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Why Do Soccer Players Raise their Hands?

If you’ve been following soccer closely, you’ve likely observed a recurring action where players frequently raise their hands during matches. As you immerse yourself in the game, you might even start to anticipate these moments, prompting questions about the purpose behind this seemingly common practice. Does it have a strategic value, does it add a touch of flair, or does it conceal a deeper significance?

Stay engaged as I delve into the motivations driving this ubiquitous gesture. In the following discussion, I’ll unravel the key reasons why players often employ this action on the field, providing you with insights into its multifaceted nature.

Reasons Why Footballers Put Their Hands up During the Game?

You might have already caught on to the fact that I’ve used the word “reasons” intentionally. The rationale behind this is simple: there isn’t a singular explanation for why soccer players engage in this gesture. Instead, there exists a wide array of motivations that drive players to raise their hands during the course of a game. The actions on the field are as diverse as the players themselves, and this diversity extends to the multitude of reasons behind this prevalent practice. In the upcoming discussion, I’ll unpack the various factors that contribute to players adopting this gesture, offering you a comprehensive view of the dynamic and multifaceted nature of this phenomenon.

During a Corner

Frequent instances of hand-raising often catch our attention, particularly during set-pieces or corner kicks.

Interestingly, the rulebook lacks a definitive directive on this matter. Hence, players aren’t adhering to a specific guideline but rather making a personal choice regarding this gesture.

The underlying rationale, however, is refreshingly straightforward—this gesture serves as a signal to their teammates, indicating their readiness to initiate action. In many ways, it resembles the race flag being waved before the commencement of a race.

In the subsequent sections of this article, we’ll delve deeper into this facet of the game, exploring the nuances that make this communication tactic an integral part of soccer strategies.

Referee Deception

An integral aspect of the intricate game of soccer involves strategizing to sway referee decisions in your favor.

Navigating this aspect often includes a dose of artful deception. The act of raising hands serves the purpose of signaling possession to the referee—a genuine claim in most instances. However, keen observers of the sport will notice that even players from the opposing team might engage in this gesture, even when the ball is unequivocally not under their control.

It’s a crafty ploy, intended to subtly divert the referee’s attention. Whether it’s a successful tactic or not, the act of raising hands remains a sly strategy worth employing. The beauty lies in its audacious attempt to influence the course of the game, all while adding an intriguing layer to the dynamics between players and referees.


The players’ inclination to signal for a penalty when they perceive they’ve been wronged is a recurrent scenario.

What adds a layer of amusement is the synchronicity with which players from both sides raise their hands when a penalty is in question. It’s intriguing how this action persists regardless of the clarity of the situation. The underlying drive is clear: players strive to gain even the slightest edge for their team, no matter the circumstances.

By staking a claim to the penalty, players exert a subtle yet palpable pressure on the referee to make a decision. In certain cases, less experienced referees might succumb to this influence and award the penalty to the hand-raisers.

Curiously, the landscape has shifted over time. With nearly all players employing the hand-raising tactic either in favor or against a call, the cumulative effect seems to have neutralized itself. What was once a potent strategy now bears witness to the intricate dance of psychology and strategy, where players’ actions seek to tip the scales in their favor.


In soccer, when a player sustains an injury on the field, a common sight is players raising their hands, signaling either to their team or the referee.

Upon verifying that the signal pertains to an injury, it becomes an imperative to swiftly halt the actions of the opposing team. This intervention serves to prevent any potential exploitation that might arise from playing with a numerical advantage due to the injured player’s absence.

Ultimately, the authority to determine whether the game should be paused or allowed to continue rests with the referee. Typically, the course of action leans towards a temporary suspension of play, affording the injured player the necessary medical attention. This deliberate pause underscores the sport’s commitment to player safety and ensures that the game resumes on an equitable footing for all teams involved.

Offside Calling

In earlier times, the responsibility of determining offside was squarely placed on the shoulders of the on-field referees, as the concept of VAR (Video Assistant Referees) had not yet come into play.

In the absence of VAR, players adopted a strategic approach by raising their hands when they believed a fellow player was in an offside position. Essentially, this gesture was akin to informing the referee that a potential offside situation was at hand.

The introduction of VAR revolutionized the game, providing the referee with a technologically backed tool to ascertain with remarkable precision whether a player was indeed in an offside position. This technological advancement significantly outshines the erstwhile method of relying solely on the “eye judgment” of the referees.

