Soccer Goalie Rules

Recently I’ve seen that a lot of people want to know a little more about what it’s like to play in goal. So, I felt it was a good idea to talk about some of the rules that you may not know about, and some of the unwritten rules of the game as well. There are some obvious things that I don’t see the need to cover in-depth. Obviously, you can use your hands only inside the box, and no, you can’t use your hands inside the other team’s box. Another thing that I want to point out is that I prefer the term goalkeeper. “Soccer goalie rules” is the term that we’ve seen people searching for, that’s why I am using that today.

Do Goalies Have To Use Gloves?

No, you don’t forcefully have to use gloves. If a ref in the youth game or any other game for that matter wants to force you to use gloves you have the argument that there is nowhere in the rules where it says that you have to. That being said, even with kids I would not recommend not using gloves if you have them at least. Gloves do provide an extra layer of protection for your hands and can soften the blow when a ball inevitably impacts your hands.

Do Soccer Goalies Have To Dress Differently Than Other Players?

Yes, this is one of the main soccer goalie rules that are observed even in most informal leagues out there. You don’t necessarily have to wear gloves, but you do need to make sure that the color of your shirt does not match or can be easily confused with the color that your teammates are wearing.

In the pro game, the referee will ask to know in advance what color jersey each team’s goalie is going to wear. That way they can make sure that colors don’t mix and can potentially cause some type of confusion. Sometimes certain refs are going to be more lenient when enforcing this rule.

Is It A Foul If A Goalie Touches The Ball Outside The Box With His or Her Hands On A Punt?

I had this one called on me a couple of times in the youth game. Technically, if you touch the ball with your hands outside of the box it’s a foul. If you look at the pro game you’re probably going to find that this happens pretty often. This is one of those though that refs almost always let slide. The main reason why refs let this one slide is because with the length of the field being what it is you’re not getting a major advantage if you touch the ball with your hands two inches outside of the box.

If you touch the ball with your hands outside of the box as a way to block a kick most refs are not going to let those slide at all. Most of the time when this happens the ref has to call the foul and the goalie should get a red card for illegally using your hands outside of the designated area.

Can Opposing Players Touch The Goalie In Soccer?

In soccer, there are plenty of rules that are not as clear as we maybe would like them to be. This means that touching, shoving, other types of contact has to be interpreted by the referee and they will determine what’s a foul and what isn’t. When the goalkeeper has the ball in his or her hands other players are not able to kick or slap the ball out of their hands, that’s going to be called a foul every single time. This applies when the ball is clearly in the grasp of the goalkeeper.

When the ball is on the ground and you cover it up you better make sure that you cover it up well and you don’t allow anyone to come in and kick it out of your grasp. Although, as I mentioned it is a foul to kick the ball when the goalkeeper has it within their grasp when the ball is on the ground whether or not the goalkeeper has control can be harder to determine. So ultimately, the referee is going to have the final say in what control looks like or not. Be sure to hold on to the ball tight especially in those loose ball situations.

Can Opposing Players Touch The Goalie In A Corner Kick?

The unwritten rule here is that opposing players are not supposed to be able to touch the keeper inside of the goal area, 6-yard line, small box, or whatever you want to call it. This is the unwritten rule, but as I’ve mentioned ultimately the ref is going to be the judge when determining what type of contact is illegal or not. Technically if a player literally shoves a goalkeeper or tries to do a shoulder check, hockey style, that should be called a foul.

The thing is field players on both teams have the same claim for the ball that the goalie has. You can’t expect to be able to get a fair catch like scenario as you see in American football. Ultimately again, the ref is going to the one that is going to determine if any type of contact with the goalkeeper was legitimate or not. As you can see that’s pretty much something that goes for all of the contacts on the field. The best thing that you can do is be ready for impact almost at all times.

Is It Legal For Goalies To Lift Their Knees To Protect Themselves?

For years this has been the way that coaches are teaching kids to jump up for a high ball. This is going to be a technique that you use for corner kicks, but mostly for any ball that is coming in at a frontal angle and you need to pluck out of the air in traffic. For the most part, lifting the knee is something that all refs are going to allow. It doesn’t matter what the rule actually says here, what mostly matters is how certain plays are called.

As a goalie what you should be watching out for in these plays other than of course making sure that you catch the ball is that you lift the knee, but try and keep your foot level. What will be called a foul if you even accidentally stomp down on someone with your foot at an angle. You have to make sure that you keep the foot level here. What the knee is going to be doing is giving you a little more room. You don’t want other players to be able to press up against your chest and head area. If you are a basketball fan this is the same concept that Dirk Nowitzki used on his one-legged fade-away shot.

You Can’t Hold The Ball, Drop It, & Pick It Up Again With Your Hands

Some goalkeepers don’t love to punt. They like to be able to kick the ball from the ground. So if they catch the ball they’ll typically wait for the opposing players to leave the box and then they’ll drop the ball and kick from the ground. Whether they’re making a short pass or playing a long ball. Doing this is perfectly legal. You can punt the ball out, throw the ball out, or put it on the turf and play with your feet. What you can’t do is put the ball on the turf and then be the first person to touch the ball to pick it back up with your hands. If you drop the ball and you see that an opposing player is coming in it’s better to kick the ball away out of bounds or whatever.

