball a Foul?
If a player commits a handball foul, the opposing team is awarded a free-kick or penalty kick depending on the location of the foul.
It’s important to note that handball fouls can occur anywhere on the field, not just within the penalty area.
Rule 3: Exceptions to the Handball Rule
There are exceptions to this rule. Here are some of them…
- If the ball accidentally touches the hand or arm of a player
- If a player is using their arm to protect their face or body
- If the soccer ball hits a player’s arm after it has deflected off another player or object
- If a player’s arm is in a natural position, such as when running or jumping, and the ball touches their arm
Read the above again. This is where many parents and coaches get mixed up. A handball is not always a violation!
Rule 4: The Shoulder is Not Considered a Handball
Finally, it’s important to note that the shoulder is not considered a part of the arm when it comes to handball fouls.
If the ball hits a player’s shoulder, it’s not considered a handball, even if the player’s arm is in an unnatural position.
What Happens After a Handball in Soccer?
When a player commits a handball offense in soccer, several consequences can occur. Here are some of the most common:
- Free Kick or Penalty Kick: The opposing team is awarded a free kick or penalty kick, depending on where the offense occurred on the field. If the offense happens inside the penalty area, the opposing team is awarded a penalty kick.
- Yellow Card: If the handball offense was intentional or the player’s arm was in an unnatural position, the player committing the offense may receive a yellow card from the referee.
- Red Card: If the handball offense was intentional and denied a clear goal-scoring opportunity, the player committing the offense may receive a red card from the referee and be sent off the field.
The severity of the offense and the resulting consequences depend on a variety of factors, including the intent of the player, the position of their arm, and the location of the offense on the field.
Referee’s Discretion (The Gray Area)
When it comes to handball rules in soccer, referees have a certain level of discretion. While there are clear guidelines provided by IFAB, there are still situations where the referee must use their judgment to determine if a handball has occurred.
For example, if a player is in a natural position and the ball strikes their hand or arm, it may not be considered a handball. However, if a player intentionally moves their hand or arm to the ball, it will likely be called as a handball.
Another factor that referees consider is whether or not the player gained an advantage by handling the ball.
If a player’s handball prevents the opposing team from scoring, it will likely be called as a handball.
However, if the handball did not affect the outcome of the game, the referee may choose not to call it.
Honestly, in youth soccer, almost all balls that hit the hand or lower arm are called by the referee.
Not knowing the exact rules, most parents will shout on the sidelines when a ball comes close to hitting a player’s arm. I feel like the referee is under instant pressure to blow his or her whistle. And, they do.
What Happens if the Ref Doesn’t See a Handball?
If the referee doesn’t see a handball offense, play will continue as normal. This is always true for youth, high school, and college soccer games. This is why it’s important to play the whistle.
However, in a professional match, if the opposing team protests the decision, the referee may consult with the assistant referees or video assistant referees (VAR) to determine if a handball offense occurred.
If the VAR determines that a handball offense did occur, the referee may award a free kick or penalty kick to the opposing team.
Handball rules in soccer are an essential aspect of the game that distinguishes it from other sports.
I realize when handballs occur in youth soccer, it can demoralizing but it doesn’t have to be. It’s just part of the game.
Players, coaches, and officials need to understand the laws of the game and the various situations in which handball can occur to ensure fair play and accurate calls on the field!
Frequently Asked Questions
The handball rule in soccer states that a player is not allowed to touch the ball with their hand or arm intentionally. If this does occur, a referee may award the opposition a free kick or penalty kick.
No, it is not a handball in soccer if the ball hits your shoulder. The rules state that the handball offense occurs when a player touches the ball with their hand or arm.
If the handball is deemed to be a deliberate attempt to deny a goal-scoring opportunity, the player could receive a red card. If the handball is deliberate or the player gains an advantage from the handball, then the player may receive a yellow card.
Unintentional handball in the penalty box occurs when a player touches the ball with their hand or arm, but it is not deliberate. In this situation, the referee may decide whether or not to award a penalty kick based on the player’s proximity to the ball, the speed of the ball, and the position of the player’s arm.
A ball that hits a player’s elbow is sometimes called a foul. If the ball hits a player’s elbow or arm accidentally or if the arm is in a natural position and not making the body bigger, then it is usually not considered a handball offense. However, if the player’s arm is in an unnatural position or they deliberately use their arm to control the ball, then it is considered a handball offense and a foul may be called.