With VAR stepping in as a reliable assistant, the game has embraced a more accurate and fair means of addressing offside scenarios, rendering the act of players raising their hands less pivotal in this particular context.

Does Hand Raising Put Pressure on the Referees?

Regrettably, quantifying the impact of exerting pressure on referees remains a challenge, primarily due to the absence of a standardized metric for evaluating their decisions.

Considering the mechanics of pressure, it’s reasonable to assume that the repeated expression of dissent from players could indeed influence the referee’s perspective. The cumulative effect of such opposition could subtly sway the referee’s judgment over time.

When a player contests a call, there are essentially two potential outcomes. The first involves the referee disregarding the opposition entirely. The second entails the referee reconsidering their initial decision—an occurrence that tends to be quite rare.

Yet, the scarcity of instances where referees reverse their judgments should not discourage players from expressing their opposition to calls. While immediate impact may not always materialize, the persistence of players in challenging decisions could yield long-term benefits. This could lead to heightened vigilance from the referee, resulting in more attentive officiating as the game unfolds.

Why Do Soccer Players Raise Their Hand When Taking a Corner Kick?

As previously highlighted, the act of raising hands primarily serves as a communication tool for teammates.

However, you might be pondering why such a signal is necessary when players could potentially initiate their runs without it. After all, they likely rehearsed these plays extensively—so why the reliance on the signal?

The rationale stems from the chaotic nature of the penalty box during moments like corner kicks. Amid the clustered players, identifying the specific player designated to take the corner kick becomes a challenge. In such a scenario, a raised hand serves as a highly visible cue, easier to spot than, say, a foot making contact with the ball. This clear visual indicator cuts through the commotion, ensuring seamless communication even amidst the frenzy, and enabling teammates to synchronize their movements effectively.

Do You Need to Raise Your Hand When Taking a Corner Kick?

Curiously, there exists no stipulated rule within the game governing the specific action of raising hands during corner kicks—it ultimately boils down to the player’s discretion.

Even David Beckham, widely acclaimed as one of the greatest corner kick specialists in the sport, defies the convention. Beckham forgoes the raised hand gesture, commencing his kicking motion as soon as he’s poised. The onus, therefore, falls on his teammates to impeccably time their movements.

In the realm of soccer, both raising and not raising the hand stand as valid approaches during corner kicks. The choice hinges on the tactical play at hand. Should a team find itself better positioned and more prepared than the opposing defense, refraining from the traditional hand signal can serve as a strategic move. This unexpected maneuver has the potential to catch the opposition off-guard, reflecting the dynamic nature of soccer strategies and the ever-evolving tactics that shape the beautiful game.

Advantage of Not Raising Hands During a Corner Kick

In the realm of corner kicks, a plethora of instances has unfolded sans the customary raised hand signal.

A particularly noteworthy incident transpired on May 7, 2019, during a pivotal Champions League match. This episode encapsulates the essence of a “no hand raised” kick. Intriguingly, it was the keen observation of a young spectator that set the wheels in motion. Recognizing that the defense was yet to solidify, the kicker seized this opportunity and swiftly launched the ball, catching the opposition off-guard. The result? An effortless goal that unfolded in a fraction of a moment.

While some might categorize this move as audaciously clever, the essence lies in the defensive vulnerability that enabled such a maneuver. This illustrative anecdote exemplifies how eschewing the traditional hand signal can prove advantageous for the attacking side. It underscores the strategic nuances that play a pivotal role in shaping the outcomes of soccer matches, showcasing how a keen grasp of the game’s dynamics can lead to opportune and effective plays.

Is Hand Raising Here to Stay? 

There’s no indication that the practice of hand-raising will fade from the soccer scene anytime soon.

In fact, I’d venture to assert that this gesture has become an inseparable part of the sport’s fabric, particularly in the realm of professional play. It’s become a universal norm—adopted by players across the spectrum.

Furthermore, in the dynamic arena of soccer, keeping your hands down is quite the challenge. In a sport where possession is of paramount importance, the act of raising hands has garnered considerable value. It has evolved into a near-automatic response, regardless of which team the call favors.

The art of contesting a call carries substantial weight, as it can swing the momentum in either direction. In the delicate balance of influencing the game’s trajectory, players resort to every measure available—including the ubiquitous hand-raising gesture. When the stakes are high and outcomes hang in the balance, players are willing to employ any strategy at their disposal, even if it entails raising hands in response to every call.

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