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Soccer Rules: Goal Keeper Rules

The goalkeeper is a special player on the soccer field and has special rules that apply.

The goalkeeper is just like any other player, except when he/she is inside the penalty box. The number one main difference is that inside the penalty box the goalkeeper can touch the ball with any part of their body, most importantly their hands.

Rules for Goalies:

  • Once in possession of the ball, they have 6 seconds to pass it to another player.
  • They can kick or throw the ball to a teammate.
  • Goalies can not use their hands if the ball is kicked back to them from a teammate. This also applies on a throw-in, but is much less common.
  • Goalies must wear unique clothing different from the jerseys worn by the other players. This helps the referees to recognize the goalkeeper.
  • Once the goalkeeper puts the ball back into play on the ground, they can’t pick it up again with their hands.


The goalkeeper can be very vulnerable to injury. For this reason the referees tend to call fouls much tighter when the goalkeeper is involved.

When the goalkeeper has control of the ball, an opposing player may not touch it or try to kick it. If any part of the goalie is touching the ball, this is generally considered control.

Penalties can be severe including a goal kick and red card for players that endanger the goalkeeper.

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