What Is a Kick?

A HS/College coach asks:

Is it within the laws of the game to “lift” the ball (meaning to slide your foot under and propel the ball up in the air — as opposed to striking or rolling it with your sole) on a kick-off, corner, free kick, etc.


Yes.  We think.  Probably.  Actually, the only place which specifically deals with your question is in Law 13 (Free Kicks) where it states that “a free kick can be taken by lifting the ball with a foot or both feet simultaneously” (2016/2017 edition).  So, at least for direct and indirect free kicks, the answer is clear.

What we don’t know, because the Law doesn’t mention it, is whether the same “ruling” would apply to such other restarts as penalty kicks, kick-offs, corner kicks, or goal kicks.  Because, in general, all restarts involving kicking a ball are similar in many respects, our conclusion would be that, in practice, the “lift with the foot” approved for free kicks would apply to all “kick the ball” restarts, but with the proviso that all such restarts must still be governed by any other characteristics specified in the Law.  For example, a penalty kick must still “go forward” even if lifted up.  Another example would be that, even if the ball is put into play by lifting it up with the foot (or both feet), a player who did so and then headed or volleyed the ball would still be guilty of a second touch violation.

Perhaps the reason the Law is silent on whether the “lift with the foot” kick applies to kicked-ball restarts other than free kicks is that it really makes little sense (at least as regards to the purposes and dynamics of these other restarts) to kick the ball in this particular way.  Why, for example, would a player want to take a goal kick or penalty kick using that technique?

In any event, however, the answer is absolutely clear with regards to free kicks, and probably the same for any other kicked-ball restart.

A Dropped Ball and A Pesky Spectator

Marlon Edwards, a coach, asks:

Can you score on your own team from a drop ball?

Red takes a shot on goal and, as the ball is rolling on the ground directly toward the goal with the goalkeeper seriously out of position, a spectator wearing the Blue team colors runs onto the field and kicks the ball away from the goal.  What is the restart?


Two very different questions.  The first one can be dealt with fairly quickly.  The short answer is, no.  The longer, more detailed answer needs to make sure we are talking about the same thing.  The dropped ball (DB) is a unique restart in that it is the only one of the 7 ways to start/restart a soccer game which is not performed by a player.  Another unique feature is that the ball is in play as soon as it touches the ground.  Once we have gotten to the ground-touching point, however, the DB is like the indirect free kick in that a goal cannot be scored in favor of either team directly from the first touch of the ball by any player following the drop.  If the ball should happen to enter a goal directly from the initial player contact, the restart is based on which team’s player kicked it into which team’s goal — goal kick if into the goal of the opposing team, corner kick if into the goal of the player’s own team.

What is interesting about this is the word “directly” because, in soccer, it has a very definite meaning and refers to what happens immediately after a player touches/controls the ball or performs a restart.  If whatever happens does not involve another player touching the ball, it is said to have occurred “directly.”  In the 2016/2017 LOG Law 8, this was restated to be crystal clear: a goal cannot be legally scored unless, prior to entering the goal, the ball was touched by at least two different players.  So, we take away several thing from this.  First, once the ball has been touched by at least two players, a goal can be legally scored if it enters either team’s goal.  Second, the “two player” requirement is met by any two players from either or the same team but not by one player touching the ball twice.  This was not a substantive change in the Law, only a restatement for clarification.  By the way, if the ball leaves the field after the drop with no touch by any player, the DB is retaken.

On to the second question.  The fact that the spectator was wearing “colors” associated with one of the teams whose game he interrupted is irrelevant.  Even if he was wearing something like a team jersey and was decked out like a player (but his name is not on the team roster), the person is still only a spectator and we call such persons an “outside agent.”  The critical question that has to be answered in any outside agent situation is whether that person interfered with play in any way (made contact with the ball or any player or got in the way of play or a player).  If the agent did, play must be stopped and then, after the dust has settled and the outside agent removed, play is restarted with a dropped ball where the ball was when play was stopped.  Any goal apparently scored during or following such interference cannot be counted under any circumstances. If the agent did not (in the opinion of the referee), play is not stopped and the entry onto the field is handled at the next stoppage.  In the case here, it is obvious that there was interference — play should be stopped as soon as possible and restarted with a DB.


Our team was awarded a drop ball free kick without an opposing player after time was suspended for an injured player. Our player was on a breakaway with no other opposing players between our player and goalkeeper when the injury time suspension was called. We scored off the direct kick (drop ball; the Ref dropped the ball in front of the player). Was that the correct decision?

