Soccer goalkeepers have a lot of rules that are unique to the position and different from all other positions on the field. If you’re curious about whether or not a soccer goalie can cross the midfield line, you’ve come to the right place.
A goalkeeper can go anywhere on the field and even cross midfield. Once the goalkeeper leaves the penalty area, they are considered a regular field player and cannot handle the ball as they can inside the penalty area. Leaving the penalty area puts the goalie’s team at a significant disadvantage.
Keep reading to learn more about the rules of the goalie, specifically where on the field the goalie can go.
Can a soccer goalie cross the midfield?
A soccer goalie, while they’re generally supposed to stay inside their penalty area (which is the marked box on the field surrounding the goalpost), is permitted to leave this area and cross the midfield.
Goalies should use their best judgment and only leave the penalty area when absolutely necessary or when they judge it will benefit their team, as doing so will leave their goal vulnerable to scores. Goalies should return to their penalty area as quickly as possible to avoid the opposing team from scoring goals while they’re unable to defend it.
What happens when a soccer goalie leaves the penalty area?
Because a soccer goalie is permitted to leave the penalty area, they won’t receive any penalty or card, unless they touch the ball. Once a soccer goalie leaves the penalty area, they are considered a regular field player and must play like one.
This includes no longer being permitted to handle the ball like they would be able to while inside the penalty area, and instead only being able to maneuver the ball with their feet or legs.
When any player handles the ball, including the goalie once they are outside the penalty box, the opposing team will be awarded a free kick, and if it prevented a goal for the opposing team, the goalie may even receive a yellow card or red card.
Once they return to the penalty area, then they are allowed to handle the ball with their hands as a way to deflect the ball.
When the soccer goalie is no longer defending the goal, it leaves the goal vulnerable and the goalie’s team at risk of losing points. Without a goalie guarding the goal, the opposing team has a much easier time scoring a goal, for obvious reasons.
For these reasons, we recommend that as a goalie, you don’t leave the penalty box. Because the penalty box is wide enough for you to be able to do your job as a goalie, there’s really no reason to leave it, and instead, you should leave the field stuff to the midfielders, outfielders, and all your other teammates who are meant to stay outside the penalty box.
If your team is running low on players because of fouls and injuries, and there aren’t enough substitutes to replace those players, then you may feel more inclined to leave the penalty box and help out your team. This is justifiable, but should again be done with extreme caution because it could do your team more harm than good if you’re not careful and watchful.
How far out can a soccer goalie go?
Much like everyone else on the team, there are no restrictions as to where the soccer goalie can and cannot go during the gameplay.
This includes past the midfield. The only difference is that while nobody is permitted to enter the penalty box of the opposing team, only the goalie may enter or play inside their own penalty box. All other players may not cross the line for the penalty box, except after a penalty kick.
Oftentimes, a goalkeeper will leave the penalty box and go up to make a corner kick within the last few seconds of a game in order to score a goal to win the game or end the game with a draw.
This has occurred in several professional games in the last high-pressure few minutes of the game, including a soccer match for the Italian football league Serie A.
Some goalkeepers are also granted the opportunity to make a free kick if the opposing team commits a foul or misdemeanor, which can occur anywhere that the misdemeanor occurred.
Which players can or cannot cross the midfield?
Just like the goalkeeper, there are no restrictions as to where on the field each player can cross, except for the opposing team’s penalty box.
Players can cross the line to their penalty box if and only if, they are a goalkeeper, or the opposing team has just made a penalty kick. With that said, all players can cross the midfield, regardless of which position they play.
Most players on each team avoid crossing the midfield because the main focus is instead on protecting and defending the goal rather than getting close shots at the opposing team’s goal, so they tend to stay close to their own goal.
This is also why the goalie tends never to leave the penalty box, as their main priority is to be the last line of defense for the team’s goal.
Handling the ball inside and outside the penalty box
When it comes to handling the ball, it goes without saying that only the goalie may handle the ball. This comes with some exceptions, however.
As we’ve discussed above, the goalie may only handle the ball while inside the penalty box, but nowhere outside can they handle the ball or touch the ball with their hands or arms.
Outside the penalty area, they play the role of all other players, and thus anything considered a handball is a punishable offense. Penalties include a penalty kick or free kick awarded to the opposing team, or that player receiving a yellow or red card.
Inside the penalty box, the goalie may touch the ball with any part of their body. Inside the penalty box refers to where the ball is, not where the player is. If the ball is outside the box, and the goalie is inside, then the goalie cannot touch the ball with his or her hands or arms.
If the ball has passed the penalty box line, they may handle it. Otherwise, touching the ball while it is still outside the penalty box, whether the goalie is inside or outside the lines, will be considered a handball and thus penalized per the referee’s judgment. If the ball is passed to the goalie from a teammate, however, they may not handle the ball.