The referee indicates Direct free kick—indicating direction with one hand and arm. Indirect free kick: Until the ball is played, the referee holds one hand straight in the air. Goal Kick: The referee directs the ball toward the goal. Both arms are extended in front of you, palms up. Throw-In: The referee points to or near the ground with one hand. He or she does not have to be touching the ground.
See also "What is the role of the referee?" below.
Referees use several different signals to communicate with players and coaches during games. These include flags, lights, horns, and microphone flags.
Flags are used to indicate where players can go on the field, timeouts, and other important information during a game. There are two main types of flags used by referees: standard and advantage. A standard flag takes about 2 minutes to reset itself after being raised or lowered. An advantage flag does not reset itself and must be lifted at each use. Advantage flags should only be used for very important messages that need to be communicated quickly during the game.
Lights are used to signal end of period breaks during games that are scheduled to finish by nightfall. The referee raises both hands above his/her head while looking towards the sky to signal the break. Lights can also be used as a reminder for any last-minute changes to be made to the playing schedule.
A direct free kick is signaled by extending the arm horizontally, whereas an indirect free kick is marked by raising the arm vertically over the head. A typical approach for distinguishing the various signs is for the referee to hold his hand above his head, forming the letter "I" for an indirect free kick.
A direct free kick cannot be granted in the penalty area of the opposing team: if a team commits an offense typically punishable by a direct free kick in its own penalty area, a penalty kick is awarded instead. For any offense committed anywhere, an indirect free kick may be given.
A goal kick is signaled by a referee who points at the goal with his arm straight and parallel to the ground. A corner kick is indicated by a referee pointing to the corner flag with his arm raised. Keep an eye out for goals. There are no official goalsignals. The only way to indicate that you think there might be a goal is to raise your arm in the air when telling the referee so.
There are three ways that a referee can indicate that he wants a free-kick: he can point to any part of the field, he can use his hand (but not his arm) or he can raise his arm above his head. If the offender causes the ball to go out of play, a penalty kick is given. If it stays down, then they get another chance to score.
The best place to watch a game and spot a referee is from an official vantage point. They have a clear view of the pitch and will often signal events such as fouls, injuries and kicks off the field of play.
In addition to signaling certain events, a referee can also signal for time-outs during games. These time-outs are used by the coaches to discuss strategy with their players and tell them where they should be positioned on the field. The referee signals this activity by raising his arm overhead. There are two time-outs per half.
A quick free kick can be taken by the attacking side in any situation without notifying the referee, either verbally or visually, and after ensuring there is a distance of at least 10 yards from an opposition player so as not to block the movement of play. A free kick may also be awarded for handball by a defender under their own goal line or for any other reason by the referee.
Taking a free kick while in possession of the ball will automatically result in a free kick being given to the opposing team. If the free kick is taken while stationary, the opposing team will be given a corner instead.
There are two ways that a free kick can be scored against your team: by hitting the ball with the arm or head, or by deliberately kicking the ball away. If you hit the ball into the stands or over the sideline, it is considered a foul and a free kick is awarded to the other team. If you deliberately kick the ball away, this is known as a free kick giveaway and the opposing team will have a chance to score directly from the free kick.
It is important to note that if the opposing team scores during the time that you have possession of the ball, they will usually get another free kick. This is called a counter-attack mode free kick because you are giving your opponent freedom to attack again.
A direct free kick, or DFK, is indicated by a referee blowing his whistle and raising his arm in the direction of the goal that the side granted the free kick is attacking. When one of the players commits one of the 10 penal fouls against an opponent, a DFK is awarded. A DFK has the potential to score a goal.
An indirect free kick, or IFK, is indicated by the referee raising his arm vertically above his head. The advantage is given to the team that receives the IFK. Like a direct free kick, an indirect free kick has the potential to score a goal. However, unlike a direct free kick, the player taking the shot at the ball cannot contact it with their body before it crosses the line into the field of play. Instead, they must wait for it to drop below shoulder height before shooting.
Indirect free kicks are useful because you can place a player in position to take advantage of an opportunity that may not present itself any other way. For example, if there is no free space near the box ahead of a last second game-winning penalty kick, the goalkeeper could be replaced by a defender. This would leave the opposing team with only its defense positioned close to the box against the goalkeeper who is many yards away. An indirect free kick gives the team freedom to change the formation without sacrificing too much momentum from the previous play.