Answer (April 28, 2014):
The conditions for scoring on a dropped ball were changed in July 2012 so as not to allow a goal on a dropped ball kicked directly into the goal after the ball hits the ground.. Here is what Law 8 has to say about it:

If the ball enters the goal:
• if a dropped ball is kicked directly into the opponents’ goal, a goal kick is awarded
• if a dropped ball is kicked directly into the team’s own goal, a corner kick is awarded to the opposing team

In this case, as The FA put it in their explanatory note for proposing the 2012 change:

There have been a number of occasions where goals have been scored from “uncontested” dropped balls. This has put a great deal of pressure on the referee as he has to allow the goal to stand. We then have the unseemly situation where the opposition allows the team to score from the kick-off without any players trying to stop them in order to rebalance the game.”

Thus, this turns the dropped ball into an indirect kick, from which a goal may NOT be scored directly.


Please clarify that kicking the ball for a corner kick it is ok to kick with the bottom of your boot.

Answer (March 8, 2014):
Yes, the kicker may use the bottom of the foot as long as he has played the ball in a kicking motion. The referee needs to use common sense and apply practices currently accepted in modern soccer, no matter how much these may differ from what we have learned and applied in the past. On any free kick, whether direct or indirect, the Law is clear: The ball must be moved a minimum distance with the foot, preferably in a kicking motion. In many cases, this means that the ball may be stepped on, although it still must move some minimum distance. If the referee does not see some minimal movement on the initial kick, then the ball is not yet in play and the kick must be taken correctly.


Team A gets a penalty in their favour and allows their keeper to take it. Team B now gets the ball to the centre, everyone in their respected halves, touches the ball, shoots immediately and scores before the Team A’s keeper reaches back in his post.

My question is, does the referee have to check with both goalies before blowing the whistle to resume play?

My answer: (May 5, 2012):

No, the referee need not check with either goalkeeper at ANY restart.

Interestingly, nothing is said in the scenario about the referee whistling to signal that the kick-off could be taken. There is no requirement in the Laws of the Game that the referee check with the goalkeepers to see if they are ready. Failing that, and given that the kick-off is always ceremonial, it falls entirely to the referee to determine when the kick-off can occur, subject only to the requirements of the Law that each team must be in its respective half of the field. The referee is empowered to allow a corner kick (or a throw-in) to be taken even though the ‘keeper has not returned to the field of play, so there is no reason to assume that the goalkeeper, in his joy at scoring, should not return to his normal kick-off position for the KO to take place.

However, in a different situation, it is customary (but not required by the Laws) to allow players who have been substituted in for other players to reach their normal positions before any restart. This would be especially true of the goalkeeper.

To illustrate the first point, observe this videoclip (http://www.askasoccerreferee.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Celebration-Too-Soon1.wmv):


I am curious about the kickoff in EPL and other leagues.
Fifa rules say the winner of the coin toss has to decide the side and
the looser has kickoff.
Now it looks like in EPL the winner can decide if he wants to choose
the side or take kickoff.

How is it possible that EPL rules differ to Fifa rules?

And do you know how this is handled in foreign leagues?

USSF answer (February 20, 2012):
Law 8 is clear on who takes the kick-off and we cannot imagine that the EPL has received permission to do it wrong.

Before a kick-off at the start of the match or extra time
* a coin is tossed and the team that wins the toss decides which goal it will attack in the first half of the match.
* the other team takes the kick-off to start the match.
* the team that wins the toss takes the kick-off to start the second half of the match.
* in the second half of the match, the teams change ends and attack the opposite goals.

We are not aware of any countries that do such a thing.


I was the CR in a game today that was un-eventful except for one thing. I had trouble getting one team back on the field after halftime.

After the halftime, I blew the whistle to summon the teams to the field for the 2nd half. The blue team came out and lined up for the kick-off (they were to take the kick-off to open the half). The red team didn’t move. This is not unusual, so I waited about 30 seconds and blew the whistle again. Still the red team didn’t come out of their huddle.

I waited another 30 seconds and one of the blue players joked that I should just start the game without them. I blew the whistle AGAIN and summoned the captain BY NAME and the coach BY NAME to send out the team and got NO response.

After another few seconds I blew the whistle a FORTH TIME and the red team finally got up, did their little pre-game “HOO-Rah” cheer and took the field.

I considered this an unacceptable delay. Law 12 states I must issue a yellow card for “delaying the restart of play.”

1) Would I be justified in issuing the Yellow Card to the Captain?

2) As odd as this question is, is there something in “the laws” that would prevent the Referee from starting the game without the Red team ON THE FIELD? Law 3 DOESN’T say the teams must be ON the field and they had ignored 3 requests to get on the field?

