Soccer player executing a goal kick.

2019 Soccer Goal Kick Rule Change

Starting with the 2019 Fall season, there are important changes to the soccer goal kick rule. In fact, several Laws of the Game have been updated for this season. While most updates are minor, the goal kick rule changes can definitely have an impact on any youth soccer game.

This guide will educate you on the updates to the goal kick rule. It will also give you updates to my goal kick strategies for kicking and attacking teams. When done, you’ll be able to get your team ready for success with goal kicks.

2019 Soccer Rules Changes

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) has updated several Laws of the Game for the 2019/2020 season. Most youth organizations, such as the American Youth Soccer Association (AYSO), adopted these updates as well.

Most of the changes will not have an impact on youth games because they are procedural or rarely occur. Here is a simplified summary of all the rule changes.

  • Substituted players must now leave the field from the nearest boundary line
  • Referees can now show yellow and red cards to coaches
  • The coin toss winner now chooses to kick off or select a side of the field
  • The ball is now out of play if it touches the referee giving a team a significant advantage
  • The interpretation of what constitutes a handball now has minor updates
  • On a pass to the goal keeper, the keeper may now handle the ball if they first attempted to kick it
  • The referee can now delay showing a card if a quick free kick creates a scoring opportunity
  • A caution should now be given for excessive celebration even when a goal is disallowed
  • Referees no longer need to maintain the indirect free kick signal if the ball is not in scoring position
  • On a free kick, attackers must now be one yard away from any defensive wall
  • On a penalty kick, the keeper is now only required to have one foot on the goal line when kicked
  • Free kicks in a team’s own penalty are have updated rules that match the new goal kick rules. See the next section for more.

For full details on these rules, visit the IFAB Laws of the Game.

New Soccer Goal Kick Rule

The most pertinent rule change from the 2019 FIBA updates is related to goal kicks. Goal kicks happen numerous times per game at all youth levels. Understanding the finer points of the rule is critical in devising a good strategy for your goal kicks.

The updated law changes when the ball is “in play” and when players can enter the penalty area during a kick. The table below summarizes the updates.

Old RuleNew Rule
The ball is in play once it leaves the penalty area.The ball is in play once it is kicked and clearly moves.
The kicking team may be positioned inside the penalty area, but may not play the ball until it exits the penalty area.The kicking team may be positioned inside the penalty area, and may play the ball as soon as it is kicked.
The attacking team must leave the penalty area for the kick and may not play the ball until it exits the penalty area.The attacking team must leave the penalty area for the kick and may play the ball as soon as it is kicked.

The most important change above is when the ball is “in play”. Under the prior rules, the ball was not in play until it left the penalty area. Under the new rules, the ball is in play as soon as it is kicked.

The change to the “in play” rule affects when the ball can be touched by either team. Now, both teams can play the ball immediately when kicked, and while it is still inside the penalty area.

Let that sink in for a minute. That’s a huge change because now the ball is available for scoring very close to the goal. Let’s revisit our goal kick strategies to see if we need to update them reflect the new rules.

Kicking Strategies for Soccer Goal Kicks in 2019

In a previous article, I wrote about my favorite strategies for soccer goal kicks. In each of my kicking strategies, I suggest placing a defender wide and even with the ball. This defender becomes the primary target for most of the strategies.

A simple two-target setup for a soccer goal kick.
My suggested two-target setup for a soccer goal kick.

The advantage of using this placement is that it provides the maximum protection against an easy goal. In youth soccer, many attacking teams will overload the middle in front of the goal hoping for an easy score. They often forget they can move up and cover the wide defender leaving the defender open for a pass. Passing out wide also creates a terrible shooting angle if the attacking team were to get control of the ball.

Under the new rules, this strategy presents a challenge. The penalty area is quite wide, especially when you get up to 12U and 14U age divisions. If the kick out is slow, the attacking team may enter the box and attempt an easy score. And plenty of youth kickers make slow passes, so this is a valid concern.

So far, I’ve found that this setup and the resulting strategies are effective under the 2019 rules changes. The only change needed is to make sure the kick out to target player is a fast pass. I like to tell my kickers to “put some power on it”. This reminds them that a slow-roller will be dangerous.

Additionally, the receiver of the pass has to be ready for a sharply kicked ball. Remind the target player to receive the ball with the inside part of the foot so it doesn’t roll over their toes. I like to tell them to “use the fat part of the foot”. They’ll also need to receive the ball softly stealing it’s energy so it doesn’t wildly bounce off.

Attacking Strategies for Soccer Goal Kicks in 2019

Attacking forwards lining up on edge of penalty area for a goal kick.
Attacking forwards lining up on the edge of the penalty area for a goal kick.

To me, this rule change greatly favors the attacking team, especially in youth soccer. I have updated my attacking strategy to place my forwards directly on the edge of the penalty area for a goal kick. In the past, I would have had my forwards fall back a little. Now, I suggest keeping them up and letting the midfielders fill in behind them.

If the kick is a slow one, the forwards will immediately enter the penalty box and attempt to score. I had a 12U team score a goal like this in their first game with the new rule.

Interestingly, this now pretty closely mirrors the Build-Out Line Attack Strategy I recommended for 10U. The only difference is that you position your players at the edge of the penalty area rather than the build-out line.

Effectiveness

So far, I’ve had teams play three games under the new goal kick rule. The minor adjustments to the kicking strategies have worked very will. We’ve had no easy goals scored on us from goal kicks. Offensively, we’ve already had yielded one easy goal from our updated attacking strategy. With those kinds of results, I plan to keep using these strategies.

Remember to review the original article for the complete description of my strategies for soccer goal kicks. If you have any other tried-and-true methods to share, please leave a comment for the readers.

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