Thursday, 23 May 2024

High Kick in Soccer: Understanding the Rules and Implications

Van Dijk

Soccer games often feature intense moments, and high kick fouls are no exception. These fouls can lead to penalties, including yellow or red cards, and sometimes even result in players being taken off the field. However, it’s important to remember that these rules are in place to ensure fair play and the safety of all players involved.

What Constitutes a High Kick?

A high kick in soccer occurs when a player swings their foot near or above the waist of an opponent. While the player is usually off the ground during these fouls, it’s not always the case.

Determining the Type of Foul

Whether a player leads with the studs of their boots or makes contact with another player, high kicks are considered fouls. These fouls fall into two categories: direct free kick offenses and indirect free kick offenses.

Direct free kicks are more common and are called when two players have illegal contact outside the normal bounds of play. While soccer is not as contact-heavy as other sports, some level of unavoidable touching is expected when players go after the ball.

Excessive contact, such as tripping, tackling, or striking, is considered a foul. In these cases, the fouled player takes the free kick from the spot of the foul. If they can score directly from the kick, the goal counts.

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Indirect free kicks are awarded when a player plays in a dangerous manner. High kicks fall under this category, and the player who was fouled must pass the ball to another player before play continues.

Although direct free kicks are seen as more severe, high kick fouls can be incredibly dangerous, especially when contact is made with the head or face of another player.

To Card or Not To Card?

Yellow Card

Depending on the severity and type of foul, players can be penalized with either a yellow or red card. While yellow cards are less serious, receiving two in one match results in a red card and immediate ejection.

For particularly egregious fouls, a player can receive an immediate red card and be sent off the field. Red cards can be issued for serious foul play or violent conduct. Referees must carefully consider the circumstances and implications before making this decision.

Red cards can have significant consequences, not only for the current game but also for future matches. In some leagues, players who receive red cards may be ineligible for subsequent games.

Bicycle/Scissor Kicks

Bicycle Kick

Bicycle kicks, or scissor kicks, are a fan-favorite move that involves players kicking the ball while airborne, often with their legs above their waist. These moves are legal as long as they take place in open space and don’t endanger other players. Contact during bicycle kicks is usually not penalized unless a foul is called.

Notable Injuries from High Kicks

Throughout the years, some players have unfortunately experienced injuries from dangerous high kicks. These include Henrik Larsson (jaw fracture), Gary Mabbutt (skull fracture), and Peter Cech (skull fracture). However, with enhanced refereeing and increased awareness, the game is continually striving to create a safer environment.

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Impact of High Kicks on Youth Soccer

The safety of young players is a top priority in youth soccer leagues. Coaches emphasize awareness of high kicks, and regulations often exist to minimize high-risk moves. Ground-based play is encouraged, reducing the temptation for high-flying acrobatics.

Protective Gear Against High Kicks

Safety is of utmost importance, and protective gear can help reduce the risk of injuries from high kicks. Though not directly countering high kicks, headgear, mouthguards, and shin guards play a crucial role in safeguarding players.

While soccer is a physical game, it’s essential for players to prioritize their safety and the safety of others by keeping their kicks low. By following the rules and playing responsibly, everyone can enjoy the beautiful game without unnecessary risks.


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