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Guide Entry Text: 

One of the most basic rules in soccer relates to the use of hands and arms.

No players, except the goalkeeper, can use their hands while the ball is in play. If they do, it results in a free kick for the other team. Incidental contact with hands or arms is often acceptable.

Handballs and Associated Penalties (0:35):



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 Important Note: A handball must be "deliberate" to be called by the referee. This means that incidental contact (the ball hit a players arm at his side) is usually okay. Often, if the player's hand or arm is in an "unnatural" position (high in the air) or attempts to deflect the ball, it's called a handball. As always, it's a judgment call for the referee.

To Review:

  • No player, except the goalkeeper, can touch the ball with hands or arms during play.
  • This is called a "handball" and results in a free kick or penalty kick for the opposing team.
  • Handballs must be deemed "deliberate" by the referee. Incidental contact is okay.
  • The goalkeeper can only use hands or arms inside the penalty area.