Entries related to Law 15 – Throw In


September 8, 2009

I have been told that the flip throw in is illegal. The only documentation I have found to support this is on page 128 of the 2009-2010 Laws of the Game of the fifa website. This is what it says:

“If the ball touches the ground before entering the field of play, the throw-in is retaken by the same team from the same position provided that it was taken in line with the correct procedure. If the throw-in is not taken in line with the correct procedure, it is retaken by the opposing team.”

If a player tries the flip throw and the ball touches the ground in the process of delivering the ball, they simply retake with a “normal” throw. Is this correct?

USSF answer (September 8 2009):
No, none of the above applies in this case. Whoever told you the flip throw-in is illegal has likely been abusing illegal substances.

The text you refer to, part of the 2009/2010 Interpretations of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees, means that the throw-in is retaken by the opposing team if the ball, after being released by the thrower, touches the ground before entering the field of play. It has nothing to do with the flip throw-in, referred to by the IFAB and FIFA as the “acrobatic throw-in,” which is perfectly legal if performed in accordance with the requirements of Law 15.


August 10, 2009


In a recent game a player was spinning the ball and not actually throwing from above and *behind* the head. Spinners only throw from above the head and perhaps slightly back and are therefore able to place their dominant hand more behind the ball. It is difficult to get so much spin on a ball thrown properly from behind the head.

How far back is “over and behind the head”?

Since a ball spinning that much is harder to control do referees consider it a wash?

USSF answer (August 10, 2009):
There is no rule that the ball may not “spin” when thrown.  Complete requirements for the throw-in are spelled out in Law 15 (The Throw-In) in the Laws of the Game.

At the moment of delivering the ball, the thrower:
* faces the field of play
* has part of each foot either on the touch line or on the ground outside the touch line
* holds the ball with both hands
* delivers the ball from behind and over his head
* delivers the ball from the point where it left the field of play

All opponents must stand no less than 2 m (2 yds) from the point at which the throw-in is taken.
The ball is in play when it enters the field of play.

After delivering the ball, the thrower must not touch the ball again until it has touched another player.

And the referee is the sole judge as to whether or not this procedure has been followed.


July 22, 2009


I am wondering about center referee mechanics for throw-in. I am getting feedback from referees that they have heard instructors tell them center referees should signal a throw-in with a 90 degree arm signal, rather than the 45 degree arm signal. They are being told to watch the MLS referees. Is this a change to referee mechanics?

USSF answer (July 22, 2009):
When in doubt, follow the instructions in the Guide to Procedures.  The referee “Points 45 degrees upward to indicate direction of throw-in.”


July 14, 2009


During an over 40’s mens’ recreational league match this weekend, there were 2 issues that another referee who is an assessor, told me I did incorrectly that surprised me.

1. During a throw-in, the player raised the ball just above his head and threw it in. Since law 15 states that the thrower delivers the ball from behind the head, I awarded a throw-in to the other team. After some discussion, it does raise the question, how far behind the head does the ball need to go before being a legal throw in?

2. During play near mid-field, a blue team player kicks a hard ball at close range (about 2 yards) from the white player who is running toward the ball. The white team’s player, in a flinch reaction, puts his hand up to protect his face and the ball hits his hand. He does not direct the ball after the contact. At the time, I did not consider it deliberate, and let play continue. This “no call” decision was based on the Advice to Referees as well as the 2009 Referee Program Directive on Handling the Ball, Part 4, where it talks about a purely instinctive reaction to protect sensitive areas of the body. This is consistent with the Advice to Referees. The other referee told me that not only should I have called handling, I should have given a yellow card because he considered it a tactical foul. I believe that it was neither a foul nor a misconduct.

USSF answer (July 14, 2009):
1. Referees need to remember that, in addition to the Letter of the Law, they need to be in tune with the Spirit of the Laws.  A throw-in is simply a way of restarting the game.  The decision on how far behind the head the thrower must bring the ball is a matter for the referee to decide.  While the requirements of Law 15 are pretty specific, not bringing the ball fully “behind” the head is a relatively trivial infringement of those requirements.

