Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

RSS FEED Subscribe Now!

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef
Panel Login

Question Number: 3162

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

RE: Traveling Team Under 12

Mike Dyer of Thurman, OH USA asks...

My question is in regards to what constitutes ball handling (a hhandball). It is my understanding that a player must make an intentional attempt to play the ball with a part of of the hand or arm (outside of the shoulder included as part of the arm) before it is considered handling. I a have taught my players to either lock their arms at their sides and not to turn their arms into the path or the ball or to pull their arms behind their backs when using their bodies to play the ball in the air. During a recent game, a direct shot was made against one of my defenders. The ball hit my defender in the stomach and continued accross his stomach glancing off of his forearm which was locked by his side. The referee called a handball on my defender stating that, unless my defenders arms are crossed in front of him to protect his private areas, it is a handball. I told the referee that, in order for a handling call to apply, there had to be an intentional play made on the ball. The referee also stated that, even incedental contact that gave an advantage to the player was considered a handball. I have always understood the self-protection rule to only apply while participating in a wall designed to block a direct kick..What is the determining factors associated with handling and what is the best position for the hands/arms to prevent a handling call?.Thanks,.Mike Dyer

Answer provided by Referee Stacy Kalstrom

Under Law 12 a handball is defined as deliberate handling of the ball. Handling involves deliberate contact between the player's hand or arm from the fingertips, upper arm and outer shoulder. According to the Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game (ATROTLOTG)12.10 Rule of Thumb for "Handling"."The rule of thumb for referees is that it is handling if the player plays the ball, but not handling if the ball plays the player. The referee should punish only deliberate handling of the ball, meaning only those actions when the player (and not the goalkeeper within his own penalty area) strikes or propels the ball with his hand or arm (shoulder to fingertips)."..Some of the comments that the referee made to you are common "Myths of The Game" and are covered in the video by USSF with the same name. A hand ball is only such when it is deliberate and incidental contact regardess of it's outcome is just that and is not to be called...Thanks for your question. Come visit our site again.

Read other questions answered by Referee Stacy Kalstrom

View Referee Stacy Kalstrom profile

Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

Hi Coach thanks for writing. Ms Kalstrom is absolutely correct. I would add that Advice To Referees goes even farther and states "The fact that a player may benefit from the ball contacting the hand does not transform the otherwise accidental event into an infringement." The Laws of the Game were not written to punish 12 year olds for insticntively protecting themselves. If you are accurate in what the referee said to you, he was absolutely incorrect and should re-read Advice and check out Myths of the Game. There are entirely too many handling calls in youth soccer and it drives players and coaches crazy. I would also say, as a caveat, that you only speak to referees about calls at the half and after a game is ended. Be polite and respectful or you will do no one any good.

Read other questions answered by Referee Keith Contarino

View Referee Keith Contarino profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 3162
Read other Q & A regarding Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.