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Rules for Goalkeepers

Goalkeepers, also known as goalies, must follow the same basic rules as the other players, but because they are the only player with different positions and responsibilities, they have their own set of rules. All these are stipulated by the Federation Internationale de Football Association or FIFA.


Following FIFA’s Law of the Game, goalies must wear a uniform with a different color from the rest of the own and opposite team and the referees. They must wear gloves specially designed for them. The rest of the equipment is the same: cleats, stockings, and shin guards; jewelry is forbidden.

Handling the ball

The goalkeeper is a special player within the squad, he or she is the only one allowed to touch the ball in the middle of a play, but following some rules:

  • Inside the penalty area, the goalie can catch any ball that is shot, headed or passed by the opposing team.
  • If the ball is passed by one their teammates, he or she cannot touch it with the hands, only kick it back to another player. The only way to do so is to control the ball and dribble first.
  • If the ball is throwing by the goalie to put it back into the game but remains in the penalty area, he or she cannot handle it again.
  • The goalkeeper has 6 seconds to put the ball back into the game, after gaining control over it. If this time passes and the ball is not back to another player, the referee can give to the goalie a verbal warning; a yellow card caution is necessary when there are subsequent infractions.

Goal kicks

  • When the opposite team kicks the ball past the bounds lines behind the goal, the team get a goal kick, the goalkeeper is normally the one to fulfill the kick.
  • The ball must be placed inside the 6-yards line, which is the small box within the penalty area.
  • When the goalie kicks the ball, and this remains inside the penalty area by chance, the goalie cannot handle it.


Goalkeepers have more leeway from referees because it is their job to defend the goal no matter what; however, that doesn’t imply that they can’t commit a foul, especially in complicated plays like corners. FIFA is always promoting the fair play for that reason, pushing, kicking or pulling the jersey of an opposite player can be the reason of a sanction, depending on the severity the referee can pull out a yellow or red card. If the foul happens inside the penalty area, the opposing team can obtain a penalty kick, which increases the pressure over the goalie.

Field play

Normally, a goalkeeper doesn’t play on the field, unless specific situations like a close game where winning is the team’s main priority, and this occurs in semifinals and finals. The goalie is allowed to leave the penalty area, and help their team when there is an opportunity of goal in plays like corners. When they leave their area, they must follow the rules that his or her teammates follow, and cannot handle the ball unless they are back to the area.

Penalty kicks

When the referee sentence a penalty kick for the opposing squad, the goalie is the only one in charge of defending. The other players can’t interfere in this play. The goalie must be along the goal line between the post before the kick. After the rival kicks the ball, this player can move forward trying to stop the ball according to the shooting angle. When it is the goalkeeper’s team the one that gets the penalty kick, the goalie can take the penalty kick and make the play.

Goalkeepers are interesting players; they have many movements and plays while using all the body. Besides, they are the last line of defense when the opposite forward or midfielder passes the defenders. He or she can save their team and increase their spirit. Usually, the goalies are the most focused players and the most trusted; for that reasons they are generally chosen as the team’s captain.

What are the rules for a goalkeeper
Every goalkeeper must know each fundamental rule, so in this article, we will review them.

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