Free kick

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A free kick is an action used in several codes of football to restart play with the kicking of a ball into the field of play.

Association football[edit]

In association football, a direct free kick is a method of restarting the game following a foul. A goal may be scored directly against the opposing side without the ball having first touched another player. This is opposed to an indirect free kick where the ball must contact another player before a goal is scored. A direct free kick is awarded when a player commits a foul outside their own penalty area (for offsides, etc., an indirect free kick is awarded).[1]

An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team when a player infringes certain technical requirements of the laws (e.g. touching the ball a second time following a restart, or the keeper touching the ball with his hands when a teammate has used his foot to pass it back to the keeper). An indirect free kick is also awarded to the opposing team when play is stopped to caution or send-off a player when no specific foul has occurred (e.g. when play is stopped to caution a player for dissenting the decision of the referee). The most common cause is the offside offence.[2]

Unlike a direct free kick, an offence punishable by an indirect free kick does not result in a penalty kick when it occurs in the penalty area; rather, it continues to be taken as an indirect free kick.[2]

American football[edit]

In American football, after a safety is scored, the ball is put into play by a free kick. The team that was scored upon must kick the ball from their own 20-yard line and can punt, drop kick, or place kick the ball. In professional play, a kicking tee cannot be used – however, a tee can be used in high school or college football. Once the ball has been kicked, it can be caught and advanced by any member of the receiving team, and it can be recovered by the kicking team if the ball travels at least 10 yards and bounces at least once or a player of the receiving team touches the ball.[3][4]

In Canadian football, after scoring a safety touch, the scoring team has the option of taking control of the ball and beginning play from their own 35-yard line, kicking the ball off from their 35-yard line, or accepting a kickoff from the 25-yard line of the team that conceded the score.[5] If a kickoff is chosen it must be a place kick, and the ball can be held, placed on the ground, or placed on a tee prior to the kick. As in American football, the ball must go at least ten yards before it can be recovered by the kicking team.[6]

Another example occurring in American football is the fair catch kick, a field goal attempted freely from the spot of a fair catch. Although the National Football League (NFL) does not consider the play a free kick, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and media analysts regard it as being a free kick. The kick must be either a place kick or a drop kick, and if it passes over the crossbar and between the goalposts of the defensive team's goal, a field goal, worth three points, is scored to the offensive team.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "When is a direct free-kick awarded?". BBC Sport. 1 September 2005. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
  2. ^ a b "BBC SPORT | Football | Laws & Equipment | When is a free-kick indirect?". BBC News. 2005-09-01. Retrieved 2008-12-07.
  3. ^ NFL Rules 2012, pp. 29–30.
  4. ^ NCAA Rule, 52–53">NFHS Rules 2012, pp. 15, 46, 52–53.
  5. ^ CFL Rules 2011, p. 29.
  6. ^ CFL Rules 2011, pp. 36–39.

External links[edit]