Direct vs. Indirect Free Kicks in Soccer

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As a soccer fan, I have often wondered whether a free kick awarded by the referee was direct or indirect. I’m sure most people have been there as well. 

Every sport has different rules, and so does soccer. For instance, in soccer, the free kick is an essential aspect as it includes rules and regulations. 

In this article, we will explore the difference between direct and indirect kicks in soccer, some examples, and also fouls in both free kicks.

What is a Free Kick in Soccer?

A free kick in soccer is a restart of the play that is given to a team when their opponents commit a foul.

With a free kick, the fouled team can take a shot on goal or pass the ball to a teammate without interference from the opposing team.

The fouled team has to take the shot while the opposing team is at least 10 yards away from the ball. The opposition team is not required to defend or intervene in any way. 

How Many Types of Free Kicks Are There?

There are two types of free kicks in a game of soccer. Direct and indirect kicks. They both play an important role in the game.

When a player commits a foul or violation that is serious and dangerous, it is called a direct kick. An indirect kick, however, is awarded to less serious fouls.

The spot where the foul occurred is the exact place the kick must take place, with the exception of indirect free kicks inside the penalty area. These are taken from the nearby point on the goal line.

What’s the Difference Between a Direct and Indirect Kick?

In a game of soccer, a direct free kick can easily enter a goal compared to an indirect free kick. This is because the player taking the kick can shoot directly at the goal without any other player touching the ball. 

Fouls and violations that are considered more serious are awarded a direct free kick. For example, physical contact with an opponent by the offender is an offense where there are less serious fouls and violations, the referee awards an indirect free kick.

Another player, apart from the one kicking the ball, must touch the ball for it to enter a goal or be considered a goal in an indirect free kick.

Unlike the direct free kick, a player who kicks the ball in an indirect free kick is not able to score a goal.

An indirect kick can be awarded not only to the players’ fouls and violations but also against the goalkeeper. Here are some of the incidences where it can be awarded.

  1. If he or she handles the ball outside of the penalty area
  2. The goalkeeper is allowed to hold the ball for a maximum of 6 seconds. Holding it more than that is a foul.
  3. When they touch the  ball with their hands after a teammate passes it back to them 
  4. If he or she interferes with the play
  5. If he or she commits a foul against an opposing player, like tripping or pushing.

The above instances will automatically lead to an indirect free kick to the opposing team.

How to Know if a Kick Is Direct or Indirect?

The referee will indicate if the free kick is direct or indirect once the foul/violation has been committed.

The referee will raise their arm straight up if the kick is indirect, and for the direct free kick, he will point towards the goal.

For example, a handball is not specific, and it can be either a direct or an indirect kick. The referee will award an indirect kick to the opposing team if a player accidentally handles the ball. 

However, if a player purposefully handles the ball to be advantageous or to stop an opponent’s attack, the referee will award a direct free kick.


In soccer, there are several ways of identifying direct and indirect free kicks. Soccer is fun, and as a fan, being able to distinguish between the two is phenomenal.

As for players, understanding these differences will ultimately lead to more exciting games. They can avoid the consequences of violation and make smart decisions.

You go enjoy soccer!


What Fouls Are Direct Kicks in Soccer?

A referee may award a direct free kick to the opponent team if the player in question was careless or reckless while playing.

Other possible faults include the use of excessive force, charging, jumping, kicking, or attempting to kick an opponent player.

When Is a Direct Kick Awarded in Soccer?

When there is physical contact between the offender and the opponent, the fouls or violations in this type of free kick are more serious.

Do Indirect Free Kicks Still Exist?

Yes, they still exist in a game of soccer.

Is a High Foot an Indirect Free Kick?

Yes. If a player raises their foot too high, which may be endangering an opponent, the opposing team will be awarded a free kick. 

What Fouls Are Indirect Kicks in Soccer?

Fouls in a game of soccer that are indirect free kicks are often due to playing dangerously against the opponents, use of offensive language, and blocking or restricting an opponent, even if they try to stop the goalkeeper from releasing the ball.

Is a Corner Kick Indirect or Direct in Soccer?

A corner kick is an indirect free kick. 

Is a Handball a Direct Kick?

A handball depends on how the player handles the ball. So, it can be either an indirect or direct free kick. Handling the ball accidentally is an indirect kick, but purposefully handling the ball is a direct free kick.

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