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Question Number: 32842

Law 15 - The Throw In 10/26/2018

RE: rec Under 17

Rob of Jacksonville, Fl USA asks...

I have heard two different interpretations on a correct/incorrect throw in. When the ball is released, both feet must be on the ground; however, once the ball leaves the hands, can the thrower lift a foot? I believe it was on this website (a few years ago) I read a compelling essay discussing how it was impossible for the human eye to look at the thrower's hands and feet at the same time so it was also impossible to determine conclusively an incorrect throw in. Then again, if it is a violation if the foot is raised at any point, this a moot point. Thks...

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Rob
YES once the ball is released the foot can move as he has to step back into the FOP . He can not do that unless his foot moves! In cases where ball release and foot leg lift are tight much like in offside let it go, likely not a big deal . I usually have the AR watch along the touchline for the ball in & out . As CR I generally watch the mechanics. I look for OBVIOUS Faults not superficial ones.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Bob,
The moment the ball is released the throw in is complete, so the throw in requirements no longer apply. So yes, the foot can be lifted after release.
What gets problematic is when players have a continuous striding motion so they're lifting their foot as they release but (probably) still have it on the ground at the moment of release. Very difficult to tell if they're doing the right thing or not.
On one hand, conventional wisdom is that you don't penalise it unless you're 100% certain - and you let the little stuff go. On the other hand, it's still a very poor throw-in mechanic and if you're going to be pushing the envelope every throw, I have no sympathy for the player eventually getting penalised - and referees allegedly missing foul throws can sometimes cause big problems at grassroots.
Sometimes after the first one or two you can remind the player to 'watch the feet'. Then at least if you decide they've pushed the envelope too much, too many times it's easier to sell it when you do pull them up.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Rob
Once the ball is released from the hands the player is free to lift his foot.
The challenge as you point out is determining release and foot movement at the same time.
In that regard we look to see that both feet are planted or one being dragged along the ground while the throwing action is happening.
The one that I look out for the the player running while taking a throw. Unless there is a definite foot pause or an exaggerated trailing foot drag I make the determination that one foot has to be off the ground. That generally happens while the player is going perpendicular to the line whereas facing the line usually results in a brief stop at the touchline at the moment of the throw.
At the higher levels you will see a thrower's momentum carry him over the touchline into the field of play after the ball has gone. That is perfectly legal. The key for me is that there is a clear *stop* action at the moment of the throw generally close to the line. It will be a split second but none the less defined. Otherwise it is a *running* throw in which typically has a raised foot which is not a legal action. I pull up those generally without complaint.
I once knew a referee who was ultra strict on foot faults at TIs. He would blew up anything that was not a complete double foot stop. Players learned very quickly that he would call those so they adjusted accordingly. After the whistle he used to do a small foot dance of lifting his feet. Guaranteed at least 2/3 every game. It was his little idiosyncrasy

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Rob,
Of course the player is free to move their feet (which includes lifting them) once the ball has been released. Logically this has to be true - if the player were not allowed to move/lift their feet after releasing the ball, they would be stuck on the touchline for the remainder of the game.

All the stipulations in Law 15 regarding foot position apply exclusively (in the words of the law) ''At the moment of delivering the ball.'' Before the moment of delivery, the feet do not have to be on the ground - after the moment of delivery they don't have to be on the ground either. It's only at the exact moment the ball is released that they have to be. This is why for instance when a player is taking a throw-in using a walking or running motion, as coaches we advise them to 'drag' their back foot - because it usually ensures that the foot does leave the ground as the throw is being delivered.

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