Using Your Shoulder In Soccer

While it is often said that soccer can only be played with the feet and head, while there is some truth to that, other body parts can be used but not recommended.

One of them is the shoulder. This is a tricky area of the body to use in a soccer match because if the ball hits the shoulder too low then it is considered the arm and then will be called for a handball.

In this article, we will look at if you can use your shoulder in soccer, instances where you can use your shoulder in soccer, and why sometimes, using your shoulder is a good idea.

There are many ways to use your shoulder in soccer – find out how you can get the advantage.

○ Using Your Shoulder In Soccer ○ Pre season game between Leicester City and Everton e1628870177965
Pre-season game between Leicester City and Everton

Can you use your shoulder in soccer?

Yes, you can use your shoulder in soccer for challenging a player, defending, and scoring a goal.

An example is when defenders use their shoulders when in one-on-one duels with strikers or any other player on the pitch.


While the margin for error is rather small you can use your shoulder while playing.

Whether it be the ball bounces off another player and hits your shoulder, or if you are in a situation defensively that you must use your body and shoulder to hold off an opposition player.

Both of these examples are how you can use your shoulder during a game of soccer.

While it is important to note that using your shoulder can come with risks as if the ball does it the wrong part of your shoulder it can be deemed handball as the ball could hit the lower part of your shoulder.

Is Using Your Shoulder a Foul?

This is a rather tricky question but in short, using your shoulder in soccer is not a foul.

However, when it comes to a physical battle between two players that is where it gets a bit tricky.

When two players are contesting the ball, they can make contact with their opponent with their shoulders as long as it is done in a way that the referee deems is not:

  • Dangerous
  • Careless
  • Using excessive force
  • Reckless

There is room for contact between two players when using their shoulders, however, ultimately it will be up to the referee to deem whether it is a foul or not.

Handball in Soccer - Area of the arm
Handball in Soccer – Area of the arm

Is Using Your Shoulder Handball?

A foul is awarded if the ball touches from the armpit down, which deems it handball. Although there is so much confusion surrounding the use of a shoulder during a game as it’s not clear where the point of contact is.

This is because of the ruling stating that no player can touch the ball with a hand or arm.

The fact that is, it can be so close to calling whether a player has used their shoulder or arm regarding whether it is a foul or not. Hence why most players try to avoid doing it at all.

Ultimately it will be up to the match referee to decide if it is a foul or not and if they believe that contact was made with the arm rather than the shoulder.

To clear this up, there are several reasons as to why it could be considered an offense if a ball is deemed to touch the arm/hand:

A player touches the ball deliberately with their arm or hand and this includes moving the arm towards the ball.

  • Gaining control of the ball with the use of an arm or hand.
  • Scores a goal in the opposition’s net.
  • If using an arm creates a goal-scoring opportunity

This set of rules only applies if the ball hits the arm or hand, however, not the shoulder.

In the game of soccer, using your shoulder is not considered handball. This only happens when it is clear that the ball has in fact touched the player’s arm or hand, not the shoulder.

There is nothing in the FIFA rule book that states it is an offense for a player to use their shoulder during a match.

Can You Score a Goal With Your Shoulder?

So, we have now covered whether it is a foul or not to use your shoulder, but can use score a goal with your shoulder? Believe it or not, the answer is yes!

You are allowed to score with your shoulder and the rules state that you can score with your shoulder as long as the ball is not touched by your arm.

This is tricky because only a few centimeters separate the shoulder and arm.

Scoring with your shoulder is something that is hardly seen in the game of soccer and this is perhaps because of the fine line that players must walk.

  • Too low and it is handball, too high and you might as well use your head to score right?

It is hard to use your shoulder and score simply because it is tricky to aim and be accurate with it.

The ball can literally go in any direction and most of the time, not the way you want!

If the ball does happen to come off your shoulder, then chances are it will not come off at speed and if it does go in the direction of the goal, the keeper will more often than not have an easy save to make.

using a shoulder in soccer

So now you know that you can in fact use your shoulder in soccer. Whether it be to score a goal or to engage in a physical battle with an opponent and remember, it is not a foul to use your shoulder!

Now here is the next step, seeing as it is not a foul, why not consider trying to use your shoulder during a game? Enjoy!

Thank you for reading our articles - we hoped you've enjoyed them and are having fun playing, coaching, and watching soccer.

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