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What Not To Do in Soccer?

What Not To Do in Soccer?

It is easy to forget what you cannot do when you focus too much on what you can do. This principle applies to soccer players too.

Like every other sport, soccer has rules that tell you what you can and cannot do. From what part of the body you can use to play the game to how to interact with other players, there is so much that you cannot do in soccer.

For a new soccer fan or an armature soccer player just getting into the game, these laws can be overwhelming. Attempting to memorize all the Laws of the Game at a sitting will be an impossible task for many.

Apart from the Laws of the Game which specifically points out what players cannot do in soccer, there are also expectations from teammates, coaches, and the entire fan.

In fact, the moment you take up soccer as a professional career, you will have to abide by certain written and unspoken rules to stay relevant in the game.

In this post, we are going to tell you what not to do in soccer. We will highlight this from the Laws of the Game and from the experiences of ex-soccer players.

Without further chitchats, let’s dive in!

What not to do in soccer?

There is no other sport in the world that generates as much passion and breeds controversy as soccer. Firstly, some categorize it as contact sport while others say it is not.

Regardless of which side of the divide you stand, there are so many laws stipulating what a player cannot do. The main purpose of these laws is to ensure the safety of the players as well as keep the game fair.

Young soccer player getting injured in the field

However, if you ever thought that the Laws of the Game cover everything that a soccer player cannot do, you need to think again. There are so many grey areas in the laws and the referee has to apply initiative to determine what happens next.

Since it is always a good idea to start every lesson from the known to the unknown so as not to confuse your audience, here is what you cannot do in soccer according to the Laws of the Game.

Regardless of the soccer variation that you play, be it futsal, beach soccer, or indoor soccer, all forms of soccer that have the backing of FIFA follow the same rules when it comes to what you cannot do.

Don’t handle the ball

Soccer player handing the ball

Only goalkeepers are allowed to use their hands in soccer—and this privilege is only restricted to their 18-yard box. Beyond that box, they can only use their legs and head like every other soccer player.

The only time soccer players can use their hands is during throw-ins and this is technically outside the pitch. Whenever an outfield player touches the ball with the hands, the referee will call a foul and give a free kick or penalty kick to the opponent—depending on where the ball was handled.

While it may sound surprising, soccer players still find ways to use their arms in the game. We discussed how to use your arms in soccer here.

Don’t play carelessly, recklessly, or use excessive force

The Laws of the Game has a long list of actions that are considered either careless, reckless or use of excessive force. This includes pushing, pulling, kicking, fighting, or charging menacingly at an opponent.

In fact, any action that puts any of your teammates, opponent, or yourself in danger is prohibited. Depending on the severity of your action, you may get a caution, a yellow card, or a red card.

Any action judged as excessive force attracts ejection from the game. Getting too many red cards can mar your professional career.

For example, while the Spanish center back, Sergio Ramos is exceptional at his role, he has a bad red card record. As of December 2021, his red card record was 27 making him the player with the most red cards in the 21st century.

Soccer player get red card

Don’t delay the game

Most of the popular games loved in America from football to basketball have time-outs—but soccer is an exception. Soccer is also one of the few games where the time counts up and will only stop at halftime and at the end of the game.

Since the time in soccer doesn’t stop, delays are not allowed. A goalkeeper can receive a caution or card from the referee for holding the ball for more than 6 seconds.

Likewise, other outfield players can be cautioned for wasting time during goal celebrations, faking an injury, delaying restart by holding onto the ball, or walking out of the pitch sluggishly after being substituted to delay time.

Don’t act provocatively

The Laws of the game prohibits soccer players from acting in a provocative manner to the opponent teammate or their fans. For example, ex-Dutch striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy once scored a goal and went to celebrate in front of Andorra’s captain. He was booked for the provocative act.

Most Disrespectful Celebration In Football That Makes Rival Players and Fans Lose Control

Other provocative behaviors that you should avoid in soccer include showing disregard for the game and the referee, leaving or entering the field without the referee’s permission, dissent in words or action, saying racist or abusive words to an opponent, and so on.

When it comes to acting provocatively, some soccer players take it out on the referee, knowing fully well that arguing with a referee rarely influences their decision.

Don’t play against the technical instruction

Now that we are done with the things that are prohibited by the law of the game, let us look at other things you should not do in soccer. One of the firsts in this regard is that you should never play against the instructions of your coach.

Soccer player listen to his coach

Every coach will settle for a technique after watching clips from the opponents and will assign roles to players in a way to counter the opponent’s game plan. Playing against instruction will not only undermine the efforts of the coach but can also make it harder for your teammates to cope with you.

For example, imagine a central back going to play as a striker simply because he or she thinks the strikers are missing too many chances. Since it is not the player’s natural playing position, he or she will struggle to fit in.

At the same time, the player will be leaving a gaping hole at the back which the opponent team can capitalize on to score. Playing against technical instructions may not only cost your team vital victories but can also cost you your career because no manager will want to work with you.

In a nutshell, this action will be translated as insulting the teammates or the coach. You have to respect every teammate and your technical advisers.

Don’t be selfish with the ball

Soccer player dribbling the ball

In soccer, the player that scores the most goals usually gets all the attention—irrespective of the fact that soccer is a team sport. For this reason, most of the players want to score goals including defenders.

