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What is jumping at an opponent in soccer? Definition, Result, Referee Signal, Examples

jumping at an opponent in soccer

Jumping at an opponent is a foul in soccer that is committed when one player propels themself through the air and into an opponent. This foul can occur regardless of whether it was accidental or whether physical contact is made. A direct free kick is a typical punishment.


Jumping at an opponent foul is a physical foul in soccer that is committed when one player launches their body, through the air, into the body of an opponent. This foul is most frequently called when the referee deems that a player intended to make airborne contact with an opponent rather than play the ball. Physical contact is not required for this foul to be called; however physical contact can cause this foul to be called even if the action is accidental.

Jumping at an opponent can take several forms, but any player who becomes airborne through their propulsion and then makes contact with an opponent is likely to commit this foul. Most fouls are committed by a player either 1) jumping toward an opponent to intimidate or impede them, or 2) jumping toward the ball, missing the ball, and striking an opponent instead.


Like most physical fouls, jumping at an opponent is punishable by a direct free kick being awarded to the non-offending team. If the foul is committed recklessly, a yellow card will be shown; if it is committed with excessive force, a red card will be shown and the offender will be ejected.

Referee Signal

A referee will whistle to stop play when jumping at an opponent foul is called. The referee will then signal for a direct free kick by pointing with one arm outstretched horizontally. If the attacking team has possession of the ball past midfield with the potential for a scoring opportunity, and the foul was committed by the defending team, the referee will allow the play to continue and signal advantage until a change of possession or stoppage in play.


  • One player has control of the ball. An opponent dives feet-first toward the ball, attempting to gain possession. Instead of striking the ball, the opponent’s feet strike the other player’s shins.
  • The ball is flying through the air, and a player attempts to play the ball by jumping up and heading it. Instead of making contact with the ball, the player collides with an opponent.
  • Away from the ball, a player jumps toward an opponent in an attempt to intimidate them and knock them off their desired path.