A common question asked in regards to soccer is whether can soccer players use their hands?
When playing the sport, it can be tempting to use hands to move the ball.
Especially if you are new and aren’t used to kicking a ball, it can be weird at first.
Unfortunately, the sport soccer was made under the principle and rules that you can only use your feet to move the ball.
While it is a game played primarily at your feet.
There are some instances and situations hands can come into play and are needed within the game.
Now I know it can be not very clear for me to say you can and can’t use your hands.
But this post aims to give you more clarity and explain to you each situation where it’s okay to do so.
So If already you are lost, do not worry as, by the end of this post, you should have a good idea of when it is okay too and not to use your hands.
Table of Contents
When Can Soccer Players Use Their Hands?
A soccer player can handle the football, however only in a few scenarios is it okay to do so.
This section will take you through each of these scenarios where you have the go-ahead to use your hands.
To Take A Throw In
Throw in’s are used to restart play whenever the ball goes out over the sidelines.
Now to restart play, soccer players must do a simple overhead throw to get the ball back into play.
This is a scenario where you do, of course, need to use your hands.
However, since you are throwing from behind the sideline, you are not handling the ball on the pitch.
Goalkeeper Within His Area
Out of the 11 players that are fielded by a team, one of them is a goalkeeper.
Now their job is to stop the ball from going into their teams net and help them do so, they are given the privilege of using their hands.
They are the only player who can handle the ball, pick it up, block or even throw it.
However, the only place they can do all of this is from within their 18-yard box.
Whistle Blown For A Free Kick
While we have established that handling the ball is wrong when the game is active, it is generally okay if the ref stops the game.
Let’s say a player has been tackled illegally, what players tend to do is reach for the football so that the opposition doesn’t waste time by kicking it away.
So if a player has been tripped up, they might handle the ball on the way down to stop any gamesmanship from opponents.
Now, most of the time, if that player is fouled, a free kick is given even if the ball is handled shortly after contact.
The only problem here is that if a player thinks he has been fouled and grabs the ball, the referee thinks otherwise, maybe classes it as a dive.
Then instead, a free kick can be signalled the other way instead of in the direction of the player who thought he was infringed.
To Take A Penalty Kick
Another scenario where a soccer player can handle the ball is to take a penalty kick.
Now for it to be a penalty in the first place, the referee will have made the decision and, as a result, paused the game.
Whether in the 90 minutes or a penalty shootout, the ref will hand over the ball to the player to place it where they want on the spot.
When Can’t Soccer Players Use Their Hands?
Football is a game where your feet are involved 90 per cent of the time. The other 10 per cent of maybe less is for reasons above.
Because of that, there are many situations where a soccer player can’t touch the ball with their hands.
If they do so, especially when the game is in play, a foul will be given for handball.
As a result, a player will either receive a warning or be punished with a yellow or red offence.
How severe the consequences depend on where the foul took place and how deliberate the use of hand was.
Using Your Hand
When the game is in play, a soccer player can’t touch the ball with their hand or arm on purpose.
If it’s done to affect the ball’s direction, then a free-kick at the place of the incident will be given for handball.
Now how handball is determined is if the ball hits any part of your arm from the armpit down.
This includes, of course, your hand.
To Block Shots On Goal
One of the biggest temptations, along with sticking a leg out in the box to knick a loose ball, is to put a hand out to block a shot.
A soccer player is not allowed to block any shot with his hand or arm, even if it’s going directly at him.
If an intentional handball is made, then a free kick or penalty will be given, depending on where the incident occurs.
Now, most of the time, the defending team will get penalised. However, if a shot had been fired from such a short-range that the player would have no chance to move his hand out the way.
Then the referee might give the benefit of the doubt.
However, this can also be counteracted by the fact that if the player has his arm and hand away from his body in an unnatural position, they will be penalised.
As you can imagine, handballs from shots on goals have created many controversial moments in the sport.
One of the biggest incidents that come to mind is Luis Suarez’s handball off the line in 2010.
It was the last minute of extra time, and it was his clearance that stopped what looked to be the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup Quarter Final between his country Uruguay and Ghana.
Normally when an incident like that happens, there is justice. However, this went viral quickly because of how blatant he tried to cheat and that his cheating helped his side.
A few minutes after, the penalty taker missed the crucial penalty, and the 10 men of Uruguay then went through on penalties.
To Push Your Opponents Away
Soccer is a competitive and physical game. However, unlike other sports where you can fend opponents off, it isn’t allowed in soccer.
If you are dribbling with the ball, and someone comes and puts pressure on you, putting a hand out to stop them will likely result in a free kick in the other direction.
The reason for this is in soccer you are not allowed to put your hands in peoples faces, as it can be quite dangerous.
So while using your hand may help you brush a player of easily, it’s not worth it, as it’s an offence in the game that can be punished highly.
For example, if you put your hand out and it catches a player in the face, you will likely be sent off.
This post aims to help you understand the best and only times you can handle the ball or not.
As you can see, when it comes to soccer, if you are not a goalkeeper or taking a throw-in, it’s best to let your feet do the talking.
If you have any questions on using your hands in soccer or anything, don’t hesitate to ask me by dropping them in the comment section below!
See you in the next post!