2. Many referees have yet to learn that refereeing is not a case of “us” against “them,” but a matter of finding the best solution to a problem by balancing the Letter and the Spirit of the Law.  As you describe the situation, and remembering the sources you have cited, we believe that you reached the correct decision in this case.

Player A1 takes a throw in from the spot designated by the Referee/AR.  A foul throw in is observed by the referee but the ball did not enter the field of play, that is, the ball did not break the plane of the touchline.

The throw in was not executed properly and the opponents (team B) argued they should be entitled to the throw in.  But the ball never entered the field of play so the side originally entitled to the throw in (team A) argued they should still be entitled to the throw in because the ball did not enter the field.

What is the proper restart?

USSF answer (July 14, 2009):
The other team was correct; they get the throw-in.

This from the Interpretations of the Laws of the Game and Guide to Referees (2009/2010):
If the ball touches the ground before entering the field of play, the throw-in is retaken by the same team from the same position provided that it was taken in line with the correct procedure. If the throw-in is not taken in line with the correct procedure, it is retaken by the opposing team.

This question has come up three times in the last 5 weeks of our adult amateur soccer league play. Each time, there has been controversy over the re-start, so we are submitting this to the “experts” for final adjudication in writing.

Red Team player #1 is taking a throw-in in accordance with Law 15.

Blue Team player #2 decides to move to a position where he is standing in front of the thrower, clearly less than 2 yards away.

Before the Referee can warn Blue player #2 to move back, the ball is thrown in by Red player #1, and the Referee blows his whistle to caution Blue player #2 for Failure to Respect the 2 yard Distance on the throw-in.

In reading the new FIFA Laws of the Game (on page 125), we believe that play is restarted with a throw-in for the Red Team. This appeared to the correct restart and was the restart employed in each of the three games. This past weekend, two Assessors and an Instructor (along with many other referees) proclaimed that the correct restart should be an Indirect Free Kick. The logic given was that the ball had already crossed the plane of the Touch Line so it should be deemed to be “in play”.

It appears to me that the restart for this “Failure to Respect the Distance” violation should be treated the same as any other. If there were a “FRD” violation on a corner kick, we would re-take the corner kick. If there were a “FRD” violation on a direct free kick, we would re-take the direct free kick.

What is the correct restart for a “FRD” violation, for which a yellow card is shown, on a Throw-in?

USSF answer (April 28, 2009):
The correct restart in this case is a retake of the throw-in. The ball was not in play when the infringement occurred. The Advice to Referees makes it very clear that failure to withdraw the required distance on a throw-in (or a corner kick) is to be handled the same way as would be the case on a free kick.

The following two clips are generating a lot of discussion among some referee groups. The two clips are very similar and seem to have the same issues.

How should the referee address these situations?

USSF answer (April 19, 2009):
Note for clarity in answer:
Situation 1 = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVAD8Zl5ngg&NR=1 (White throw)
Situation 2 = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewqy5EDrenw&NR=1 (Blue throw)

You indicate that these games are being played at college level. We could not possibly comment on how the game is officiated under NCAA rules, but, if these games were being played under the Laws of the Game, we could say several things about the acts of the throwers and the opponents and the officiating itself.

First, players at this level know the tactics of their opponents, especially of the throw-in specialists, and in these two games they were seeking to negate the thrower’s skills by placing a player at a spot to interfere with the thrower’s ability to gain distance. In addition, there is the added element of coaching: In the game (Situation 1) in which the White player throws the ball at the Blue player, one can clearly hear the coach telling the Blue player to “Move up, move up!” The coach is obviously asking his player to distract and impede the thrower.

Nevertheless, we cannot condone the tactics of the throwers in either situation. In both cases, the throwers have committed violent conduct and must be sent off. Note in Situation 1 that in the second throw-in the thrower elevates his throw so as to miss the Blue opponent, as well as a coach or other person advising the Blue player to cover his face.

