Can You Steal The Ball From A Goalkeeper?

Finding loopholes in rules and trying to hack them is something that many people enjoy doing. Hacking the soccer rules is not an exception. 

In soccer, you will find a lot of players trying to work their way around the soccer rules and claim that they haven’t done anything that is considered to be illegal by the rules.

We will be talking about one of these scenarios in this article. Specifically, we’ll talk about when a soccer player tries to do a trick to score a goal by stealing the ball from the goalkeeper.

The way they do it is that they stand behind the goalkeeper when the goalie has the ball in their hands, and then they wait for the goalkeeper to drop the ball on the ground in order to kick it. This is when they act. They steal the ball from in front of the goalkeeper and they score.

Is stealing the ball from the goalkeeper allowed though?

A soccer player is not allowed to kick the ball out of the keeper’s hands, but once the goalkeeper drops the ball on the ground, then any player will have the right to steal the ball and attempt to score a goal.

Note that stealing the ball from the goalkeeper when they throw the ball in front of them with the intent to kick it is not allowed. The main reason behind this is that there is a big chance that you might hurt the goalkeeper.

But the moment the ball touches the ground, it’s up for the grabs by any player on the field.

There have been a lot of soccer players who have successfully managed to steal the ball from in front of the goalkeeper, and many of these goals were allowed by the referee of the game.

This usually happens because the goalkeepers do not usually look behind them when they are kicking the ball towards the middle of the field. They just assume that there is nobody behind them.

While they are right most of the time, sometimes they mess up, and a goal gets scored against their team.

While it’s true that scoring a goal by stealing the ball from the goalkeeper is not a brilliant way to score, it’s still a goal, and all of the soccer goals are equally important.

In soccer, it doesn’t matter how the goal was scored, if you score, you get a point. Period.

How long is a goalkeeper allowed to hold the ball?

In theory, a soccer goalkeeper is only allowed to hold the ball in their hands for 6 seconds or else the opponent gets an indirect free kick. In practice however, the duration is more like 10 seconds because the referees do not strictly follow the 6 seconds rule.

If you watch a lot of professional soccer matches, you will notice that many goalkeepers hold the ball in their hands for more than 6 seconds without facing any consequences.

The way they do it is that they try to stay on the ground as long as they can when they have the ball with their hands, then they stand up slowly and pretend that they are looking for someone to throw the ball to.

Some of them even bounce the ball a few times before they throw it.

Doing all this makes it seem that they aren’t wasting time when in fact they totally are. However, if a goalkeeper holds the ball for more than 10 ~ 12 seconds, then it becomes a very obvious and a shameful attempt to waste time, and in this case, they usually get a yellow card from the referee.

Can a goalkeeper pick up the ball after dropping it?

This question comes as a follow up from the previous one. 

If a goalkeeper is only allowed to hold the ball with their hands for a small number of seconds, can’t they just put the ball on the ground and then hold it back to reset the timer?

No they can’t. After the goalkeeper releases the ball from their hands, they aren’t allowed to pick the ball up with their hands again unless the ball touches one of the opponent players first or unless it’s very obvious that the goalkeeper’s intentions weren’t to waste time at all.

This rule was introduced to soccer after a lot of goalkeepers tried to abuse their privileges to waste the remaining time of the game when their team was the winning team. 

The rule was known as the “back pass” rule and it was the perfect way to prevent the goalkeepers from trying to abuse their privileges during the game.

Why do goalkeepers bounce the ball?

If you watch a lot of soccer, you should have noticed that the goalkeepers like to bounce the ball a few times on the ground before they kick it towards the center of the field.

While bouncing the ball before kicking it does nothing for the goalkeepers these days, it is a tradition that has been picked up from the times when the soccer rules did not have a practical limit of how long the goalkeeper can hold the ball with their hands.

Back in the old days of soccer when the goalkeeper was able to hold the ball in their hands for as long as they pleased, the goalkeeper used to bounce the ball on the ground multiple times while having it it just to pretend that they are ‘doing something’ instead of just shamelessly standing there doing nothing just to waste time.

So in other words, there aren’t really any useful reasons why some goalkeepers bounce the ball on the ground multiple times before they kick it these days. It’s just a tradition that many soccer players decided to adopt.


In general, you are not allowed to interrupt the goalkeeper while they are holding the ball or while they are kicking the ball from their hands to the center of the field. 

However, you have the right to take the ball from the goalkeeper the moment it touches the ground.