When Can a Soccer Goalie Use His Hands?

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In many respects, the goalie is the most important player on a soccer field. Without him, a sport with famously low scores would be vastly different. The goalie has special privileges compared to the other players on the field, including the ability to use his hands to control the ball. This privilege, however, has its restrictions. If you are a goalie on a soccer team, know when you are legally allowed to use your hands. Learn the rules of soccer and avoid penalties that could cost your team.

  • Use your hands when you are in your own penalty box, the white rectangle in front of the goal. If a member of the opposing team kicks the ball to you, use your hands to block the shot or throw the ball back to a teammate. After you have released the ball, you may not touch it again with your hands until another player has touched it.

  • Touch the ball with your hands legally if a member of your team kicks it to you accidentally. You may not use your hands to touch it if a teammate kicks it to you deliberately, or if he passes it to you on a throw-in. Use your hands if a teammate passes the ball to you using a body part other than the foot, such as the knee or head.

  • Bring the ball into the penalty box with your foot and use your hands legally. You may not pick up the ball when it is outside of the box, but as long as you use your feet to bring it back into legal territory, you may pick it up once the ball is back inside the penalty box. After you have picked it up, the same rules apply as when an opposing player kicks it to you.

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