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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34318

Law 15 - The Throw In 8/25/2021

RE: Rec, USSF, NFHS High School

James of Memphis, Tn USA asks...

On throw-ins when is a player too far over the touchline? I only have this problem in rec leagues.

Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


As indicated in NFHS Rule 15.1.2, the player making the throw-in must must be facing the field of play and must have both feet on the ground on or behind the touch line.

Thus if one or both feet are completely in the field of play, there would be a throw-in violation and a throw-in is awarded to the opponent at the spot of the foul.

I have not seen a violation for having one or both feet in the field of play in quite some time. I have, especially in middle school games, seen and have recently called numerous violations for not having one foot on the ground at the time of the throw in.

To provide motivation for players to avoid illegal throw-ins, I do recommend that you strictly call throw-in violations.

I hope that you and the West Tennessee Interscholastic Soccer Officials Association have a very successful girls fall soccer season.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi James,
It's an offence when 1 foot is wholly over the line

I've seen a few interesting cases - usually around the U/18 age, for some reason - where a player will throw it down the line, have the front foot on the field but they back foot swept across and ended up clearly on the field.

Try to proactively manage this - if you have the opportunity to tell somebody to move back, do so - and in younger ages in particular you may even wish to remind them as they're preparing for the throw. Of course, if they're taking a runup, there's not much you can do.

One issue is when players have their heels on the line and their feet on the field and lift the heels up as they throw. Technically that's still an offence....though there's probably no need to get that strict. Though there has been the odd time when it's just been a tiny part of the heel on the line and they lifted up so far that it became blatant, and forced a decision.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi James,
Whether we're talking USSF, NFHS or recreation games the law on foot positioning at a throw-in is the same. So long as any part of each foot is on or behind the line when the throw is taken then that is a legal foot position.

So for instance, the player could have the vast majority of both feet on the field of play but as long as the heels are touching the line the foot position is still legal. While watching for the heels coming up and off the line in this situation, you should also bear in mind that so long as this does not happen until after the ball is released then it is fine.

The same principle holds true when a player is taking the throw with both feet clearly behind the line but where because of their throwing technique the back foot comes off the ground at some point. You have to be sure that this has happened before the ball was released because if it only happened after the ball left the players hands then this is not an offence.

I agree with my colleague ref Wright that in games involving younger players it is fine to be proactive and remind players of the correct technique as they're preparing to take the throw-in. Like ref Manjone I found it rare that players would have a foot (or feet) completely over the line and the more common "foot fault" was players lifting the back foot. I used to use the phrase, "Both feet on the ground, both hands behind the head," as a quick reminder to young players as they were preparing to throw the ball in.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi James
Put simply a thrower has infringed Law 15 when a foot is completely over the line before the throw is taken. A player can have his heel/s on the line yet the moment the heel/s is placed over the line before the throw it is an incorrectly taken throw in and the throw in is turned over to the opponents.

At younger age groups I tend to ask for a retake and it is rarely for being over the line yet more for jumping up trying to get distance. I ask the same player to throw it in again correctly after giving advice of keeping both feet on the ground.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi James,
my colleague, Ref Grove's explanations & suggestions are ones that I too follow when refereeing youth. A subtle reminder to try and get it right not gift the opponent with a needless possession or waste what little playing time there is. So unless they are yards away standing 3 feet inside the FOP from the point of the touchline you are pointing too it takes obtuse or very inexperienced players to not follow some simple commands. Once the caliber of the competition steps it up a notch a more rigorous defense of this law can be implemented but it is a simple restart to get the ball in play. The biggest myth I can still see perpetuated is if the feet or on the touchline but ALSO partly inside the FOP that this is incorrect. That simply is not true as long as some part of the foot inside the FIP is also touching the 5-inch line the throw-in stance is fine & can be performed correctly.

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