Home » What is a goalkeeper six-second rule violation in soccer? Definition
A goalkeeper’s six-second violation in soccer is a rarely-called foul meant to discourage goalkeepers from excessively holding on to the ball and slowing down the pace of play. Goalkeepers must release a held ball after six seconds; if they fail to do so, an indirect free kick will be awarded to the opposing team at the location of the foul.
A goalkeeper’s six-second violation is a foul that a soccer goalkeeper may commit by holding onto the ball for more than six seconds rather than playing it as required. Unlike other players in soccer, the goalkeeper is allowed to touch and hold the ball with their hands and arms, but only within the penalty area. The penalty area exists in a box extending 18 yards (16.5 meters) outward from each side of the goal and 18 yards into the field into the play; this box is marked with lines on the field.
Several rules restrict how a goalkeeper handles the ball within the penalty area, and one rule restricts them from holding the ball for longer than six seconds before releasing it. This restriction does not apply if the goalkeeper has caught the ball in making a save or caught the ball after rebounding it off their body. Referees usually enforce this rule loosely, only calling a foul after repeated violations.
The result of a goalkeeper’s six-second violation is an indirect free kick being awarded to the non-offending team. The captain of the non-offending team will select a player to take an unopposed kick from the location of the foul but without taking a direct shot at the goal. This result is the same across amateur and professional leagues, as the International Football Association Board (IFAB) dictates the laws of the game, which are used at all levels of play.
Alternatively, fouls committed inside the penalty area typically result in a penalty kick taken at the penalty spot. An exception is if the foul occurs within the goal area, a smaller box within the penalty area. In this case, the free kick is taken from the perimeter of the goal area.
When a goalkeeper commits a six-second violation, the referee will blow their whistle, immediately stopping play. The referee will then show the signal for an indirect free kick by raising one arm straight over their head, pointing directly upward with their hand. A referee will typically give a goalkeeper an initial verbal warning for wasting time and allow more than six seconds of holding the ball, only calling this foul after repeated infractions.
- A ball deflects off a defensive player and into the penalty area, where the goalkeeper picks it up and proceeds to throw it up in the air, then holds it under their arm for more than six seconds.
- A goalkeeper picks up a ball that has rebounded off an offensive player. The goalkeeper feints a throw into play but continues to hold it for more than six seconds.
- A goalkeeper saves a goal, catching the ball in their hands. The goalkeeper then holds the ball for more than six seconds. No foul has occurred.