As with a lot of the rules, there are certain exceptions and things that you should be aware of. This rule applies only when you clearly have the ball in your hands and you intentionally drop it to be able to play with your feet. This does not apply to an instance where you block a shot and then you’re able to catch the ball after a bounce or two. If you violate this rule the opposing team is going to get an indirect free kick from inside the box.

Goalies Can Only Hold The Ball In Their Hands For 6 Seconds

Talk about a rule that you never see enforced in the pro game. What’s worse is that there are a lot of refs at the amateur level that’ll get on your case about something like this. Technically goalies can only hold their hands for 6 seconds. Formerly goalies could only advance the ball like two steps when they had it in their hands, so they would roll it. It looks really weird when you look at some of the old footage.

In today’s game, the rule says that a goalie is not able to hold the ball for more than 6 seconds otherwise the other team is going to be awarded an indirect free-kick from the spot of the foul. To this day I have never seen the rule enforced in the pro game. I have gotten called for it in Sunday league though. It’s a lot like traveling calls in basketball. Where amateur league refs are all over them and it seems like traveling isn’t a penalty in the NBA.

Can Goalies Catch The Ball From A Teammate Throw In?

There is a lot of confusion with this rule. I honestly did not know the true interpretation of the rule until I signed my first pro contract. In 11v11 regular rules soccer, a goalie cannot catch the ball from a teammate’s throw-in. If you are playing in some 7v7 leagues or indoor games this is a rule that can change. In a lot of places, the rule will depend on what the owner of the field dictates. In regular 11v11 games don’t catch the ball with your hands from a throw-in. Unless of course, the throw-in came from the opposing team.

Pass Back Rules For Goalies

Since we are on the topic of getting passes back from a teammate let’s go over these because many people still don’t get it. If a teammate deliberately passes the ball back to you with his or her foot you can’t pick the ball up with your hands. If your teammate intends to clear the ball, but it’s coming towards goal you make the save with your hands. Also if the ball is kicked by an opposing player, but it hits your teammate you are ok you can catch the ball with your hands no problem. Your teammate can pass you the ball with their head, shoulder, chest, or thigh area and you can grab it with your hands even if they intended to give you the pass.

This can sound complicated, so I’m going to try and simplify it. Picking up a ball if a teammate kicks the ball to you intentionally is a no. If they pass it back with basically anything other than their foot, shin, or knee areas you’re ok to grab it. This is maybe the most important solution here. When in doubt, clear the ball with your feet as quickly as you can. If the ball is going to go in the goal use whatever you can to make the save.

Remember that these pass back rules are not going to be the same in other forms of soccer. For example, in beach soccer you see the guys pass the ball back to the goalkeeper all of the time. That’s actually a big part of the strategy. If you’re confused on what the rules are in indoor soccer or 7v7 fields just blatantly ask the ref what you can or cannot do on their field.

Soccer Goalie Rules For Penalty Kicks

These rules have changed very recently. All of us in the goalkeeper community are not happy at all with the rules. Maybe not so much with the rules, but the way they are enforced is so arbitrary that it literally becomes a perfect way for referees to fix games while making it seem like they are playing within the rules. Before a penalty kick, you can move horizontally on the goal line as much as you want. There is no rule that you have to stand directly in the middle of the goal.

As the player takes the shot you are allowed to take one step in front of the goal line as long as one of your feet remains touching the goal line. You’re most likely going to take that front step towards the side that you plan on diving on which is another huge advantage to the shot taker. In any case, this a rule that some refs will enforce thoroughly while others are just going to let it slide. I sincerely hope changes are coming to this rule in the near future because it’s one of the worst rules in the entire game.

Soccer Goalie Rules: General Questions

I know that I haven’t gotten everything, but I think that I’ve covered pretty much what most people that are novices of the game can have doubts about. Some simple rules or things that you can do as a goalie for example is to leave the box. In hockey apparently, the goalie can leave the little blue area for extended periods. In soccer, there is no problem. Actually, most goalkeepers play outside the box when their team is on the other side of the field. It’s a good defensive tactic as you can come out and intercept a through ball with your feet or your head. Goalies can score, take free kicks, penalty kicks, and everything in between.

When it comes to punting and throwing the ball out you can punt the way that you see fit and especially throw the way that you see fit. I’ve seen parents that think that goalies have to throw the ball out like a throw in. No way, you can throw the ball out like if you were bowling, or try the slingshot maneuver.

A Couple Final Soccer Goalie Rules

To be fair these are not exactly soccer goalie rules, but they are rules of the game that go overlooked and they tend to affect goalkeepers more than most other positions. Number one, the offside rule does not apply on a goal kick. Also, the offside rule does not apply on a throw in. That means that if your kid can kick really far on those kiddy fields a goal kick could potentially be a scoring opportunity if they can reach the other side of the field. In throw ins, you have to account for every opposition player if they are currently standing offsides.

I hope these soccer goalie rules are able to give both goalkeepers and parents a better understanding of the game. I do feel that sometimes the general misunderstanding of the game by even coaches at the recreational youth levels can hamper the development of players. Even if you don’t dream of making the pros one day knowing the rules and how they are enforced can go a long way into making your playing experience more fun and better overall.