Stutter Step & Injured Player Removal

Published on August 12, 2014


By Joe Manjone, Ed. D.

The NFHS has received numerous requests concerning the new Injured Player Removal Rule and the Point of Emphasis regarding the kicker’s interruption of the approach or the taking of the stutter step by the kicker during the taking of the penalty kick.

The following clarifications and interpretations of the rules regarding these two instances have recently been released by the NFHS. These explanations should help you to better understand the rules, why they were implemented and how the situations are to be handled.

First, the stutter step or an interruption of the approach during the taking of a penalty kick. The problem that many officials seem to be having is that they are viewing the stutter step as an infringement by the attacking team, which would not result in a re-kick unless a goal is scored. However the Point of Emphasis on page 72 of the NFHS Rules book states that there is to be a re-kick regardless of whether a goal is scored or not. Why is this a re-kick?

Note that in 14-1-2&3, penalty kick infringements do not occur until the ball is kicked. Using a stutter step during the penalty kick is not an infringement; it is improperly putting the ball into play similar to kicking the kick-off backward instead of forward or a goal kick not clearing the penalty area.

All high school soccer officials need to recognize that the stutter step is not an infringement, it is an improper penalty kick. Just as players can be warned and then carded for improperly kicking off or making improper goal kicks, the player making a stutter step on the penalty kick can be warned and carded for a second stutter step.

Hopefully the above NFHS rule interpretation will result in a better understanding of the stutter step and the reason for an ensuing re-kick.

Now, the removal of injured players.  There have been many questions from officials wanting to know what the referee was to do when a player was injured and/or down.  The following should clarify the reasons for the change in the inured player removal rule and what is expected of the referee.

The following are the rationale and guidelines discussed by the NFHS soccer rules committee when considering and implementing the new injured player removal rule:

  1. The safety of the injured or apparently injured player not the status of the game, the importance of the player or the delay caused by the removal of the player is of upmost importance.
  2. Referees are not approved health care providers.
  3. There were numerous instances cited where players with broken bones, concussions and other injuries needing immediate attention were allowed   to remain in the game by the referee because the player indicated that they were okay.
  4. If a player or goalkeeper is down and not immediately getting up or appearing to immediately get up, the clock should be stopped and the player including goalkeepers should be attended to and/or removed from the field.
  5. Referees should not delay in getting stopping the clock and having the player or goalkeeper checked by an approved health care provider.
  6. The player or goalkeeper is to then leave the game but may come back at the next opportunity to substitute or stoppage (if the team played short).

Hopefully the above NFHS rule interpretation will result in a better understanding of the need for the game to be immediately stopped and the injured or possibly injured player removed from the game.

Following the above rules and recommended procedures in every high school game you work and making certain your partners do the same will provide the required consistency and make each game a better experience for all participants.

Please contact Joe Manjone at [email protected] if you have any questions about the above or any high school soccer rule.

Dr. Joe Manjone is the former chair of the NFHS Soccer Rules Committee.

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