We have seen Thiago Silver score goals for Chelsea and Virgil van Dijk for Liverpool which shows how much more risk defenders are now taking to come forward.

Whenever a player is with the ball, he or she will keep looking up for the player that has a better scoring opportunity. That is why in a one-on-one situation, most players will square the pass to a teammate.

If there is a teammate that can score and you decide to go for it and miss, you will certainly get a backlash from your teammate and the coach. Doing this more frequently will likely see you sidelined.

In other words, you have to learn how to be a team player and trust your team. As a defender, if the opportunity presents itself to score you should take it but it should never be your priority.

Don’t be too anxious before a game

You often hear people say that a team lost a match because they were overconfident or underrated their opponent. Ex-pro soccer player William Oluremi John said being too anxious before a game is just as bad as being too relaxed.

According to him, soccer players need to find the balance where they are excited to play but maintain their calm and expect anything. Come to think of it, it is hard to make good decisions when you are not mentally relaxed.

Finding that middle ground may sound easy on the book but it will certainly take a lot of training to get there.

Avoid overtraining

Soccer player practicing

To be the best in soccer, you have to train really hard. A good example of a soccer player that got to the peak of his career through training is Cristiano Ronaldo. He has an insane training regimen.

While it is important to train, you must know when and where to draw the line. Overtraining is just as bad as not training at all.

Also, when you train, you have to pay attention to your drills and make sure that they improve your performance in all areas. For example, if 80% of your training is focused on a deadlift, it will surely increase your muscles and make you top-heavy.

The result is lower stamina and balance because your center of gravity has drifted far above the ground. Many professional soccer players advise that weight training should make up only 20 to 30% of your weekly training.

If you are the fastest runner but have 10% dribbling skill and 10% stamina, another player with 50% performance in all those areas will always put you on the bench.

To be the best in soccer, you have to be an all-around player. Also, overtraining can lead to fatigue which will definitely affect your performance on match days.

We always advise that you work with a fitness trainer to come up with an exercise regimen that will bring out the best of you in all areas.

Don’t neglect your body

Fat soccer player

What you should not do in soccer goes beyond what happens on the pitch to your day-to-day life. Soccer players easily lose their physique during the off-seasons because they stop training and eat more junk.

Nevertheless, the best soccer players know the importance of keeping fit all year round. Staying fit helps you to avoid injuries which is one of the banes of soccer players. An off-season fitness routine should not be as intense as an on-season routine.

Another interesting point about keeping fit is that it makes you attractive for brand endorsements. Brand endorsements can help to grow your reputation in soccer which will put you in a position to negotiate better contracts.

Don’t give up until the whistle is blown

We have seen soccer teams make incredible comebacks from 3 goals down and end up winning the game. In AFCON 2021 third-place match between Burkina Faso and Cameroon, the host country Cameroon was down by 3 goals until the 71st minute.

Stephen Bahoken started the equalizer and Vincent Aboubakar completed the heroic comeback in 85th and 87th minutes to take the game to extra time. Cameroon later won on penalties.

Even if you are down by a ridiculous number of goals in soccer, you have to keep fighting until the referee blows the whistle to end the game. The mind controls the body. As soon as you start feeling defeated mentally, crippling fatigue will set in marking it harder for you to put in your best.

Don’t show how tired you are

Another thing that you should never do as a soccer player when on the field is to show your opponent that you are tired. You will sometimes see soccer players bend down and pretend like they are pulling up their socks.

At other times, the player will flop at any simple push and refuse to get up until they get some form of medical attention—during which they will take a sip from orange juice. Guess what, they are trying to catch their breath.

The coach and the rest of your opponents will be monitoring all your movements on the pitch. Have you ever watched a soccer game where suddenly most of the attacks started coming from one side of the pitch?

Sometimes it is because the player manning that wing has grown tired and the opponents want to use it to their advantage. When you show signs of tiredness, the opponent will launch more attacks towards your wing knowing that it will be hard for you to catch up..

The only time you are allowed to show how tired you are is when demanding to be substituted by your coach.

Don’t neglect any member of your team

In every group, some people will often like one or two members of the group more than others. Also, racism is still a big issue and some players may discriminate against others based on their race or skin color.

Soccer player take a knee

It is important to have mutual respect for every member of the team—whether you like them or not. Even when you think one of your teammates is not playing well, don’t starve him or her of the ball if they have a better scoring opportunity than you.

Also, you don’t want to be that soccer player that is always shouting and fingering other soccer players. Always know the time to caution, praise, or simply keep quiet. Remember, soccer is a team sport and you cannot win it alone.

Don’t stand in one place

Soccer player walking on the field

It is true that soccer players have a role they have been assigned. However, that doesn’t mean you should stand in one spot.

The only way to create scoring opportunities is to keep moving around and positioning yourself in a place where your teammates can find you and pass the ball to you.

Antonio Rudiger is a defender but you will sometimes find him driving through the middle and firing powerful shots. If you don’t move, you won’t score.


The Laws of the Game may seem like a lot to know. However, there is even much more that is not written down which you should not do in soccer.

However, if you avoid any action that can hurt you or all the other soccer players and display a high level of sportsmanship, you will less likely get into any trouble with the match officials or your teammates.

Pro soccer players still struggle to do the right thing all the time but still fail 5 to 10% of the time—but never use that as an excuse to settle for mediocrity.

Now that you know what not to do in soccer, we urge you to do the right thing.