I ran across a situation last night while I was doing a U10 game. During goal kicks some of the players were having difficulty kicking the ball directly beyond the penalty area. Meaning the ball would sometimes bounce or roll out of the penalty area from a kick. I had them retake the kick again so that they understood what they needed to do and because they are U10 if, after the second kick the ball still rolled or bounced out of the penalty area I let them play it.

Anyway one of the coaches (who is also a referee) and one of his parents approached me at the half and asked why I made that call. I explained to them that according to Law 16 the ball is in play when it is kicked directly beyond the penalty area. Their interpretation of what directly means was different than mine. I explained to them that when I was coaching, referees would make my players re kick the ball if it touched the ground before leaving the penalty area.

Is my interpretation correct? I’m going to be doing a lot of U10 games this season and the information will come in quite handy.

USSF answer (October 15, 2008):
The use of the word “directly” in Law 16 does not mean that the ball magically flew from the foot of the kicker to a point just outside the penalty area. It means that the ball left the foot of the kicker and somehow it left the penalty area without being touched by a human being. (In this case, referees and assistant referees do not count as human beings; instead they are regarded as part of the field.) The ball may leave the penalty area in the air or on the ground, but it must leave the area to be in play.

We are sorry that you learned the wrong techniques from what we call “inventive” referees, those who make up their own rules as they go along.