Why Do Footballers Raise Their Hands

The 4 Main Reasons Why Footballers RAISE Their Hands

Last updated on December 1st, 2022

You may have seen a footballer raising his hand during a soccer match, and you may wonder what’s the reason for this?

Here are 5 scenarios where a footballer may raise their hands:

  1. Signalling to their teammates when taking a corner
  2. Claiming the ball when it goes out of play
  3. Showing respect to their former club after scoring against them
  4. To show the player with the ball that you are open
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Why do footballers raise their hands when taking a corner?

The footballer taking the corner usually uses his hands to signal to his teammates where he will be placing the ball. These are usually part of a routine that the team has rehearsed during training.

Corners are usually well-rehearsed set pieces that a manager will want to perfect. If your team has many players with good physicality, a corner may help you to score a goal!

As such, every corner is precious and has to be taken well.

There are 7 different types of corners that can be played, including:

  1. Short corners
  2. Near-post corners
  3. Far-post corners
  4. Mid-range corners
  5. Direct corners
  6. In-swinging corners
  7. Out-swinging corners

It is possible for the corner kick taker to score directly from a corner kick too.

It can be really difficult for the team to know which tactic the corner kick taker will use! As such, the taker will usually use his hands as a signal to show where they intend to place the ball.

This will help his teammates to know the direction and position that he intends to send the ball to. As such, his teammates will position themselves better to receive the ball.

In the past, these signals used to be rather straightforward:

  1. Near post (left arm raised)
  2. Far post (right arm raised)
  3. Centre (both arms raised)

However, the tactics have evolved a lot. Now, a manager may develop a corner kick routine against a specific team!

It will be very hard to try and make sense of every signal that the corner taker gives out.

You can find out what happens if the football hits the corner flag here.

It may just be a signal to his teammates to get ready

During a football match, there are many distractions all around. As such, the corner taker may raise their hands as a signal to his teammates to get ready as he is about to kick the ball.

This will help his teammates to focus better and be more prepared for the set-piece routine!

For some corner routines, your teammates may need to make runs as part of the tactic.

Raising your hand will help to give them the signal to start making these runs.

Players can use other signals besides raising their hands

Since there are so many different routines a team may have, you may run out of hands to signal to your team. As such, the corner taker can use other signals as well, such as:

  1. Putting a hand on the hip
  2. Scratching his nose
  3. Rubbing his face or chin
  4. Pulling up your socks

It is very important that your teammates stay focused. This will allow them to know which routine you’ll be carrying out!

Why do football players raise their hands when the ball goes out?

Sometimes when the ball goes out of play, the decision is very tight. The referee may not be able to see which player last touched the ball. As such, players may try to influence the referee by raising their hand to stake a claim for the possession.

Players raise their hands to claim that the opponent last touched the ball, so they should be the one having the throw-in.

If it is rather controversial, the referee may need some time before making the decision. However, the referee is human too. If a player is assertive and insists that he should have the ball, the referee may just be influenced and give possession to them.

The referee may still give possession to the player even though he last touched the ball, just because he was more vocal!

Players raise their hands for any claims, not just when the ball goes out of play

Players do not just raise their hands to claim possession. There are other scenarios where they want to stake their claim as well:

#1 Handball

A defender may block the ball with his arm inside the penalty box. When this happens, a penalty will be awarded to the attacking team.

It is almost instinctive for the strikers to raise their hands whenever the ball touches a defender’s arm. The strikers will try their best to demand a penalty whenever this scenario happens.

There are times when the goalkeeper can be sent off for a handball as well!

Even though there may not be a handball, football players will still argue with the referee.

There is a chance that the referee may be influenced by the players, especially if the team is more successful!

Here is another situation when Bayern Munich player Thomas Muller is claiming for a handball after his shot is blocked by a defender.

In a game of football, players may do whatever they can to win the match. By influencing the referees to make certain decisions, this may help them to come out as the winners.

#2 Offside

This is now the reverse of handball. The defenders will try to catch the striker offside, so that he is unable to score his goal.

You can find out how the offside rule applies when the attackers have dribbled past the last defender here.

If the player receiving the ball is in an offside position, the defenders may raise their hands to alert the referee that he is offside. When an attacker is in an offside position, the goal that he scored will not count.

Manuel Neuer is someone who is extremely guilty of this. When a goal is scored against him, he has a tendency to raise his arms in objection to the referee. He usually does this even when the goal is not offside.

The German media came up with the word, Reklamierarm (roughly translated as arm of objection), to describe Neuer!

Why do football players put their hands up when they score against their old team?

When players score against their former team, they may put up their hands during the celebration. This is done as a form of respect to his former club by not celebrating excessively.

Some players may celebrate excessively by taking off their shirts. You can find out 6 possible reasons why these players may get booked when they take off their shirts.

This is usually done as a form of respect for their former club, as the player may still be highly regarded by the fans in his former club.

As such, he does not want to harm his rapport with the fans. By putting his hands up, he is trying to tell the fans that scoring goals are part of the game.

He may even be somewhat ‘sorry’ for scoring the goal!

This is an unspoken rule, but not all players follow them

There is no hard and fast rule that all players cannot celebrate against their former club. Some players still decide to celebrate their goal like it’s a normal celebration.

Here are 2 examples:

#1 Danny Welbeck (vs Manchester United)

Danny Welbeck joined Arsenal in the 2014/15 season from Manchester United. When the teams met in the FA Cup, he scored the eventual winner of the match.

He celebrated his goal, instead of putting his hands up in respect for his former club.

#2 Robert Lewandowski (vs Borussia Dortmund)

Robert Lewandowski was playing superbly for Borussia Dortmund from 2012-2014. However, he angered fans by signing a pre-contract with Dortmund’s fiercest rivals, Bayern Munich.

Since then, he seems to score every time that Bayern plays against Dortmund!

As the seasons passed, he has continued to celebrate his goals usually, without putting up his hands.

A player may raise his hand to show his teammate with the ball that he is open

The last reason why a player may raise his hand is to alert his teammate that he is ‘open’. This means that the player has found space and is in a good position to receive the ball when the team is attacking.

When you have the ball at your feet, there are so many things that you’ll need to focus on. This includes:

  1. Controlling the ball
  2. Shielding the ball from your opponent
  3. Looking for passing or shooting opportunities
  4. Watching the runs of your players

There are so many things that you’ll need to do!

As such, your teammates can help you by raising their arms. This is a very obvious gesture that will capture your attention.

You can now know which of your teammates are in a better position to receive the ball. As such, you will be able to focus more on making sure that the ball reaches your teammate!


There are many situations in the game that may lead to a player raising their hands. Some of these may be trying to influence the referee’s decision. A player may also raise his hand as part of a set-piece routine or as a sign of respect for his former club.

Raising your hands can also be used as a form of communication, which you can find out more here.

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