Soccer by the Rules – Drop Ball
By: Joe Manjone, Ed. D.
Rule 18-1-1j defines Drop Ball as a method by which a dead ball becomes alive. An official drops the ball to the ground. When the ball strikes the ground, it becomes alive and may be played by anyone. This is a straight forward definition but when a drop ball is to be employed and where the ball should be dropped are sometimes confusing to officials, and as a result, officials will award free kicks or throw-ins as restarts, rather than the drop ball. Hopefully, the below will provide an understanding of the drop ball including when it should be utilized and the spot where the drop should occur.
Rule 9-2-1 indicates when a drop ball should be utilized:
The game is restarted with a drop ball:
a. when the ball is caused to go out-of-bounds by two opponents simultaneously.
b. when the ball becomes deflated. (please note that starting in the fall of 2012 that when a ball becomes deflated during the taking of a penalty kick, the kick is to be retaken).
c. following a temporary suspension of play for an injury or unusual situation in which no team has clear possession of the ball (once again, starting in the fall of 2012, if an unusual situation occurs during the taking of a penalty kick, the kick is to be retaken).
d. When simultaneous fouls of the same degree occur by opponents.
When the ball is caused to go out-of-bounds by two opponents simultaneously and you are not certain who is responsible for the ball going out of bounds is probably the most common cause of the need for a drop ball. As indicated in Rule 9-2-2: If the ball was caused to go out of bounds by two opponents simultaneously, the ball is to be dropped five yards inside the boundary line (from the spot where the ball when out of bounds) unless this is the goal area (in which case, it shall be dropped on that part of the goal area line which runs parallel to the goal line nearest the location where the ball crossed the goal line)
When the ball becomes deflated, as indicated in Rule 9-2-2, the drop should be taken from the spot where the ball became deflated unless the deflation occurred in the goal area which would cause the ball to be dropped at the top of the goal areas closest to where the deflation occurred.
Following a temporary suspension of play for an injury if neither team was in possession, the drop ball as indicated in Rule 9-2-2 should be taken from the spot of the ball (unless the ball was in the goal area) at the time the suspension of play for the injury occurred. As the referee, you must be aware where the ball is when you suspend play. Also, do not delay suspending play for an injury while waiting for a team to get possession. Getting an injury taken care of is most important – remember that the drop ball is available for the restart in this situation.
Following a temporary suspension of play for an unusual situation such as a suspension due to the weather, an inadvertent whistle by the referee, a dog running on the field, a ball coming onto the field and interrupting play, the ball hitting a bird etc., as indicated in 9-2-2 the ball is to be dropped at the spot of the ball (unless the ball was in the goal area which would result in a drop ball from the top of the goal area closest to the spot of the ball) at the time the suspension occurred. As indicated, effective starting in the fall of 2012, if the suspension occurs during the taking of a penalty kick, the penalty kick is to be retaken.
As in the situations describe above, if simultaneous fouls of the same degree occur by opponents, as indicated in 9-2-2 the ball is to be dropped at the spot where the ball was when the fouls occurred (unless the ball was in the goal area which would result in a drop ball from the top of the goal area closest to the spot of the ball). Again, the referee must be aware of the spot of the ball when simultaneous fouls occur. If the simultaneous fouls are not of the same degree (indirect and direct kick fouls), the team committing the lesser degree foul would be awarded an indirect kick from the spot of the infraction.
The drop ball procedures are explained in detail in Rule 9-2-3: The ball is dropped by an official from waist level to the ground between two opposing players. Other players may be position anywhere on the field of play provided they do not interfere with the drop ball procedures (please note that there is no 10 yard requirement for the drop ball).
The ball is not to be played by either player before it touches the ground as indicated in Rule 9-2-4: The ball shall touch the ground before it is played. Penalty: If the ball is played before it touches the ground, the referee shall drop the ball again. A second violation by the same player on the same drop ball situation may result in a caution to the offending player. Play shall be restarted by a drop ball (after the caution).
A drop ball should be utilized as required by the rules, but calling a drop ball demands much concentration and immediate decision-making on your part. Following the above rules and procedures in every high school game you work and making certain your partners do the same will provide the required consistency and make each game a better experience for everyone.
If you would like to suggest a high school soccer rules change or if you have any questions about this rule or any high school rule, please e-mail me at [email protected]