(Originally published on 7/10/17, “Operation Restore”)
Chris, a U13 – U19 coach, asks:
Drop ball restart. If only one player is part of the drop ball restart, can the player touch the ball twice before any other player? At a U16 club game, I saw a drop ball with one player where the Referee dropped the ball and the player dribbled several times before passing it.
You may well see this many times because there is nothing wrong with it. You may have a misconception based on how you worded the scenario suggesting that this is permissible only if/when there is just a single player contesting for the dropped ball. A player, no matter how many other players are contesting for the dropped ball, can gain possession and then dribble the ball to his or her heart’s content … and do so while going from one end of the field to the other.
We suspect that your question was sparked by some clubhouse discussion which mixed up two different issues — “can a player receive the ball from a drop and thereafter touch the ball more than once?” versus “can a player score a goal directly from his or her taking possession of the ball from a drop?” We’ve already answered the first of these with “Yes” but, sadly, we must answer the second of these with “No” and this answer would be true whether the player made only a single touch of the ball and shot the ball into the net or whether the player dribbled 40 yards downfield and then shot the ball into the net. The player’s problem is that, while the underlying principle has always been true, the 2016 rewrite of the relevant part of Law 8 made it crystal clear that a goal cannot be scored on a dropped ball unless and until at least two different players had at least touched/played the ball between the drop and the ball entering the goal. Simply put, a player receiving the ball from a drop cannot score directly from that possession.