Dropped Ball In Football (All You Need To Know!)

Last Updated on October 13, 2023 by Alex PT

In football, a “dropped ball” refers to a game restart method. It occurs when the referee drops the ball to resume play after a temporary stoppage, often due to injuries. It’s a fair way to restart, promoting sportsmanship.

What Is The Definition Of Drop-Ball In Soccer?

In soccer, a “drop ball” is a method used by the referee to restart the game after a temporary stoppage, typically due to an injury or when the outcome of a situation is unclear. The drop ball involves the following details:

  1. Injury or Uncertainty: A drop ball is commonly used when there is an injury to a player, and the team in possession of the ball willingly kicks it out of play to allow the injured player to receive treatment. It can also be used when the ball goes out of play due to reasons other than normal play, and the referee is uncertain which team should have possession.
  2. Resuming Play: The referee drops the ball from shoulder height to the ground at the spot where it was when play was halted. This is typically done in the presence of the two players who would have contested the ball if play had not been stopped.
  3. Sportsmanship: The drop ball is a way to promote fairness and sportsmanship. It ensures that no team unfairly benefits from the stoppage in play, and both teams have an equal opportunity to regain possession.
  4. No Competitive Advantage: The team that was in possession before the stoppage does not get a competitive advantage from the drop ball. It’s a neutral way to restart play.
  5. Informal Procedure: In the past, a drop ball was often contested by the two players involved in the stoppage. However, in recent rule changes, the opposing team typically returns the ball to the team that had possession before the stoppage as a gesture of sportsmanship.

Scoring From A Dropped Ball

Scoring From A Dropped Ball

There are rules and regulations guiding players in regard to scoring a goal directly as the referee drops the ball. A team that scored directly from a dropped ball will either be awarded a corner kick or a goal kick. This law came into place in 2012. The Football Association gave a justification for this new law modification. They realized that many a time, teams have scored goals from uncontested dropped balls. In such situations, the opposition rebalances the game by allowing the team to score as they kick off without any players trying to block them. The law was reinstated again in 2016 – no players can score from a direct dropped ball unless it touched two players before crossing the goal line. Goals scored from a direct dropped ball are canceled and play is restarted mostly by a goal-kick. 

Drop Ball Infringements

When the process required in playing a dropped ball is not properly followed by the players, the referee calls a number of infringements. If any player from the two teams touches the ball before it reaches the ground, it’s a violation. The referee can book the player with a yellow card for deliberately delaying the time required to restart the game. Also, as we said earlier, goals scored from a dropped ball without touching at least two players are disallowed. 

Remedy For Infringement

Normally, any team whose player touches the ball before it reaches the ground is punished with an indirect free-kick. That was an infringement of the laws at a dropped ball in 1891. However, a retake was implemented as the “indirect free-kick” was removed in 1937. 

Abolition Of Contested Dropped Ball

The dropped ball was not allowed to be contested by any player of the two teams again in 2019. Another refined law was established and the dropped ball was awarded to; a player of the team who had touched the ball before the play was stopped. However, if the play is stopped in the penalty area, the ball will be awarded to the goalkeeper of the defending team. Also, players are to stay four meters away until the ball drops on the ground. 


We’ve prepared a list of frequently asked questions and answers to help you have a deeper understanding of dropped balls in football. 

Is A Drop Ball Indirect?

Dropped balls are indirect kicks that players can’t use to score a goal directly. This is due to the fact that there have been occasions where teams score goals from uncontested dropped balls. 

What Is It Called When A Football Is Dropped?

It is called “fumble”. In most cases, the ball is accessible to another player to gain possession for his teammates when a player drops the ball. 

What Happens If A Dropped Ball Is Kicked Directly Into The Team’s Own Goal?

Like we said earlier, any goal from a direct dropped ball will be disallowed and either a corner kick or a goal-kick is awarded. That’s a new law and every player must adhere to it. 

Closing Thoughts 

A dropped ball is one of the technical terms used in the world of football. When you see a referee dropping the ball, it is to restart the game if a player is injured. All we all know, when a player is seriously injured, the referee would stop the play and call the medics to treat the wounded player. Once the player is treated or substituted, the play is continued with a dropped ball. Also, we’ve seen occasions where a spectator runs into the field during play. In this case, the referee would stop the play and a dropped ball would be used to start the game again. 

We’ve reached the closing chapter of this informative article. We hope you were able to find good resources in your quest to know dropped ball in football. If you have any questions or comments about the article topic, don’t hesitate to contact us. Thanks.



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