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What is tripping in soccer? Definition, Result, Referee Signal, Examples

tripping in soccer

Soccer is a foot-centric sport, with the best players in the world needing extreme foot-eye coordination in order to succeed. Nonetheless, even the best players in the league can slip up every so often. With so much emphasis put on one’s feet in soccer, it should come as no surprise that tripping is a very regular occurrence.


Tripping fouls are relatively common in the game of soccer, as players are frequently using their legs and feet in a defensive effort against the opposing team’s ball carrier. While contact with the ball is certainly allowed, players cannot make contact with an opponent’s legs and cause them to fall.

A tripping foul occurs whenever one player trips their opponent, whether it is intentional or a mistimed play on the ball. More specifically, this action can be defined as extending a player’s leg in front of an opponent to impede their movement, often resulting in the opponent falling to the ground.


In soccer, the result of committing a tripping foul is a direct free kick awarded to the opposing team from the spot of the foul. If the foul occurs within the opponent’s penalty area, it will result in a penalty kick. In certain instances, the referee can issue a yellow or red card to the offender if they believe the foul was committed in a dangerous or unsportsmanlike manner.

Referee Signal

When a tripping foul is called in a soccer match, a referee will blow their whistle to stop play. Following the whistle, the referee will signal the call by lifting one of their legs and pointing at the ankle. In more severe cases following a tripping foul, a referee may raise a yellow or red card in front of the player who committed the foul if they deem their action to be excessively violent or unsportsmanlike.


  • Tripping a player from behind while they are attempting a shot at the goal
  • Intentionally tripping a player who is spriting for a ball
  • Tripping a player with a clear shot on goal
  • Attempting to trip a player with the ball from behind
  • Sticking your foot out instead of playing proper defense when the opposing player has clear control of the ball