Corner Kick-shielding. During a recent U12 Girls game I was officiating, the blue team was awarded a corner kick. Blue player took the kick but miss hit the ball. The ball traveled forward about 6 feet towards the goal. The kicker, realizing that she could not kick the ball again since it would constitute a two touch violation, yelled at her teammate to come in and get the ball. The red team defender who was next to the blue teammate also ran towards the ball to try and gain control of it.

Question: Would it have been OK if the blue team player who kicked the ball ran between the red team player and ball to shield her from getting the ball (with the understanding that the ball would have been within playing distance of the blue team player who kicked it) and give the blue teammate of the kicker a better opportunity of getting the ball by swinging behind the two players?

If the kicker was not allowed to legally play the ball again immediately due to the two touch rule, can she still be involved in the play and shield the opposing player from getting the ball?

USSF answer (September 20, 2011):
Shielding the ball does not establish or continue “possession” of the ball. The Blue player is technically unable to actually play the ball, because to do so would constitute the “second touch.” Being within “playing distance” should not be considered sufficient to allow the kicker to shield the ball – the ball must in fact also be playable by that player. In other words, the concept of “playing distance” must include being able to play the ball legally.

If the player can legally play the ball and the ball is within playing distance, the player may shield as a tactic to prevent an opponent from getting to the ball (provided, of course, that the shielding does not involve holding).  If the player cannot legally play the ball or if the ball is not within playing distance, such shielding becomes “impeding the progress of an opponent” and should be penalized by an indirect free kick.