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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 30408

Law 15 - Throw In 5/12/2016

RE: Rec Under 9

Jolene Peters of North Augusta, SC USA asks...

Is it legal for a player to make a throw in so that is bounces on the ground? The player has followed all the mechanics for feet, hands, taking the ball completely over the head, etc. The throw is not lofted, but directed toward the ground so as a teammate can control it off a short bounce. Is this legal?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jolene
It is not an easy question. What you described could refer to a *spike* which many referees deem to be illegal or it could just be a regular throw that bounces. In the spike instance the ball is thrown sharply down towards the ground close to the thrower. To do that the ball will have to delivered from in front of the players head.
Law 15 states that the thrower "delivers the ball from behind and over his head." The regular natural throwing movement starting from behind and over the head will usually result in the ball leaving the hands when they are close to the vertical plane of the body.
Now there is nothing wrong with throwing the ball towards the feet of a team mate provided as you say the proper mechanics are followed. When a team mate comes in very close proximity to the thrower the only way to get the ball to his feet is by either dropping it or by delivering it from in front of the head. I have long contended that the throw mechanics is to prevent that crowding around the thrower. Another example is clearing the penalty area at a goal kick or free kick. Have a look at this video.
That was an illegal throw in. Note no appeal by Blue and the referee allowed it. Could you imagine the ball getting to feet of Red 11 had the correct TI mechanics been followed?
Now as we have said many times the throw in is a simple way of restarting the game. If one reads Law 15 it is a simple enough mechanic yet the game expect it to be executed in line with the accepted norm. When a thrower deviates from that it may attracts howls of an illegal throw certainly at the lower levels of the game. Some times it will be illegal such as a foot over the line, a raised foot , the ball is dropped etc. Other times it will just looks different, divergent yet not illegal. It may be to use a term trifling or doubtful with no benefit to the team. On the throw that goes sharply down the referee could opine that the ball was released in front of the head which then makes it an incorrectly taken TI. He might not if he believes it was delivered correctly from behind the head. He will though be asked to decide in his own mind or by opponents and therein is the challenge of opinion and consistency.
As a coach I would ensure that players do not ask the question of the referee of illegal mechanics at a throw in and I would also coach the receiving player to make a timed run to a location where the ball is thrown to the feet without the need for the throw in to be sharply downwards or dropped. The question then does not arise.

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