There are many events that make up a soccer game, but something you’ll see in almost every match is the free kick. The free-kick is the ideal goal-scoring opportunity, so if your team has been having a bad game, one successful free-kick can turn the whole thing around.
Not familiar with the laws of the free kick? In this article, we’ll be walking you through the ins and outs of this iconic event, including how free kicks work, the differences between indirect and free kicks, and more.
What Is A Free Kick In Soccer?
In soccer, a free kick is a way to restart the game after a foul has occurred during play. Any player is eligible to take a free kick, but defenders must be situated at least 10 yards from the ball.
The type of foul committed will determine whether players can take a direct free kick or an indirect free kick. Players must take their free kick from the exact place the foul occurred, and the game doesn’t restart until the ball moves.
Free kicks are often one of the most exciting and intense parts of the game. For some teams, they can be a make-or-break move, and fans are often left on the edge of their seats waiting for the free kick to decide their fate.
If your team has been in possession of the ball, only to have the ball taken away from them illegally, you’ll be entitled to a free kick.
The player on the receiving end of the offense is always the one to get the free kick – think of it as a form of justice for the player, and team, that have been wronged in the game.
Once the referee has decided to award a free kick, the game stops and the team gets ready to take their free kick.
When Are Free Kicks Awarded In Soccer?
Free kicks are awarded when the opposing team has committed an offense. But what exactly constitutes an offense, and how do you know whether or not you’re entitled to a free kick?
There are many things a player can do that are classified as an offense. Here are a few examples of reckless, excessive, or unfair actions that can warrant a free kick:
- Jumping on, or at, another player
- Kicking or attempting to kick another player
- Tackling or challenging a player on the field
- Tripping or attempting to trip another player
- Pushing a player
- Striking or attempting to strike a player (this includes head-butting)
- Spitting at a player
- Holding a player in place to prevent them from moving
This is not an exhaustive list of offenses, and there are more that warrant a free kick. If an offense is serious enough, a yellow card may be given to the offending player.
In soccer, a yellow card is presented by the referee as a caution to the player who’s committed an offense, and they can bring order to the often chaotic games we see on the field.
How Does A Free Kick Work?
To perform a free-kick, the soccer ball must be placed on the ground exactly where the offense happened. All opponents must maintain a 10-yard distance from the ball until the ball starts moving, then the game can continue.
If you’re taking a free kick, you are not permitted to touch the ball again until it has been touched by another player. Five of the most important rules in the free kick book include:
- The free kick must be taken from the exact place where the offense occurred
- The ball must move when kicked
- The ball should be completely stationary before it’s kicked
- Opponents must be 10 yards away from the ball when the player takes the free kick
- The player awarded the free kick cannot touch the ball again until it has been touched by another player
If these rules are broken, the referee may ask the player to retake the kick, or they can award a free kick to the opposition as the other team has now committed an offense by failing to follow the rules of the free kick.
Any player is eligible to take a free kick, and it doesn’t have to be the player to whom the offense was committed again.
A soccer team will often decide which player will take a free kick before the game starts, and free kicks are an important part of training for all players.
The Indirect vs Direct Free Kick
There are two types of free kick: direct and indirect, but what do these mean? Essentially, a player can score a goal with a direct kick, but not with an indirect kick.
Direct Free Kick
Direct free kicks are the most common free kicks issued in a game of soccer. Most offenses warrant a direct kick rather than an indirect one.
With a direct kick, the player can score a goal directly from the kick, and it doesn’t need to come into contact with another player before it reaches the goal.
Direct free kicks are usually issued for handball offenses, the use of excessive force, and holding or impeding an opponent.
Indirect Free Kick
Indirect free kicks are not as common, and we often don’t see them much in soccer games. However, they’re still very much a part of the game, and they can be awarded by the referee if necessary.
With an indirect free kick, the player taking the shot cannot score a goal from the kick. Once the ball starts moving, it MUST touch another player before a goal can be scored.
Some players use a completely lawful loophole to get around this, by having one player roll the ball to another player, who will then shoot the ball into the goal. Because the ball has made contact with another player, this is an entirely legal action.
Free kicks are one of the most intense, hair-rising moments of any soccer game (see also ‘Best Moments In Soccer‘).
We hope this guide has helped you get to grips with the rules of the free kick – it’s not as complex as you might think, and if you shoot the ball correctly, you may be in with a chance of securing that deciding goal!