LOTG 14–The Penalty Kick

Law 14–The Penalty Kick

“A Penalty Kick is awarded if a player commits a DFK offence inside their penalty area, or off the field as part of play as outlined in Laws 12 and 13.”

A Foul is a Foul:   As a referee we need to approach these calls the same way you would if the same offence was committed in the middle of the field. If it’s a DFK foul, and it’s committed by the defender inside his/her own PA, you need to be brave enough to call the PK!  When I was new to the game, part of me felt sorry for the defending player that committed a foul in the area—but these are the Laws and we as referees are there to uphold them. (I’m such a softy.)  Feel free to use your voice when action gets bumpy in the penalty area! Tell them when you get the feeling that players are pushing the limits of what is acceptable contact; announce loudly: “Careful with those hands (and feet) in the penalty area!!!”

No Foul: Communication is key— Here is an important situation when you may want to be using those “unofficial signals” to let the players (and coaches/parents) know that you are right on top of the situation!  “Waving off” what may appear to have been a foul, yelling “No foul!” so they all hear you. Pointing to the ball with your hand/arm to signify that the ball is still in play (clean tackle or incidental contact), “Nothing there!”

To See it You Have to be Positioned Correctly:   Remember to be positioned in the best possible place so  you can see what’s going on in the penalty area, and that means hustling and keeping up with play, so that you are indeed right on top of the action (without getting in the way!). Slowly trotting towards the penalty area from somewhere around midfield isn’t going to help you see the foul, nor is it going to help you sell the call.

DFK Foul Committed in the Penalty Area by a Defender–>Penalty Kick

When you’ve seen the foul, signal/whistle with AUTHORITY that you are stopping play–don’t let this be a wimpy “toot”  of the whistle, but rather an emphatic blast!  Point directly with a strong gesture using your hand/arm to the Penalty Mark and be moving with your body towards the mark as well!  This strong whistle and an athletic move towards the Penalty Mark with your hand/arm pointing to it is what I mean by “selling your call.” Look and act absolutely confident that this is the right decision.


  • ball must be stationary on the penalty mark (Referee–you may want to hand the ball to the kicker and let them place it on the PM) and the goalposts, crossbar, and net must not be moving (NEW)
  • player taking the kick must be clearly identified
  • all players other than the kicker and goalkeeper must be 10yds from the penalty mark (outside the penalty arc), behind the penalty mark, inside the field of play, and outside the penalty area until the kick is taken
  • after everyone is positioned correctly, the referee signals (whistles) for the kick to be taken
  • player taking the kick must kick the ball forward
  • New Changes for 2019: “When the ball is kicked the goalkeeper must have at least part of one foot touching, or in line with, the goal line” until the ball is kicked
  • ball is “in play” when it is kicked and clearly moves
  • kicker must not play the ball again until it has touched another player
  • the PK is completed when the ball stops moving, goes OOP, or the referee stops play for an offence

Penalty Kicks at the end of the half or the end of the match–“EXTENDED TIME”

Sometimes a foul is committed towards the end of a half (or the end of the match), and often due to the excitement and confusion and discussion going on you find yourself running out of time at the end of that half. In these cases, you must allow additional time for the PK to be taken at the end of the half, (or match, or extra time).

In these cases you may want to indicate to the players, and to both sidelines (Coaches), that the PK will still be taken in “extended time.”  You may want to let them know that once the PK is “completed,” that’s it and the half/match is over.   Once the kick is taken either the ball goes into the net, or it goes directly out of play, or it rebounds off the goal or is saved by the keeper.  In regular play, where play in the case of a goalkeeper save and the ball ricochets out into the field of play, or the ball rebounds off the goal structure—play continues!  in the situation of extended time, once the PK is completed time is up and there is no follow-through play allowed. It’s just the kick and that’s it, no rebounding ball can be played again by any player (teammate or opponent). Time is up!



Immediately preceding and during the taking of a PK there are several things that can “go wrong.” On one hand the kicker/attacking team can commit infringements. On the other hand, the goalkeeper/defending team can commit infringements. There may also be a situation where both of the players/teams commit an infringement.

In normal AYSO situations, a lot of emphasis is put on the goalkeeper and making sure he/she stays on the goal line until the ball is kicked. The truth is there is much more to watch out for besides a goalkeeper coming off his/her line prematurely—we need to watch all of the players (including the kicker) on both teams to adequately uphold Law 14.

So what can go wrong?

“Once the referee has signalled for the PK to be taken, the kick must be taken; NEW 2019 Text:  if it is not taken the referee may take disciplinary action before signalling again for the kick to be taken (does this mean the ref stops play if he can before the kick is taken rather than letting the kicker take the PK?)

  • attacking team (kicker or teammate) commits an offence–i.e. attackers encroach, enter PA before kicker kicks ball
    • if ball goes in goal—kick is retaken
    • if ball does not enter goal (and stays in play)—referee stops play, restarts with IFK (for defenders) from place of offence [what if the ball sails over the goal? restart with GK or IFK ?]
  • except for the following, when play will be stopped and restarted with IFK (at PM) regardless if ball went into goal or not
    • ***kicker takes/kicks PK backwards (ball goes backwards, not forward)—IFK, (no card)
      • [back-heeling is ok]
    • ***wrong kicker; team-mate of kicker takes kick—IFK, Caution (YC) wrong kicker
    • ***feinting after run-up is completed (feinting during run-up is permitted)—IFK, Caution (YC) kicker
  • defending team (goalkeeper or team-mate) commits an offence–i.e. defenders encroach, enter PA before kicker kicks ball
    • if ball enters goal—goal is awarded!!!
    • if ball does not enter the goal—kick is retaken [what if ball sails over the goal? restart with GK or retake PK?]
      • *if goalkeeper leaves prematurely—Retake kick, Caution (YC) goalkeeper [what if ball sails over the goal? do we still Caution? restart with GK or retake PK?]
  • both teams commit an offence
    • the kick is Retaken unless a player commits a more serious offence (e.g. illegal feinting vs defender encroaching)
  • both the kicker and the goalkeeper commit at the same time
    • if kick is missed or saved–Retake kick, Caution (YC) both players
    • if kick is scored–Disallow goal, Caution (YC) kicker, IFK for defenders

Once the referee has signalled for a PK to be taken, the kick must be taken; if it is not taken the referee may take disciplinary action before signalling for the kick to be taken.” (New 2019)

  • [i think this means that the referee can sanction for an infringement that occurs sometime between the whistle to signal the kicker to take the kick and before he/she actually takes the kick
    • the ref would have to delay the PK (whistle to stop play), then sanction the offender(s), and then signal again for the PK to be taken
      • there would not be a different Free Kick based on that subsequent infringement because the PK had not been successfully taken, yet. Sanction the offender and then set up and take the PK as originally intended.]

“If, after the PK has been taken:”

  • kicker touches the ball again (a second time) before it has touched another player—IFK awarded
  • ball is touched by an outside agent as it moves forward
    • kick is Retaken unless ball is going into the goal and the interference does not prevent the goalkeeper or a defending player playing the ball
      • in which case the Goal is awarded if the ball enters the goal (even if contact was made with the ball) unless the ball enters the opponents’ goal
      • [if ball hits OA but doesn’t go into goal? Restart with Dropped Ball?]
  • ball rebounds into FOP from the keeper, crossbar, goalposts and is then touched by an outside agent
    • referee stops play
    • Restart with Dropped Ball at the position where it touched the outside agent


See Summary Table