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Question Number: 31359

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 3/17/2017

RE: Rec High School

Salvador Flores of Indianapolis, IN Usa asks...

Question 1. If a defender has his hand in his stomach and an attacker kicks the ball and it hits him on the defender's hand is it a hand ball?
Question 2. If a defender puts his hand up to protect his face as an attacker kicks the ball and hits his hand rather than his face is it a hand ball?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Salvador.
While my first instinct is to say not likely, the placement of the hands are not necessarily safe or unsafe, it will also depend on how the hands react as in warding away the ball or redirecting it deliberately. Certainly LESS reason to think it deliberate. Also the younger ages we lean to safety for a ball directed into the face/

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Salvador,
Every potential handball (and every offence, for that matter) must be assessed on its merits by the referee in charge of the game, at the time it occurs.

It is almost impossible to give a definitive answer, especially when it comes to handling offences which are possibly some of the most subjective decisions anyway, at least not without a lot more information than is given in your examples.

Reading the NFHS rules, they do not contain the same list of 'factors to consider' as the Laws of the Game do, in relation to handling. Rather, they contain play rulings which are to used to elucidate various aspects of the rules. I notice that in the three rulings related to handling, they seem to rely quite heavily on the question of whether the hands were moved into the path of the ball or remained stationary. Very similar, I would say, to the 'hand to ball or ball to hand' consideration in the LotG.

So for instance, play rulings 12.2 Situations A & C state (in broad terms) that if a player moves their hands/arms after the ball is struck and makes contact with the ball this is illegal, whereas Situation B describes a scenario where the hands remain stationary and the ruling says that, ''This is not handling because the ball struck a stationary hand or arm rather than a hand or arm playing the ball.''

So at least as far as the NFHS rules are concerned, the main factor seems to be the movement of the hands (or lack of it).

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Salvador
One of the most difficult decisions for referees to make. Now if we look at a scale of handling we have certain handling where a player uses his arm or hand to play / move the ball. Definite deliberate handling. At the other end of the scale we have situations where the ball hits a player unintentionally from a bounce up or at short range from a kick with the arm in a normal playing position. That is not deliberate handling.
Then in the middle we have grey areas which pose the greatest difficulty for referees. Deliberately lifting the hands up into the path of the ball perhaps for protection can be either an instinctive reaction for protection or using the arms to assist in playing the ball.
In your first example the referee has to decide if the arm was moved to the stomach area to play the bell in which case it is deliberate handling. If the ball hit an arm that was already there then no handling for me.
On the second one the fact that the player has raised his arms up to his head makes that a deliberate movement of the arm towards the ball which is deliberate handling.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

Hi Salvador,
Thank you again for asking questions.
Both of your questions are answered by situations that you can find in the NFHS Rules book on page 53. First let's look at your question about the player with the hand on the stomach and the ball is kicked and hits the hand. 12.2 Situation B covers it as it states: ' A player who is in a defensive position during the taking of a free kick places hands or arms against any part of the body for protection. The offensive player kicks the ball which strikes the hand still in front of the body or arms over the chest. In both cases, the hands are stationary. Ruling: This is not handling because the ball struck a stationary hand or arm rather than a hand or arm playing the ball.' As in your first question, the hand was stationary and not playing the ball so it is not a handball.
In your second question, it appears that the hand was put up to the face to protect the face from the ball. In this case, the hand played the ball so it would be handling. This is indicated in 12.2. Situation C which states: A2 kicks a low hard pass to his/her teammate; (a) B2, a male player who is in the path of the ball, moves his hand to protect his groin and the ball touches his hand; (b) B2 a female player who is in the path of the ball moves her hand to protect her chest and the ball touches her hand. Ruling illegal in both (a) and (b) for deliberately handling the ball.
Thus, you as the referee must decide if the hand was moved to play the ball or did the ball hit the hand and there was no intention to play it. I have found this to be a very easy call to make in high school play. I hope that you will be successful in making this call.

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