Second, although it is not required at a throw-in, the referee and the AR could have been proactive and moved the player who was attempting to unfairly impede the thrower back the required two meters from the point of the throw-in. (The referee could, in addition to sending-off the throwers, have cautioned the opponents for unsporting behavior, but that would depend on factors not in evidence in these clips.)

We are puzzled by several aspects of officiating in the first situation: Play is stopped following the ball in the face.  For what?  If the whistle was blown for a “serious injury” to the opponent but the throw was deemed good and legal, then (a) the opponent should have been required to leave the field and the restart should have been a dropped ball.  If play was stopped because the throw was deemed legal but striking occurred, then the restart (after a red card for the thrower) should have been a direct free kick.  If play was stopped because the opponent failed to respect the required distance, only then could the throw-in be retaken but again the opponent should have been cautioned.  (And it is likely that the opponent would have been struck in the face even if he had been the required distance away.)

in both cases, the matter should have handled in accordance with 15.8 of the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:

A throw-in taken in such a way that the ball strikes an opponent is not by itself a violation of the Law. The act must be evaluated separately as a form of striking and dealt with appropriately if judged to be unsporting behavior (caution) or violent conduct (send off from the field). In either event, if deemed a violation, the restart is located at the place where the throw-in struck the opponent. If the throw-in is deemed to have been taken incorrectly, the correct restart is a throw-in.


April 17, 2009

On a throw in by the blue team, a blue teammate, with an opponent right behind him/her, in anticipation of the ball’s receipt, turns just as the ball is thrown to a place behind and to the side, making contact with the opponent and “pushes off” the opponent with his/her body then runs onto the ball. The player does a “quick turn” with the clear intention of pushing off the opponent with the shoulder or body to seemingly gain an advantage. Comments? Is it all fair in love and soccer or is there a more nefarious
I asked my husband’s niece who uses this play and she said that she is coached to do this. They want someone right behind them so they can use this tactic to their advantage.

USSF answer (April 17, 2009):
Turn about is NOT fair play in this case. If this happens before the ball is released, the throw-in, if subsequently completed, is taken again and the thrower’s teammate should be warned not to repeat this action. If he or she persists in this behavior, the correct remedy is to caution the player for unsporting behavior and retake the throw-in. If this happens after the ball is released, stop play and restart with a direct free kick for the opposing team from the place where the infringement occurred.


March 30, 2009

I have a question that I’m hoping that you can answer on both a practical basis, and a historical basis.

If the lines are part of the area that they surround, and the ball is out of play when the whole ball crosses the whole line, then why is it that a player can stand on the line while taking a throw-in? It doesn’t seem to make any sense. I would think that if the ball is out of play over the touch line, that the thrower would have to stand completely off the field, and then throw the ball back onto the field.

I’m sure that there is a practical and historical reason for this, I just don’t know what it could be.

USSF answer (March 30, 2009):
We, too, are intrigued to know the answer, but we were unable to find anything in writing. However, a noted historian of the Laws of the Game suggests that a practical reason for requiring the thrower to stand on or outside the touch line is to help localize the point where the ball left the field. It is intended to discourage a throw from several yards away from the line and the ball entering the field far from the correct entry point.

As a further contribution to the historical side, the two-handed throw-in from the touchline developed after a compromise settlement between varying sets of rules, some of which allowed single-handed throws. This occurred at the first IFAB meeting in December 1882, and resulted in a two-handed throw in any direction. In 1895 throwing distance was restricted by a rule compelling the thrower to stand with part of both feet on the touchline. The rule was changed so that the thrower’s foot had to be outside the touchline (1925) or on or outside the touchline (1932), which is the rule today.

For further information on the throw-in and other items related to the Laws and customs of the game, see “Ward’s Soccerpedia,” a history of The Lore and Laws of the Beautiful Game, by Andrew Ward.


