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Question Number: 32736

High School 9/22/2018

RE: High School

Billy Ofe of Bluefield, Virginia USA asks...

Should a soccer official step off 10 yards in order for the defense to set a wall?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Bill,
it is done in ceremonial settings but no real reason as the LOTG do state a MINIMUM of ten yards so technically I take rather large steps to ensure ten is the least of the distance. I am pretty good backwards pacing as just eyeballing ten and the new spray foam it becomes ridiculously easy. The team taking the free kick has right to go quickly but risk it a bit if the opposition is not YET withdrawn ten. That said the opposition must be in the process of backing away not stalling or cutting across the line of passing or shooting opportunities. Defenders have NO rights other than for the referee to not confuse them with poor mechanics. As an AR saw a referee start counting the steps and the kick occurs, they score. Defenders furious referee was not apologetic claiming he was simply showing them where ten yards were he was not interfering. I begged to differ in the post game because it is not STANDARD behaviour it created a false impression. I have no regret for team taking a kick, catching them unaware but for a referee to be walking them back in a wall setting, the claim of, I did not say we were waiting for the whistle reeks of injustice.


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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

It is up to the defending team is to get 10 yards from the ball. Any defender that does not get the 10 yards can be cautioned (yellow card) for encroachment. Usually a verbal warning is sufficient to get defenders to move 10 yards from the ball. However, if the kicking team takes a quick kick as in NFHS 13.3.1, the defending team does not have to be 10 yards but they must be moving away from the ball.

As to your question, very often the kicking team will ask the referee to get the defending team 10 yards from the ball. When this is done the referee should tell the kicker to wait for the whistle and then set the 10 yard line. I personally do not walk it. From experience, I have a good idea where the 10 yards should be and go right there to set up the line.

When all defenders are on or behind the line, I then blow the whistle as is required in Rule 9.1.3.

Once the whistle is sounded, the ball can be kicked. If a defender moves closer than the 10 yards after the whistle and before the ball is kicked, the whistle is to be sounded, the clock stopped, and the defender cautioned for encroachment.

Rather than step off the 10 yards, I recommend that you learn to judge the distance. Judging the 10 yards is often taught at many high school clinics, but can easily be learned on your own.

I hope this helps and you have a very successful fall season.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Billy
Teams are entitled to 10 yards at a free kick. Sometimes they chose not to avail of this and play should continue.
Where a team asks for 10 yards the referee should facilitate that. How is a personal preference and in some ways dictated by local practise.
In our Leagues pacing is the *accepted* method although I can easily judge 10 yards from years of experience. When further away from goal in the non scoring area I never pace it. Close to the penalty area I do pace it to prevent squabbling. A few seasons ago I did one by judgment in the attacking area and the attacking team complained so much that I decided to pace it. They were already behind and time was a factor. I went across and paced it to find 10 yards to the wall. Obviously I had a wry smile plus they wasted the time taken!

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