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Why Do Soccer Players Hold Their Balls/Groin?

Why Do Soccer Players Hold Their Balls/Groin?

Soccer players have different antics and ways in which they play the game. Others just improvise where necessary while sticking to the rules.

Think about throw-in situations whereby a player wipes the ball with their shirt or cloth for extra grip and elevation when delivering. Some have gone to twist the acceptable variation of throw-ins to incorporate a sort of front flip.

Another strange one is when a player digs into the ground a bit with their toe before taking a set piece. This is common especially during penalties. All these side shows are the things that add flavor to the beautiful game.

Have you ever seen soccer players hold their groin area in the course of a match? Well, this happens at least once in a match and is very common. Of course, it can be funny or embarrassing to look at depending on a supporter’s tolerance level.

However, this particular action is acceptable in the sport without much fuss when it happens because ideal soccer lovers or sport lovers understand that different things go on in the field of play.

Why do soccer players hold their balls/groin?

Holding of balls or general groin area happens sometimes during Let us focus on why soccer players hold or touch their balls/groin area in a match.

1. Defending free kicks

The most common instance of soccer holding their balls and groin area is when they are defending free kicks be it direct or indirect. They stand side by side on a wall that is estimated to be formed about 12 yards from where the ball is placed.

The player in red prepares to take a free kick

Soccer balls can move at speeds of around 50-60 miles per hour when kicked by a professional player. Imagine a ball hitting a player from a dead position in those sensitive areas. This can be extremely painful and potentially affect reproductive health.

According to the rules, when players protect this region with their hands during set pieces, they will not concede a penalty should the ball hit any part of the arm so long as the hands are locked in that position as opposed to stretching them out.

2. When in pain

Sometimes the ball bounces and ends up hitting a player in the groin/balls region. Other times it could be as a result of contact with the opposition player or it could be a shot that hits them.

Regardless, the result is quite painful. The first instinct to try to mitigate the situation is placing hands on the groin and balls in a bid to soothe the area from the pain.

This also shows the referee and other areas the extent of injury and where it occurred. In such cases, the referee and the players can quickly sympathize with the situation as they understand how painful that can be.

3. Blocking shots

Normally, defenders are the victim of getting hit in their groin region particularly because part of their job involves blocking all attacks and shots. In these cases, the defender commits their body by throwing themselves at the ball with their legs spread out.

In order to avoid conceding a penalty, the player may choose to either tuck their hands behind their back or place them on their groin region as they are defending a shot.

players in white hold their groin to prevent the ball from hitting

4. Celebrations

Soccer involves a lot of emotions. Think of the last minute goals, firing up the ground and wild celebrations. We have seen instances where players and coaches hold their groin region or balls in celebratory mode or mock the opposition.

Balls have been used as an analogy to represent someone who is manly, courageous or bold in certain situations. Cristiano Ronaldo and Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone in April 2018 traded used this symbolism when trading jibes at each other.

The Day Cristiano Ronaldo Silenced Diego Simeone

5. Making adjustments

Soccer players wear uniforms and support clothing as part of their playing equipment. It would be very uncomfortable for a soccer player to run around with his balls and reproductive organs ‘uncontained’. That is why they normally have biker shorts underneath or boxers.

The flip side of being free is when the inner clothing becomes too tight. This can happen in a game especially because soccer players move around a lot. The remedy sometimes involves putting hands in the groin area from the outside or inside the soccer shorts in order to adjust the fit.

6. During training 

Players also get to touch their groin area sometimes during exercises and warm ups. There are specific exercises that target the groin area. These exercises require the player to touch the area as they are designed to help mitigate any potential strain or injury.

Normally, players walk off the field of play when they suffer a groin injury. Exercises such as the modified leg swings are done while holding the groin area.

Players who are freshly recovered from a groin injury normally hold it when doing their stretches as a means to gauge if they are okay to proceed with intensive workouts or not.

What do soccer players wear to protect their balls?

Professional male athletes especially in potentially dangerous sports in terms of the groin area such as baseball, cricket and hockey normally wear cups to protect their groin and balls.

In soccer the concept of cups is unthinkable. Cups would slow down a soccer player in terms of movement, flexibility and overall performance. So are there protective wear for soccer players?

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1. Biker shorts

The closest thing to compression equipment for the groin area that soccer players use is the biker shorts. They keep the balls and general reproductive organs compact. Ideally, they should match the color of the team uniform shorts

2. Boxers

These come in two forms. The first is the loose fitting boxers to supplement the team shorts while the second is the really fitting boxers that would serve the purpose closest to what biker shorts do.

3. Briefs

There are those players who prefer more space and aeration inside their soccer shorts. Therefore, they wear briefs. These occupy less space when compared to boxers or biker shorts. It all boils down to an individual player’s taste and preference.

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Last update on 2023-11-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


It is a common sight to see soccer players hold or touch their groin region in soccer. The players normally do this either for protection or as a response to being in pain.

There is literally no other way for a soccer player to shield his valuable reproductive jewels when faced with the prospect of being hit with a fierce shot that moves at a very high speed. Remember that damage to that region even from a soccer ball can damage a player’s reproductive health.

Soccer players similarly need to wear clothing that is comfortable to them as they play. That is the reason why they do not wear cups as is the case with other sports.

They normally just wear the usual inner wear clothing as they would in their everyday lives. This clothing offers much needed free movement and flexibility.

At the end of the day, holding balls and groin areas is considered normal as no player would do this without any preceding situation or anticipation for something to happen that may potentially cause damage.

The goal of soccer includes ensuring the safety of all players. That is why a player will not be penalized if he handled the ball inside the 18-yard area or outside the box if his hands were protecting his valuable part of the body.