March 11, 2009

This is a question related to the throw-in. I have seen this called, and called it myself many times, but as I now look over the LOTG again, as well as advice, I find no backing for it. It could be that this is one of those that has historical significance and is no longer written, or I may have just been doing it wrong.

The LOTG states that a player must throw the ball with two hands, starting from behind the head. I have seen an addition, in practice, in which the thrower must throw the ball straight in the direction they are facing. For example, a red player taking a throw against blue team. Red player is facing towards blue team’s goal, but angles his arms during the throw to send the ball towards his own defensive player, the opposite direction that he is facing. I have also heard that it is illegal to throw the ball in a way that causes it to spin sideways. What is the correct ruling on this? I look forward to your answer before spring season starts in a couple of weeks.

USSF answer (March 11, 2009):
The USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” 2008-2009 edition, lifts the veil from the mystery of the throw-in. Read the first sentence of Advice 15.3:

A throw-in must be performed while the thrower is facing the field, but the ball may be thrown into the field in any direction. Law 15 states that the thrower “delivers the ball from behind and over his head.” This phrase does not mean that the ball must leave the hands from an overhead position. A natural throwing movement starting from behind and over the head will usually result in the ball leaving the hands when they are in front of the vertical plane of the body. The throwing movement must be continued to the point of release. A throw-in directed straight downward (often referred to as a “spike”) has traditionally been regarded as not correctly performed; if, in the opinion of the referee such a throw-in was incorrectly performed, the restart should be awarded to the opposing team.  There is no requirement in Law 15 prohibiting spin or rotational movement. Referees must judge the correctness of the throw-in solely on the basis of Law 15.

The acrobatic or “flip” throw-in is not by itself an infringement so long as it is performed in a manner which meets the requirements of Law 15.

A player who lacks the normal use of one or both hands may nevertheless perform a legal throw-in provided the ball is delivered over the head and provided all other requirements of Law 15 are observed.


December 1, 2008

Worked a match recently in which a throw-in was made nearly straight down and then rebounded to strike an opponent in the face.

As far as I understand the Laws do not address the throw-in which is executed as a spike throw (nearly straight down and which rebounds directly back up) but there is a mention in the ATR although it is not any more clearly defined.

What is the current perspective as to this type of throw? Also what if this throw rebounds and impacts a player – opponent or team mate in the face or chest area?

USSF answer (December 1, 2008):
The reason it is not “more clearly defined” is that everyone should “know” what it is — a ball thrown straight down at the ground. There is, however, a caveat on this: The referee must be sure that this was done deliberately, rather than through an accident or pure lack of skill. If you use that criterion, then you are certain to make the correct decision with regard to a throw that rebounds and impacts a player. I. e., it can range from nothing through delay of the restart to dissent. Usually it is at worst only a simple mistake in not performing the throw-in restart in accordance with the Law.

On a throw in, the player taking the throw in near the halfway line dose a correct throw but throws at an opponent that is the required distance away or more( 8′). This throw is not a slip or a tactical off the opponent redirect, as the opponent is facing the thrower. This throw was at the player body and not the head. The ball rebounded off the opponent and went out of play back to the thrower.

The thrower was being unsporting at the opinion of the referee and close AR, play stopped Thrower cautioned and play restarted with throw in by the player cautioned (thrower). Question is with the restart.

First we have a player “off the field”, with a stoppage in play,dose this player that commits a misconduct at this time = a restart based on the original stoppage or is the the restart base on the ball being in play, and the ball being an object of striking which = DFK to the opponent at the spot of the contact, or is it a dropped ball as the thrower was off field? My main problem here, is the thrower committing a misconduct or a foul and a misconduct.

USSF answer (November 5, 2008):
If the thrower had released the ball, as it would seem from your question, then the ball was in play and the restart, after the caution for unsporting behavior (or more, if the referee thinks it was done using excessive force), is a direct free kick for the opposing team from the place where the ball struck the opponent. Why? you ask. Because the ball is an extension of the thrower’s arm and the contact with the opponent took place on the field of play.