USSF answer (February 20, 2012):
Both teams must come out as quickly as possible for the start of a period of play when the referee indicates that the time has arrived. Matches are scheduled to begin at a particular time and for a specified amount of time (depending on the rules of the competition). The Laws also provide that players are entitled to an interval at halftime (must be stated in the competition rules, but may not exceed 15 minutes), which can be altered only with the consent of the referee, not by the coach or other officials of one or both teams. In other words, the teams should make good use of their halftime break and be prepared to come out at the referee’s signal.

If the team does not come out to play when ordered by the referee, that team is in violation of the Laws of the Game and the coach and other team officials can be removed for irresponsible behavior in accordance with Law 5.

Despite having that power, the referee should behave proactively and remind the team that the allotted time has passed and encourage them to come out before applying any draconian measures.

All of which leaves the ultimate question — what if they still don’t come out? Certainly, the coach and other team officials can be ordered away for behaving irresponsibly. As for the players (i.e., persons on the field at the end of the first half) could be cautioned for delaying the restart of play (after appropriate warnings, entreaties, etc.), but at some point this has to stop. Simply abandon the match for having fewer than the minimum number of players required to start/restart/continue play based on the rules of competition and include full details in the match report.


I was watching the below clip from a professional match. The referee restarted play with a drop ball. The red team expected the white team to kick the ball back to them because the red team had the ball before played was stopped. Instead, the white player took the ball and went on to score despite the protests. The referee went on to send off the scorer. I’m assuming it was for unsporting behavior (and hopefully that was his second yellow card and not a straight red).

So I have a few questions. Can you caution a player for unsporting behavior because they refuse to play “fair play” at a drop ball? If so, does the goal still count and what is the proper restart? Also, what punishment if any do the red players get for confronting the scorer and attempting to trip him?

Video: http://youtu.be/uwDA5vYkz28

USSF answer (December 16, 2011):
The answers to your questions in the order in which they were asked:
1. No, although the referee might have detected some separate misconduct by the white player that we non-Lusophone (Portuguese or Brazilian) speakers are unable to comprehend from the match commentary. Lacking an understanding of the language, we can say only that there is absolutely no requirement under the Laws of the Game that the white player surrender the ball to the red team.
2. If some misconduct by the white player was detected, then no, the goal does not count; the proper restart would be an indirect free kick from the place where the misconduct occurred.
3. If the referee applied the advantage for these attempted trips, then there is no punishment necessary.


Having a debate here about definition of ‘delay of game’.

On a kick-off from the half line, after a goal, or starting a game, if a team does an improper kick-off (i.e. ball does not move forward, and cross over the half line) several times, is this delay of game? I have seen teams do this in the past. I would allow this twice, then give an IDFK to the opposite team. I was recently told by a senior official that this is not a delay of game and not IDFK. Well, if so, what do you do about it?

USSF answer (November 17, 2011):
The tactic you describe could be considered to be delaying the restart of play. A number of examples are given in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:

The following are specific examples of this form of misconduct (some of which may also be committed by substitutes):

• Kicks or throws the ball away or holds the ball to prevent or delay a free kick, throw-in, or corner kick restart by an opponent

• Fails to restart play after being so instructed by the referee

• Excessively celebrates a goal

• Fails to return to the field from a midgame break, fails to perform a kick-off when signaled by the referee, or fails to be in a correct position for a kick-off

• Performing a throw-in improperly with the apparent intention of being required to perform the throw-in again, thus wasting time

• Unnecessarily moving a ball which has already been properly placed on the ground for a goal kick

• Provokes a confrontation by deliberately touching the ball after the referee has stopped play

Because the ball was out of play at the delay, the restart after any caution in this case would still be the kick-off.


Here is the situation: Red team is attacking just outside the penalty box when a red player try to hit the ball to goal,but it missed and in doing so, his shoe went flying straight to the goalkeeper face. At almost the same time, another red player hit the ball and was going straight to the net, but because the goalkeeper was busy protecting himself from the flying shoe,he lost track of the ball and the ball just past next to him and went inside the net. It was an easy stoppable shot. The ref,as soon as he saw the flying shoe,stop the play,barely before the ball hit the net…The reason? according to him, was interfering with play, and also a strange object in the field.. the goal was not allowed,and the game resumed with a ball dropped. Was he correct? Please clarify…Tanks.

USSF answer (September 28, 2011):
The referee was correct in not allowing the goal, as the Red player “threw” an object at the goalkeeper when the shoe went flying from the foot toward the ‘keeper’s face. It might be stretching the Law a bit to call it “interfering,” but the referee certainly exercised good sense in stopping play and restarting play with a dropped ball (for restarts not covered elsewhere in the Law). However, notice that we do not suggest that the Red player might be sent off for violent conduct.