Are Soccer Players Allowed to use their Shoulders?

The main rule that distinguishes soccer from many other similar sports is that players are not allowed to use their hands during the game. However, there has been some confusion around this rule, mainly, is using the shoulder prohibited in the game or not? Here’s your answer.

Soccer players are allowed to use their shoulder like they use any other part of their body other than their hands. Soccer players can score goals with their shoulders, land the ball on their shoulders, juggle the ball with their shoulders, and much more.

How to tell whether the ball touched the shoulder or the hand in soccer?

Referees usually have a hard time deciding whether the ball has touched the shoulder of the player or their hand.

The following image shows you where the player can touch the ball, and where they can’t 

If the ball touches the red part, then it’s a hand ball. If it touches the green part, then it’s considered a shoulder ball which is allowed in soccer.

What makes shoulder balls extremely interesting is that the referee will have a hard time deciding whether or not the ball is a handball.

The referee might decide to use the new VAR technology to take a final decision when they’re not sure whether it’s a handball or not, and this will create a lot of suspense for both the audience and the players which can make the game more fun to watch.

How can the shoulders be used in a soccer match?

1- Shoulders can be used to score goals in soccer

A brilliant way to score a goal in soccer is to use your shoulder. Let’s say that your teammate kicked an air ball towards you hoping that you could score with a header kick, however if the ball comes closer to your shoulder than your head, then you can move your shoulder forward very fast in order to hit the ball and maybe score a goal.

2- you can use your shoulder in soccer to pass the ball to your teammates.

The same above scenario applies when you just want to pass the ball to your teammate. If the ball is coming towards you in the air but you think that passing it with a shoulder hit instead of a header is an easier option, then go for it.

Shoulder passes are great in soccer and they show that the player is confident with the ball. They are also great to trick your opponents.

When the ball is high in the air and is coming towards you, then your opponents might think that you’re most probably going to land the ball on your chest and try to control it. 

If you immediately pass the ball with a shoulder hit to one of your players, then you’ll get a chance to trick your opponents which can give your teammate an advantage.

3- You can use your shoulder to juggle the ball

Perhaps one of the most interesting ways to use your shoulder in a soccer match is to juggle the ball multiple times with your shoulder.

Running while juggling the ball on the field is a fancy skill to have. While it might not always be a very effective way to control the ball, it is a great way to entertain your audience if you’re already winning the match.

Many soccer players decide that they want to juggle the ball with their feet, chest and shoulder during a soccer match and the result can sometimes be quite impressive.

4- Shoulder to shoulder fair-play

If 2 soccer players are competing to reach the ball while running very close to each other, then they are allowed to touch their shoulders together and each one is allowed to apply a small force on the other to try and reach the ball first.

This is called a shoulder to shoulder contact in soccer and it is allowed as long as none of the players use their shoulder to violently hit the other player.

So this is another way that you can use your shoulder for your advantage in a soccer match.

To summarize

The soccer rules allow you to use your shoulder to touch the ball in a soccer match. With your shoulder, you can score goals, pass balls, and joggle. You can also use a shoulder to shoulder contact with an opponent player in order to protect your ball.

If you’d like to learn more about other soccer rules, then check this article about all the rules that you need to know in order to feel confident when playing or watching soccer.