The Corner Kick – Law 17



When the defending team in soccer touches the ball over its own end line, either on the ground or in the air, the ball is out of play and the game is restarted by the attacking team with a “Corner Kick.” The rules governing a corner kick are contained in Law 17 of the Laws of the Game. In Law 17, each of the two end lines is technically referred to as the “Goal Line.” The Goal Lines run all the way from one corner of the end of the field to the other corner of the same end of the field and include the space between the goal posts. Because the term “Goal Line” causes confusion between that part of the line that is inside the goalposts and that part of the line that is outside the posts, coaches and players have taken to calling the line outside the posts the “by-line,” “bye-line,” or “bi-line.”

The basic narrative of Law 17 states, “A corner kick is awarded when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, on the ground or in the air, having last touched a player of the defending team, and a goal is not scored.”

The procedural requirements for implementing a corner kick are:

– The ball has not gone into the goal itself and scored in accordance with Law 10.
– The entire ball has gone over the end line, either on the ground or in the air. In accordance with Law 9, the ball is out of play the instant this happens. It may not curve back in to play.
– The ball was last touched by a player of the defending team before going over the end line. This can happen in any number of ways, including goalkeeper deflections, kicks, headers, tackles, and rebounds. It does not matter what part of the body of the defender last touched the ball (unless deliberate handling occurs first).
– The corner kick is to be taken from the corner arc closest to the point where the ball crossed the left or right side of the end line. An imaginary line is perceived to exist, going straight up from the middle of the end line through the crossbar into the air, which creates the bisector used to make this determination.
– The ball is to be placed within the corner arc and the corner flagpost is not to be moved or removed.
– The ball must be set still before it is kicked.
– The ball must be kicked back into play by any player of the attacking team.  The ball is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves.  The ball does not need to leave the corner arc to be live.
– Defenders must be at least 10-yards away in all directions from the corner arc (11-yards from the corner intersection itself) until the ball is kicked.
– The ball is immediately in play when it is kicked and moves. As soon as the ball is kicked the defenders may move into the previously restricted area.
– The kicker must not touch the ball a second time until it has been touched by another player from either team.

Violations of the corner kick law and procedure include the following:

– For a corner kick taken by an attacking team player if, after the ball has been put into play, the kicker touches the ball again (except for handling), before the ball has been touched by any other player, an indirect free kick shall be awarded to the opposing team. The kick is to be taken at the spot where the second touch occurred.
– If, after the ball is in play, the kicker commits a handball offense before it is touched by any other player, a direct free kick shall be awarded to the opposing team, to be taken where the ball was handled. (If the handling occurs inside the kicker’s penalty area – at the other end of the field – then a penalty kick shall be awarded.)
– For a corner kick taken by the attacking team’s goalkeeper, the goalkeeper only has his handling privileges within his own Penalty area, so for any violation he is treated as any other field player.
– For any other violations, such as encroachment, the kick is to be retaken.

Soccer Coaching Tips:

– The flagposts are part of the field and are in play. If the ball rebounds off a flagpost back into the field of play, no corner kick is awarded. If the ball deflects off a flagpost and over the endline, a corner kick is awarded if the ball was last touched by a defender.
– Players first learning to take corner kicks need to have a flagpost in place and be taught not to remove it, otherwise they will pull it up to get it out of the way.
– If a defender fails to move the required distance away from the corner arc before the corner kick is taken, he is subject to being verbally warned and then cautioned (yellow carded) by the referee.
– Optional Marks (or “hash marks”) may be placed just outside the lines of the field by both the endlines and the sidelines to aid the referee in keeping the defenders the proper distance from the corner arc before a kick is taken. These marks are described in Law 1.  These marks are 10-yards away from the intersection of the corner-arc line and each boundary line.  That’s why they are 11-yards from the corner posts.  These marks do not affect attacking teammates.  They may be as close to the kick as they want.
– The ball can actually be “kicked” (touched) within one portion of the corner arc and never leave the corner arc. This ball is in play when first touched and all other rules apply.
– Since a goal may be scored directly from a corner kick, the kick may be considered to be a “direct free kick” restart.
– It can be quite fun to practice “inswingers” used to curve the ball directly into the goal from a corner kick. A real goal scored this way in a match has been referred to as an “Olympic” goal.  (This means “heroic” and is not associated with the “Olympic Games.”
– A player taking a corner kick could, intentionally, kick the ball off a defender in order to retrieve it and play it again. If this is not done in a careless or reckless manner, and does not use excessive force, it is legal and the referee should allow it.
– A corner kick can be taken in such a way that the ball goes over the endline, usually in the air (an attempted “outswinger”), and then curves back into the field of play. The ball is out of play the instant it goes completely over the line and a Goal Kick is to be awarded.
– In a very odd case, a corner kick is to be awarded if an indirect free kick is taken from within the field of play and the ball goes into the kicking team’s own goal without touching anyone first.
– The line delineating the corner kick arc is part of the corner kick arc, therefore the ball may placed on the line or within the area of the arc.  The ball does not have to be wholly within the corner kick arc lines.
– There is no offside at the time the corner kick is taken. This applies to any attacking player who directly receives the kick because at the time of the kick, in effect, all players are behind the ball. Depending on what happens next however, if a shot does not immediately occur and the ball begins to bounce or be passed around, attackers may be placed in an offside position by the defense.
– Based on local or competition rules, after a corner kick has been declared but before it has been taken, coaches may be allowed to make substitutions.

NOTICE:  This article is based on the soccer Laws of the Game as maintained by The International Football Association Board (IFAB).  As represented in the article, the Laws may be paraphrased, edited for “American English” readability, or quoted in whole or in part.  Supplemental wording presented by® should be provided in brackets.  Every effort has been made to be faithful to the letter, spirit, and intent of the Laws however, since the Laws are subject to modification annually by the IFAB, recent changes may not be currently reflected.  Although national associations are permitted to institute local rules changes to the Laws, particularly for “youth, veterans, disability and grassroots football,” the IFAB is the original source for the official English-language version of the Laws of the Game.  If there is any question, the Laws of the Game may be found at

© Copyright, John C. Harves