Soccer is a very technical sport—once a soccer player has the ball, he or she needs to carefully guard the ball against opposing players. To achieve this, a lot of tactics like dribbling, blocking, and other carefully calculated actions must be carried out by the soccer player.
Other forms of soccer like beach soccer, futsal, street soccer, and indoor soccer also require numerous degrees of blocking. Regardless of the type of soccer you play, without calculated actions, you would find it difficult to retain the ball for a long period, talk more about scoring goals.
Soccer involves rigorous activities and there is always a constant struggle for the ball among the entire soccer players on the field. These days, most coaches prefer to focus their efforts on the midfield making it the toughest area to play.
The major objective in soccer is scoring the most goals so soccer players always try to optimally utilize the ball whenever it gets to them.
When soccer players get in possession of the soccer ball, opposing players are attracted to them as they try to retrieve the ball. Without effective blocking technique, you risk losing the ball—and the longer you keep the ball, the higher your chance of scoring.
For a soccer player to successfully take full charge of the ball, they need to have certain characteristics such as stamina, dexterity, confidence, and strength—sometimes a good speed helps. They ought to be able to face any challenge from the opponent without being frightened.
Opponent players often use the blocking technique to retrieve the soccer ball or obstruct a shot from other players. Goalkeepers also use the blocking technique to deviate the ball from an intended target.
In soccer, blocking must be carefully carried out to avoid punishments or possible chances of suspension. In case you might be wondering if blocking is allowed in the rules of soccer, we got you covered.
What does the law of soccer say about blocking? How do some players block off their opponents without the referee calling it a foul?
In this article, we have carefully explained the concept of blocking with regards to soccer and also answered the question of whether it is permitted or barred in the sport.
Is blocking allowed in soccer?
Yes, blocking is allowed in soccer but it must follow certain rules which must be strictly adhered to while playing the game. While blocking, you must ensure that you do it in such a way that it does not pose a threat to the other player.
In soccer, there are two ways to block. The first is standing between the ball and the intended target so that the ball hits your body. You will find this mostly during free kicks where players form a wall to stop the taker from hitting their target.
In the second blocking technique, the player guards the ball such that the opponent is unable to reach the ball. Defenders are mostly fond of guarding the ball into a throw-in or past the goal line for a goal kick.
Blocking is not only used to stop the ball from hitting the target. Some of the players from the team taking the free kick often form a second or false wall close to or different from the one formed by the defending team.
The purpose of this wall is usually to block the view of the goalkeeper so that he or she will not see when the ball was played or the direction it was played, making it difficult for them to save the goal.
Blocking is a delicate technique that must be done with caution to avoid being judged by the referee as obstruction—although the obstruction rule was replaced in 1997 with the “Impeding the progress rule”.
The rule carefully states that, in soccer, if the ball is not in the interior of a playing distance, the act of deliberately or unintentionally blocking an opponent soccer player from reaching the soccer ball is a foul. For this offense, an indirect free kick or penalty may be awarded.
With this rule in place, players are often not allowed to use their bodies in impeding an opponent’s movement if the ball is not within playing distance. In situations where the ball is within playing distance, a player can be hindered from possessing the ball. If the goalkeeper has the ball, a player can “harmlessly” impede them by standing in front of their path.
Although association football and other forms of soccer have different methods of blocking, we listed a few of the legal and illegal methods below—and some of them are virtually the same for the different types of soccer.
Illegal blocking method
Any blocking method that involves material restriction like using the hands to make contact above the neck region or a block to the back area is termed illegal. This practice can result in fouls and even penalties.
Various illegal blocking methods that should be avoided while playing soccer include;
Chop blocks: This is a form of blocking where soccer players try to block opponents from taking shots or passing the ball at their thigh level or below the thighs. It is common in beach soccer since they don’t wear soccer boots but also occur in other forms of soccer even though it is usually very dangerous.
Clipping: Clipping is an illegal form of blocking mostly done in association football and futsal. In an attempt to block an opponent from taking a shot, soccer players often charge opponents from the back by hitting them on or below the waist in an attempt to destabilize them and prevent them from shooting the ball.
Illegal “peel back”: A peel back block is a very offensive form of blocking practiced in most forms of soccer. It is usually done when players try to block opponents from playing the ball by forcefully throwing their foot at the ball from the side or back of the soccer player possessing the ball.
Illegal crackback blocks: A block remains illegal until proven legal by the laws guiding soccer. The crackback block is among the types of blocks prohibited by concerned authorities. This blocking style is done by stopping opponents from playing the soccer ball by throwing your foot at their waist.
