Keeping the ball in play is vital to the game of soccer. Avoid losing possession of the ball or missing out on an opportunity to score due to the ball not being “in play” by learning how to determine when a soccer ball is out of bounds.
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What Does Out of Bounds Mean?
In the game of soccer, out of bounds means that the ball is outside the field of play.
When the ball goes out of bounds, game play is quickly restarted. How game play restarts depends upon where the ball went out of bounds and which team was the last to touch the ball.
When is a Ball Out of Bounds in Soccer?
The position of the ball determines out of bounds in the game of soccer. For a ball to be considered out of bounds, the entire ball must fully cross the line.
If the ball is just on the line and has not completely crossed the line, it is still considered in play. Game play will not stop until the ball has fully crossed the line.
In the picture below, the ball is still in play because it has not fully crossed the line:
Does the Positioning of the Player Matter for the Ball to Be Out of Bounds?
No, the positioning of the player does not matter for the ball to be considered in bounds or out of bounds. A player could be standing completely outside of the line or standing with one foot on the line and it wouldn’t affect whether the ball was in play or out of bounds.
The positioning of the player doesn’t matter because the ball determines out of bounds.
How is Play Restarted After the Ball is Out of Bounds?
There are three ways the ball is returned to play after it goes out of bounds. The way that the game is restarted depends upon where the ball crossed the line and what team kicked it out of bounds or was the last to touch it before it went out of bounds.
A throw-in occurs when the ball crosses the side lines. The opposing team of the player who was the last to touch the ball before it went out of bounds is the team to take the throw in. There are very specific rules that must be followed for throw-ins. Click here to read our article about throw-in and the rules.
A corner kick, where the ball is placed in the corner of the field and kicked into play, is awarded when the ball crosses the goal line but a goal is not scored. The ball can cross the line by being kicked too far left or right. It can also occur if the ball is kicked over the goal.
A corner kick is awarded when the defending team is the last to touch the ball before it goes out of bounds. In other words, if it is the team’s goal they are defending and the ball goes over the goal line after they touched it, a corner kick would be awarded to the opposing team or the team who is trying to score into that goal.
A goal kick is awarded when the attacking team, the team trying to score, is the last to touch the ball when it is kicked over the goal line. The goal kick is awarded to the opposing team.
A goal kick must be taken from the goal area box. Any player on the team can take a goal kick.
Is the Ball Out of Bounds in the Air?
Yes. The ball is considered out of bounds whether it is in the air or on the ground. It all depends upon the positioning of the ball not whether it is on the ground or in the air.
Remember, when it comes to determining if a ball is in play or out of bounds in the game of soccer it all depends upon the positioning of the ball. If the entire ball has not crossed the line, it is still in play. Once the entire ball crosses the line, whether the ball is in the air or on the ground, it is out of bounds and the rules of play will determine how the game restarts.