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Question Number: 3022

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

RE: Girls premier Under 12

Wayne Partenheimer of Haddonfield, NJ USA asks...

What is the interpretation for female players regarding protecting their chests with their arms? My understanding has always been that they may do this only in a wall (as male players protect the groin area) and of course they may not move their arms towards the ball ort in any way play the ball. But I have seen numerous referees allow girls to put their arms up in front of their chests to block a ball during the normal course of play -- not on a hard shot where the player may react instinctively, but on a high bouncing ball on which the player has time to make a deliberate decision to put her arms in front of her chest. I am trying to teach my players the right way at this age so it will become instinct. I do not want them to be in the habit of putting their arms in front of the chest if this is handling the ball, as i believe.

Answer provided by Referee Dawson

Hi Wayne,. there is a video called, Myths of the Game, put out by the US Soccer Federation. I believe it should be a manditory viewing for all parents and coaches. It provides some clear examples of what is or is not accepted...A young lady should not be penalized for just protecting herself. The arm blocking must not DIRECT the ball away, only allow the impact. It is instinctive to protect themselves at the younger ages at times in a more awkward way. Deliberate handling is an intentional desire to affect the ball's flight and disadvantage the other team. Referees are well advised to apply law 18. Only if the ball is redirected by intentionaly moving the arms in a forward or outward motion should it be called. As it is ITOOTR, however, in my opinion allowing the ball to impact is not a foul and need not be called. ..Teach the young ladies the ability to chest the ball down or nod it on with their heads (bounced balls with little power to inflict damage)when their learning and confidence levels are ready. Do not rush a nervous player into trying these techniques until they can accept them in a safe manner. I use nerf balls, Huge beach balls or other similar types to introduce it in a fun manner. I have successfully had younger ladies at age 8 or 9 nodding the ball into open space on a bounced ball(not high balls or heavy hit balls screaming through the air). Heading balls can be dangerous to young players if they attempt it too soon or in an improper manner. If a young lady is not ready teach other tactics to take a ball down before you teach heading. Cheers

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Answer provided by Referee burbidge

Having played before refereeing makes me appreciate just how much it hurts to chest a ball improperly. In games, I tend to call only an arm-directed play where the arms move off the chest to deliberately change the ball's direction. The 'only-in-a-wall' rule appears too strict, therefore if the ball is not directed by the player, play on, keep the game moving. A good way to teach female players to control the ball with their chests is to encourage them to throw their shoulders back and pop the ball up in the air with their chests. Good luck!

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