Although some of the rules relating to blocking have some exceptions like the rule of blocking the back. This rule can be effective when a defensive player turns to show their back before a block occurs, and also places hands on a defensive player’s side, or during a loose ball recovery.
The “peel back” block can also be legal in a case where the blocker comes to the obverse side of an offensive player.
Legal blocking methods
As skillful as blocking might sound in soccer, it has numerous limitations that make it problematic to legally practice with ease. According to the rulebook of soccer, any soccer player who wishes to block during a game can block with their entire body except the parts that are not usually accepted in the game.
Therefore, legal blocking includes the use of the shoulders, the outside of the forearms, and the head. When blocking an opponent, your arms and shoulders must remain below their neck.
Blocking must be done outside a soccer player’s body—although the hands of a soccer player blocking their opponent must move to the opponent’s body as soon as they begin to block.
Some of the common legal ways of blocking in the game of soccer include:
Defensive wall block: A defensive wall block as earlier described in the article is a situation where a group of players from a team tries to block off an attempt at goal by forming a human wall in front of the goal post, a few meters from the goalkeeper.
This is mostly done by taller players on a soccer team or players of similar height and stature. The players usually stand shoulder to shoulder ten yards from the soccer ball, sometimes linking their hands. They jump unanimously to block the ball when it is played.
Defensive circular block: A defensive circular block is a soccer tactic popular in all forms of soccer especially the ones with more than five players in a team. This type of block is very effective which is why it is often witnessed during soccer matches.
A defensive circular block occurs when an exceptional player in a rival team is surrounded by three or more opponent players whenever he or she comes in possession of the ball. This kind of block often neutralizes and destabilizes exceptional soccer players from playing their best.
Blocking balls legally in soccer helps to avert material restriction which is the act of gripping or manipulating an opponent in ways that are not acceptable. Blocking can be classified into different types namely, high block, medium block, and low block.
Aside from association football, a high block is very common in beach soccer and indoor soccer. Some soccer teams use this block to steal possession of the ball especially when their opponents are tall or have a very aggressive offensive line.
High blocking can be combined with high pressure or high line because it is often not very effective when done alone.
A high block is done by compressing the opposing side to a very small portion of the soccer field from where you can dictate their actions and freedom of play.
The use of a high block helps to compress the field. It reduces the space used by the possessing team to carry out their build-up, it also denies opponents the space and time to perfectly play and perform passes. High block, though risky, can be very effective when perfectly executed.
The medium block is the most balanced style of block amongst other forms of blocking in soccer. It forces the opponents to play wide as it consists of a narrow and short defensive style of play that covers the middle of the pitch.
This form of blocking is synonymous with association football and futsal. It is usually an advantage to the blocking team because when opponents play wide, they normally gain an opportunity to own full control of all the danger zones on the pitch.
During a medium block, the blocking team usually tries as much as possible to stay within their half of the field which allows the opponent’s backline to retain the ball. They usually apply pressure on their opponents immediately after the ball gets into the midfield.
To be able to apply pressure on the opponent’s attackers and midfielders, a soccer team ought to sit deep and avoid yielding too much space from the rear.
The low block is a popular technique, often referred to as the “park the bus” block, which entails having a deep line of defense. This type of block is often executed by a good percentage of a team’s players and sometimes the whole players of a team form two defensive lines, making it very difficult for the opponent to find space.
Jose Mourinho is one of the managers famous for using this style of play in games where a draw is just enough to see him through the next stage of a competition.
This blocking technique is widely practiced in association football, futsal, and indoor soccer. It consistently applies the pressing tactic. Teams who use this type of block know who to press very hard and the best time to press.
Considering the part of the field the ball is in, the blocking team usually utilizes the wide midfielder, the central midfielder, and the second striker as their pressing unit. This helps them in maintaining their defensive structure.
During a match, the key players of the opposing team are targeted and hard-pressed. This makes it difficult for them to play effectively thereby reducing their performance. This type of block is mostly used by amateur teams when competing against superior teams.
This type of block looks unfriendly to some people but most soccer teams use it as leverage in winning trophies. It is also a good defending tactic and oftentimes when counter-attacks and low block are combined, they can serve as an attacking tactic.
Soccer is naturally fun but understanding the applicable rules of the game matters a lot. Understanding the proposed rules helps soccer players in avoiding unnecessary offenses while playing.
Blocking is widely accepted in soccer but only when you know the dos and don’ts involved in the technique. Consequently, soccer teams can adapt and implement any type of block that suits them most to attain optimal performance on the field of play.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
The Pitch is Ours is a new beginning for me and a stepping stone to prepare before retiring from the professional soccer team. Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!