In addition, coaches must teach young players to overcome the natural tendency to protect the body from a fast-moving ball, particularly the face, by blocking it with their hands. Instead, they must be taught that they may first duck or turn the body but, as they get older, they must learn to aggressively strike, deflect, or absorb the pace of, the ball.
As a rule, raising your arms to protect yourself from a speeding ball is not classed as intentional handball. Making that instant distinction is a crucial part of good soccer refereeing. It does not matter how many years of experience you have in FIFA football rules as a Premiership or International referee.
A handball should not be awarded if a player is ruled to have handled the ball accidentally. This refers to a player either attempting to protect himself from injury, for example by placing the hands in front of the face and then being hit by the ball, or a player being hit on the arm by the ball without moving towards the ball and without being able to move out of the way.
^^ What he said. Distance, speed, time, age, skill level are all key. But I really do think the best key word is "instinctive." When a 10-year-old sees a ball suddenly come fast and hard at his face, the instinct is clearly to protect the face. There is no thought (i.e. no deliberate act), there is simply an instinctive action.
Law 12 Fouls and Misconduct. Direct and indirect free kicks and penalty kicks can only be awarded for offences committed when the ball is in play. Direct free kick. A direct free kick is awarded if a player commits any of the following offences against an opponent in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive ...
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