How to Avoid Giving Up a Handball Foul

This famous Thierry Henry handball went uncalled and led to a major France victory - (Photo:

The handball foul is usually a minor one, but it can be an absolute disaster if it occurs in your team’s penalty box.  One of the most dreadful ways in which to concede a penalty kick, a game can quickly be lost if someone carelessly lets the ball touch their hand.  But with a clutter in the box and often times a rather manic situation where the ball bounces off everyone, your hands could connect with the ball by a complete accident.  What are some ways to ensure that your team won’t be severely punished in such a moment?

Firstly, you need to make sure that your arms aren’t in a position where they will likely come across the ball.  Therefore, keep them down and at your side.  If your hands are up and someone’s shot clamors off them, it won’t matter that the contact was incidental; your hand prevented the shot from going on target to the goal.  In blocking an obvious shot with your hand, a penalty will be awarded and you could possibly even get sent off.  Therefore, take care to keep your arms and hands down and away from areas that would be beneficial to your team.

Another problem players sometimes have is when they instinctually move their arms up in order to block the path of the ball.  This can happen in an instant without your even thinking about it, but the result will be a penalty again.

The only way to maintain innocence through an incidental handball is if your hands are down and at your sides.  This way even if the ball accidentally comes into contact with your arms, you cannot be blamed for trying to obstruct it.  You arms are in a natural position and the contact was likely incidental.

The big problem with handballs in the penalty box is that the result is often entirely up to the referee.  Many players have been unfortunate villains because the ball hit them when they had no intention of doing so and were merely the victims of a random bounce of the soccer ball.  However, a smart player knows how to limit those occurrences from happening and they do wise to keep their hands down.

Also, become more skilled at shifting your body or legs towards positions that will help you block a shot.  Run at the player about to shoot to reduce their window of aim and leap where you feel the shot is headed.  Depending on where you are located in comparison to the player and how far away you are, you may have a few moments to shift your body into a good blocking position.

If you do end up letting the ball hit your arm, even in a position that you know should be a foul, don’t let admit to it.  Carry on like nothing has happened.  If the referee makes the penalty call, that’s too bad.  But don’t make it an easy call by immediately stopping and apologizing.  Just keep playing and defend well.  Remember, you don’t make the calls; the ref does.  So if you know a call should be made against you, don’t alert anyone to what you have done!

Things happen fast in soccer and so do handballs.  Therefore, make sure that you are well prepared to handle such situations in a mature manner.  At practice, coaches should teach players how to block through drills so that they can get some experience making blocks without the use of their hands.  If such things are never practiced, you will find yourself often guilty of making a handball and at the mercy of the referee!


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