Ball to handThis week’s weekly football post explains the phrase ball to hand. Find out more about this phrase by reading the transcript below and you can also find many more examples of soccer vocabulary by going to our football cliches page here and our huge football glossary here.

Ball to hand

This week’s English for football phrase is ‘ball to hand’. In football only the goalkeeper is allowed to use his/her hands and so if an outfield player touches the ball with his/her hand then the referee may award a free kick or even a penalty. But handball is a very controversial area of football – a grey area – where things such as deliberate or accidental handball are important factors for referees when making decisions. Another ‘grey’ area is the phrase ‘ball to hand‘ which suggests that a player cannot get out of the way of the ball; it’s not deliberate handball but accidental which means that some referees will not award a free kick or penalty when this happens. Ball to hand.

  • Example: Liverpool thought they should have had at least one penalty in their Europa League Cup final defeat to Sevilla but the referee said no as he interpreted it as ‘ball to hand‘.

If you have any ideas on some football phrases for our site, let us know by emailing us at Check out our glossary of footballing phrases here


Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football

Free football language podcast for learners of English brought to you by Damian and Damon. Interviews, match reviews, predictions all with full language support for football fans around the world who wish to improve their English language skills.

Welcome to the website that helps students interested in football improve their English language skills. Soccer fans can enhance these skills with lots of free language resources: a weekly podcast, football phrases, explanations of football vocabulary, football cliches, worksheets, quizzes and much more at

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BEpisode 458