Soccer by the Rules – Thow-in Basics

By Joe Manjone, Ed. D.

A throw-in is awarded when the ball last touched a member of the opposing team before the entire ball passes beyond the touchline either in the air or on the ground.

  • For the ball to be out of play, the entire ball must have crossed completely over the touchline and through the vertical plane above the outside edge of the touchline (sideline).
  • If any part of the ball is touching or is in the vertical plane above the touchline, it is still in play. Often the ball will roll on the touchline and not cross over and go out of play.
  • The assistant referee or referee in charge of the sideline must be positioned on the line in order to determine if the ball has completely crossed over the line, and signal or whistle (no whistle is necessary if it is obvious that the ball has completely crossed the touchline) that the ball is out of play, and then signal the direction of the throw-in which also identifies the team that will take the throw-in.

A goal may not be scored directly from a throw-in.

  • If an untouched (by either team) throw-in goes into the opponent’s goal, a goal kick will be awarded to the opponent of the thrower. 
  • If an untouched throw-in, goes into the throwing team’s goal, a corner kick will be awarded to the opponents.
  • Often a throw-in towards an opponent’s goal goes into a group of players that surround the goal.  It is important to watch for touching of the ball, because if the ball goes into the goal untouched, no goal is scored.
  • Also, be alert for first touching by the goal keeper of the team making the throw-in.  As indicated in rule 12-7-4,

A goalkeeper shall not touch the ball with his/her hands when receiving it directly from a throw-in by a teammate.

The ball shall be thrown in any direction from the point where it crossed the touch line by a player who is facing the field of play and has both feet touching the ground  on or behind the touchline.

  • When the player is throwing the ball in to play, make certain that both feet are on the ground and behind the touchline when the ball is released from the thrower’s hand.
  • Although part of the foot is in the field of play, the foot is considered to be on the touchline and legal if any part of the foot is touching the touchline; however, actual touching of the ground, not breaking the plain, is required.
  • Make certain that the foot of the thrower has not been lifted off the ground at the time that the ball is released.
  • Make certain that the ball is thrown in from the point that it went out of bounds, The thrower is responsible for knowing the spot.  If the thrower throws the ball from an incorrect spot, this is a violation and the ball is to be given to the opponent at the original correct spot.  Do not allow the thrower to have a second throw in.

The thrower shall use both hands (unless because of a physical impairment can only use one hand) and deliver the from behind and over the head in one continuous motion.

  • Key points here is that the ball must be thrown with both hands (unless a physical impairment exists).
  • Both hands must be on the ball and come forward with the ball to make the throw.
  • Watch for throws that are illegally made with one hand rather than both hands.
  • The throw has to start behind the head, come over the head and then release the ball. 
  • The throw has to be continuous – stopping part way and then continuing is not permitted.
  • Watch for throwers illegally starting the throw on top of rather than behind the head.
  • Be alert for players illegally stopping the throw short and releasing the  ball from the top of the head.

If a throw-in is not done properly, a throw-in is awarded to the opponent at the spot of the foul (improper throw-in).

While a throw-in is being taken, an opponent shall neither interfere with nor in any way impede the actions of the thrower and shall stand at least two yards from the  point at which the throw-in is being taken.

  • The opponent of the thrower must stand at least two yards from the spot of the throw-in and not jump, wave arms or do anything else that might be construed as interfering with or impeding the throw-in.

A player that interferes with or impedes a throw-in is to be cautioned for unsporting conduct.

If on the throw-in, the ball fails to enter the field of play, the ball is awarded to the opponent at the spot of the infraction.

  • If the throw-in hits the ground outside the touchline prior to going onto the field or breaking the plane of the touchline, high school rules require that the opponent of the thrower be awarded a throw-in at the spot where the ball was released by thrower.
  • Allowing the thrower to retake the throw-in is a mistake that often occurs because officials get confused with the rule that differs in other organizations. Don’t make this mistake.

On a throw-in, the ball is playable when it has left the hands of the thrower and any part of it breaks the plane of the touchline.  Once the throw-in is in play, it can be played by either team, but the thrower may not play the ball until it has been touched by another player.

  • Watch for the ball breaking the plane and then flying or rolling out of bounds before touching a player in bounds.  The opponents of the thrower would then be given a throw-in at the spot where the ball crossed back over the touchline.
  • The thrower playing the ball before it has been touched by another player is a foul and is penalized with an indirect kick for the opponents.

Follow the above procedures in every high school game you work, make certain your partners do the same. Help teams know and get used to the high school throw-in rules.

If you would like to suggest a high school soccer rules change or if you have any questions about this rule or any high school rule, please e-mail me at [email protected]