Unintentional Handball in Penalty Box

handball rules

Handball plays a significant role in soccer, because it sets it apart from other sports and affects how the game is played. The rules about handball in soccer are often argued about and not very clear. 

So, understanding handball rules in soccer is essential for playing the game correctly. Normally, a handball occurs when the ball touches a player’s hand or arm unlawfully. 

And today we would like to talk about the common issues for unintentional handball in penalty. So, let’s start!

What is considered a Handball in Soccer? 

When the ball illegally makes contact with a player’s arm or hand, you can call it handball in soccer. Over time, the rules about handballs have changed. If a player touches the ball on purpose to help their team score, like before a goal, it’s seen as intentional. 

However, if the ball hits the player’s leg first before touching their hand or arm, it’s not called a handball. When there’s a handball in the penalty area, it could lead to a penalty kick or a red card if it stops a clear chance to score a goal. You should know and follow the handball rules to play soccer fairly.

Unintentional Handball in Penalty Box

An unintentional handball that occurs in the penalty area can result in various outcomes depending on the circumstances and the rules applied:

Direct Free Kick (or Penalty Kick)

If a player commits an unintentional handball offense that directly leads to a goal-scoring opportunity, such as blocking a shot with their hand or arm, the opposing team may be awarded a direct free kick or a penalty kick. This decision is typically made by the referee based on the Laws of the Game and the specific regulations of the competition.

No Offense

In some cases, a handball may be deemed unintentional or not an offense according to the rules. For example, if the ball accidentally touches a player’s hand or arm when it is in a natural position or the player has no time to react, the referee may decide not to penalize the offense.


Handball decisions can be subjective and depend on the interpretation of the referee. The laws of the game have evolved to clarify what constitutes a handball offense and when a handball should be penalized, but there can still be debates and controversies over certain decisions.

Video Assistance

In some professional competitions, video assistant referees (VAR) may be used to review and make decisions on handball incidents. This technology helps provide more accurate and consistent decisions, especially in critical moments like penalty decisions.


In soccer, if the ball touches a player’s hand or arm on purpose or by accident, it’s called a handball. But nowadays, they consider whether a player did it on purpose or not.

Formerly, handballs can be either clear punishable violations or more subjective ones. When players purposely handle the ball to get an advantage or score, referees pay close attention. Video referees also help for deciding in a tough situation.

If the ball touches your arm anywhere from the shoulder to your fingertips, it’s considered a handball. It covers the upper arm, forearm, and hand. So, if the ball touches any of these parts, it might be considered a handball, depending on what the referee thinks.

If the ball hits the leg first, it’s not a handball unless the arm is in a strange position.

Soccer’s governing bodies continuously updated the game rules so that you can ensure fairness and maintain the honesty of the game.


Though the game has simple rules, players often make common mistakes that can affect their performance. And they are:

  • Dribbling with a Rigid Wrist: 

One of the most common mistakes players make in handball is maintaining a rigid wrist while dribbling. If your wrist is flexible, it helps you control the ball better. That means you can react quickly to defenders and find chances to score. On the other hand, when a player keeps his wrists stiff, he limits his ability to move the ball well. As a result, you can lose possession more often and face tougher defense.

  • Excessively Focused on the Ball: 

Another common mistake is focusing too much on the ball, and forgetting to look around at the field to predict what teammates might do next. You must keep an eye on the ball because it is important. At the same time,  a player needs to pay attention to his teammates and the opponents also. Because it helps them decide whether to pass the ball or be ready to defend. And focusing too much on just the ball can make you miss out on what’s happening around you. 

  • Succumbing to Falls: 

During intense matches, players might trip or bump into each other. In that case they break the rules accidentally.  If a player falls while stretching out their arms, it raises the chances of getting penalized for a handball. But referees might see it as trying to stop the ball or cheat in some way. If You stay steady and calm in tough moments, you can avoid accidental handball fouls,

  • Lack of Awareness: 

Some players don’t have awareness of handball rules. So they make mistakes without realizing or they forget about it. You should know the rules before you start playing a game. Coaches like the handball experts, teaching players should have knowledge about all the procedures.  They need to focus on the right moves and where to be on the field to avoid messing up.

  • Failure to Adjust Defensive Posture: 

Sometimes, defenders accidentally break the handball rules. Because they can’t move their arms or body properly when the other team attacks. When defenders stick their arms out or extend, they will increase their chances of committing handball fouls. If you stay in a strong defensive position, your body stops accidental handball fouls.


If you’re covering your face and the ball accidentally hits your hands, it’s not considered a handball. The player’s main goal is to protect themselves rather than trying to gain an unfair advantage. 

You can keep your arms close to your body while shielding your face. It is really important to be clear about the rules and regulations for each player. If you follow all these instructions perfectly, you can keep yourself safe without accidentally breaking the handball rule.

Final Words 

Handball rules are crucial in soccer, and that sets it apart from other sports. There is a lot of confusion about unintentional handball in penalty, because people don’t follow the rules correctly.

When handballs happen in youth soccer, it might feel discouraging, but it’s simply a natural part of the game. If you need to enhance your skills, practice more and be aware of the rules.