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A player performing a throw-in during a game.

A throw-in is a method of restarting play in a game of Association football.



The throw-in is taken from the point where it crossed the touch-line. Opposing players may stand at any distance from the thrower, so long as he is still on the pitch.

At the moment of delivering the ball, the thrower must face the field of play, have both feet on the ground on or outside the touch line, and use both hands to deliver the ball from behind and over his head.

The ball becomes in play as soon as it enters the field of play.

A goal may not be scored directly from a throw-in. A player may not be penalised for being in an offside position direct from a throw-in.


Handspring throw-in

A player performing a handspring throw-in

The handspring throw-in, flip throw-in, or somersault throw-in is a type of throw-in, rarely used in competitive games, where the player completes a front handspring (somersault) while holding the ball. Instead of landing on the hands during the handspring, the player's weight is momentarily supported entirely by the ball. The handspring throw-in can provide greater ball speed and thus may be used for long throw-ins, somewhat similar to a corner kick. This type of throw-in follows all of the rules that require the player to have both feet on the ground when he/she is releasing the ball, the ball is thrown from behind the head, and the ball is thrown with equal force by both hands. Strong abdominal muscles are required for this throw-in.[1]


If an opposing player fails to respect the required distance before the ball is in play or otherwise unfairly distracts or impedes the thrower he or she may receive a caution (yellow card).

If the thrower fails to deliver the ball as per the required procedure, or delivers it from a point other than where the ball left the field of play, the throw-in is awarded to the opposing team.

It is an offence for the thrower to touch the ball a second time until it has been touched by another player; this is punishable by an indirect free kick to the defending team from where the offence occurred, unless the second touch was also a more serious handling offence, in which case it is punishable by a direct free kick or penalty kick, as appropriate.


Stoke City's Rory Delap delivering a long throw.

The optimal release angle for attaining maximum distance is about 30 degrees, according to researchers at Brunel University.[2] This angle balances the objectives of maximizing height, which allows the ball more time to travel horizontally, while minimizing air resistance, which slows the ball thus reducing its horizontal distance.

Delivering the ball into the penalty area from a long distance with a throw-in can be a great attacking skill, similar to a corner kick or an indirect free kick. This is a difficult distance to reach with a throw-in, and the ability to do so is a valuable skill. In particular, Rory Delap, a midfielder for Stoke City is known for his long-throw abilities, which have made many goals for Stoke. In fact, the danger factor of Delap's long throw-ins for Stoke have resulted in opponents preferring to put the ball out for a corner rather than for a throw-in.

Historical origins of the throw-in

The modern throw-in comes from the nineteenth century English public school football games. In these codes of football a variety of methods of returning the ball into play from touch were used. The modern throw-in draws upon various aspects of a number early English school games. For example, returning the ball by throwing it out was part of the Rugby and Cheltenham football rules. Like the modern throw-in the direction was not specified. The Sheffield rules instigated the throw in of the ball at right angles by the opposite side to the one that played it into touch[3] The two handed throw in is part of rugby union football - see "line out". That the first side reaching the ball must throw it out (at right angles, in this case) was part of the Football Association rules and the Rossall rules.


  1. ^
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  3. ^ Football: The first hundred years. The untold story. Adrian Harvey. Routledge, Abingdon 2005 page 184

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Simple English

A throw-in in football (soccer) is when the ball has come off the opposite team, the other team picks that ball up and throws it in and the game continues. When you throw in you have to keep your hands behind your head and your feet on the ground or the throw will be passed on to the other team.


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