What Is a Soccer Throw In (Full Explanation)

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Soccer throw in: While the basic understanding of the game is simple, some rules require elaboration. There is, of course, the notorious offside rule. But even beyond that, things like set pieces and some of the minute details regarding football throw-ins can be confusing too.

In soccer (association football), the throw-in is critical for every match. The throw-in puts the ball back into the field of play, with one thrower tossing the ball to their teammate to resume the action. The player who made the last touch before the whole ball went out of bounds is now on defense. And the opposing team gets to toss the ball back into the pitch to start on offense.

So, given all this, it is worthwhile to answer the question “What are the soccer throw-in rules?”. And how is a throw-in taken and how should it not be done? Here is the complete guide to soccer throw-ins and more!

What is a throw-in?

A football throw-in is an act of throwing the ball back into play to restart the game. Once the whole ball goes out of the field of play. If the player of one team is the last person to touch the ball. Then a player from the other team takes the throw-in.

The convention is that the wing-back usually takes the throw-in. Because he is usually closest to the scene. And frees up the winger or other advanced players to help teams attack from the throw-in.


Also, the attackers are trained to win the first headers from the throw-ins and retain possession for the team. Which seems to be a significant objective of football throw-ins presently.

What is the throw-in location?

It should be kept in mind that the throw-in has to be taken from the exact place. Where the ball went out of play, be it in the air or on the floor. This is at the discretion of the referees. That point is at an approximate spot at which the ball may have gone out of play.

The soccer player on the defending team guarding against the flip throw must be at least 2 yards away from where the throw-in occurs. However, even if the player is taking a running throw with the ball, the opposing player must play two yards back from the touchline where the soccer ball went out of bounds. If the opposing player tries to play closer than that, they can get a yellow card for unsporting behavior.

Players do try to manipulate the location of where the ball went out of play. But the referees are vigilant to any mischief.

How to perform a throw-in?

Throw-in rules can be tough to grasp for some. But it is all about repetition and technique when it comes to throw-ins. To perform football throw-ins adequately and without any mistakes, a few throw-in rules need to be kept in mind.

The thrower should be having his feet on the touchline. Or outside it, should face the field of play, and throw it using both his hands and over his head. During this process, the opposition players have to keep a sufficient distance of about 2 meters from the thrower. In order to allow him to throw the ball amicably.

If they do not do that, the referee can warn them before the throw-in occurs. And penalize them with a free kick after it is taken. The thrower should bend his back and throw it firmly trying to aim at the feet of his teammate.

Once a throw-in has been taken, it has to hit another person before the thrower can touch it again. It will be a foul throw if these throw-in rules are not observed accurately enough.

What is a foul throw?

A football throw-in would be called a foul throw. When the procedure of taking it is not according to the throw-in rules described above. For example, a throw-in using one hand like the throw of a goalkeeper would be a foul throw.

Also one of the throw-in rules is that if the outfield player throws it back to his keeper and the keeper handles it, it also becomes foul. If the thrower touches the ball before it comes in contact with another player, the opponent team gets a free kick.

Similarly, throwing from within the field of play would be a foul throw. Throwing the ball into your own path is also a foul throw. And it can be penalized by a free kick according to throw-in rules. One approach that can be done is throwing at the back of an opposition defender. This makes the throw-in legal but of course, can not be done regularly.

In this way, the method of taking football throw-ins needs to be practiced time and time again to get it right during the pivotal moments of a game.

Is a flip throw-in legal?

A flip throw-in is when players take a flip before throwing the ball to add momentum to the throw. As such, there is nothing wrong with the flip throw in the throw-in rules. That is, of course, if these rules are correctly observed.

The flip has to be done before approaching the line. And it has to be ensured that both feet touch the ground when releasing the ball. So, we would advise giving the flip throw enough time on the training ground before doing it on the pitch to save yourself the embarrassment of a foul throw.

Can a goal be scored directly from a throw-in?

No, according to throw-in rules, a goal can not be scored directly from a football throw-in. A soccer throw-in works as an indirect free kick. That means the thrower can’t score a goal directly from their throw.

Also, like an indirect free kick, the thrower can’t touch the ball again after they throw it in until another player touches it. That means the thrower can’t toss the ball in front of their feet to resume the action. Instead, they must throw it toward a teammate or give the play-up as an indirect kick to the opposing team.


If the thrower throws the ball for some reason and goes into the goal without any other touching it, then it turns into a goal kick for the other team. A corner kick occurs if the throw goes into the thrower’s own goal net.

Why is a throw-in thrown with your hands?

This is a genuine question. Why is the game restarted by a throw using the hands when the game being played is football, and penalties are given when a player uses their hand? The reason for this seems to be the close relationship between football and rugby.

These field games have a lot in common. And as both these games started to develop together in the United Kingdom, many of the elements were exchanged. As such, the football throw-ins seem to be a variation of the lineout in rugby, which is when the game is restarted as the ball goes out of play. Seems familiar, doesn’t it?

Is a throw-in considered a set piece?

Yes, it is. A set piece is any instance where the ball goes out of play or any foul is awarded to a team. So football throw-ins are set pieces because there is a halt in the proceedings of the game during the throw-in, as is the case with free kicks and corner kicks, the two other kinds of set pieces.

Being a set piece itself makes football throw-ins an opportunity to create an offensive opportunity as defenders can often lose concentration during a stop in the game.

The Significance of Football Throw-Ins

While football throw-ins may be a trivial event for some teams, others take full advantage of this passage of play and use it to progress play and create chances. A throw-in can essentially be used in the same way as a corner kick. If it is taken correctly, it can be even more potent than a corner kick.

While the art of a designated long throw-in taker is dying out, it makes it all the more vital to bring it back and surprise teams with a form of attack rarely seen these days. Other approaches like a give-and-go, where the thrower gives the ball to a runner, get it back from him, and then plays him through again is a popular way of launching attacks from throw-ins.

Practically speaking, throw-ins these days are mostly just a way of retaining possession and not a way of progressing the ball or launching an attack. On the other hand, other teams use it as a way of wasting time, especially away from home when a bottom-end side wants to take a result from a top side away from home.

Soccer throw-in vs corner kick explanation

A throw-in occurs when the ball completely crosses the sideline on the pitch in soccer. Whoever was last to touch the ball has the opposing player get the ball to throw it to their teammate to resume play.

Corner kicks (Law 17) occur when the soccer ball goes out of bounds after the ball crosses the goal line. Like with a regular throw-in, the ball can go out of bounds either in the air or by ground. The main difference on a corner kick is that it becomes a direct free-kick. And it is taken by a soccer player’s foot, not by their hands.

Outside of where the resume of action occurs and how the soccer players perform that activity, the primary difference is that a player can directly score on a corner kick while a throw-in can’t. That means that the defense, when playing a corner kick, must be ready to defend against a direct shot toward their goal, while a throw-in only needs to guard an offensive player.


In summary, a soccer throw-in resumes the game’s action when the ball goes out of bounds. The throw-in is a quick action, which association football prefers by having as little stoppage time during games as possible. A throw-in must occur with the thrower taking the ball and tossing it with both hands over their hand, and they can’t score directly from that throw.

Football throw-ins are a basic skill that needs to be mastered through repetition. As such, knowing the basic throw-in rules is vital to keep possession and save your team from embarrassment from a foul throw.

The next time you watch a friendly match or the FIFA World Cup, notice how many times the ball goes out of bounds. You will be amazed at how frequently this occurs and how quickly the players get the ball back to toss it to their teammates to resume action!

Let FootballTerms know if you think throw-in rules need to be reviewed or if they are perfect just right now.

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