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Question Number: 32379

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 4/16/2018

RE: Competitive Under 14

Aaron Speca of Virginia Beach, VA USA asks...

My son has what I consider a bad habit as a defender. On high balls that I think he should normally take with his chest or head, he often turns his body at the last second so that the ball strikes his upper arm/shoulder. He has never had a call go against him by doing this, but I'm concerned that as he gets older, it might get called deliberate handling even though (as he has told me) he keeps his armed pinned against his side. I don't know if he turns out of simple habit or he has some kind of unconscious fear about taking the ball off the chest or head. Is this an area to be concerned about (besides the fact that I just think it's a bad habit to have)? If I had to pick one weak area for him as a defender, these high balls are it.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Aaron
I think as he gets older there will be appeals for handling should he continue to do this. Using an arm to assist in playing the ball is a handling offence even if it close to the chest.
At Underage players do not appeal very much for doubtful offences yet that all changes with time and experience. Referees are more tolerant of handling at Underage and less so at youth and above.
I suspect though that fear of the ball is the cause of this and that it will disappear as your son get older and stronger. Also it is not conducive to good control of the ball nor body positioning for subsequent play.
Fear of the ball causes player to not head, turn the body away which is a natural reaction.

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