Tips for Soccer Diving

Although diving in soccer is generally frowned upon, it is an ever-present aspect of the game that must be taken into consideration. Whether you elect to partake in diving is entirely up to you. However, it would be irresponsible to say that there are never advantageous moments to take a spill on the field.

Further, you must also be aware that even if you care about your reputation, the same may not be true of your opponent. As a result, you must familiarize yourself with all aspects of the dive: Both how to perform one, as well as how to defend against one.

When to Dive

Diving is a high risk maneuver if not performed believably. The referee will award a yellow card if he sees through your flop. Keeping this in mind, diving is only really necessary when the stakes are high.

If the score is 5-0 (regardless of which side you’re on), there is no point in diving. In this case, the result has most likely already been determined. Close games, where something is on the line are the moments when you should consider risking a dive.

Where to Dive

Although a player can conceivably dive anywhere on the field, the optimal place to sell your faux foul is in the opposing team’s penalty box. The reasons for this should be obvious: If your charade manages to fool the referee, your team will be awarded a penalty shot.

A penalty shot is as close to a surefire goal as there is in the game of soccer. Getting one is very often worth the risk. If you do engage in the act of diving, try to reserve it for when you’re in the opposing penalty box.

Selling the Dive

When you dive, it’s important to commit yourself to it. This doesn’t necessarily mean screaming in agony, or writhing in pain. It means acting appropriately with the severity of the foul. If someone only lightly clips your foot, you shouldn’t roll around on the ground grabbing your face in agony. This just doesn’t make any sense, considering the circumstances.

Similarly, if a player you’re defending dives, and the discrepancy between foul and injury is wholly apparent: Have your team captain approach the referee to alert him to the fact. He won’t take away the foul he has already mistakenly called on you. However, he might be more cautious and aware the next time the same opposing player fakes a foul on the pitch.

Dive Penalization

If the ref thinks you’re faking a foul, he can elect to give you a yellow card. This will give the opposing team a free kick. The same rule applies to the opposing team. Pretending to get fouled is generally not taken lightly by experienced referees. In extreme cases, additional punishment can be given after the match concludes. These punishments include suspensions (and monetary fines in the case of professional players) .

Avoiding Penalization

The easiest way to avoid being penalized for a dive is to not take part in it. Most players and coaches think that diving constitutes poor form. Try to avoid building a reputation as a player who frequently dives.

If you insist on taking dives, the best way to avoid being penalized is to pick your battles. Be selective when you dive. If you do it too frequently the referee will wise up.

Dive Targeting

Another aspect of the strategic dive is targeting players who already have a yellow card. It’s somewhat of an underhanded tactic, but if an opposing player gets sent off, your team will play the rest of the match with a distinct advantage. Keep a mental tally of which players on the other team already have a card. Remember these are who you should target if you do take a dive.

If you find yourself playing with a yellow card, it is advisable to avoid overly physical play or diving entirely, so as to avoid being sent off. Playing a man down puts tremendous strain on your teammates, and forces your manager to alter formations and tactics. You should avoid getting a red card at all costs.

Amazingly True Story

During a 2006 World Cup match between England and Portugal, Manchester United teammates Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo engaged in a shameless spat that has since become legend.

Rooney was sent off with a red card for a questionable foul on Ronaldo’s Portugal teammate Ricardo Carvahlo, but it was Ronaldo’s protestations to the referee that appeared to seal Rooney’s fate. Immediately after Rooney left the pitch the camera zoomed in on Ronaldo, who appeared to wink mischievously at his teammates.

The two have since patched over their relationship, but we may never know what truly happened on that infamous summer night in 2006.

Referee Targeting

In an ideal world, every match would be officiated by an exceptional referee who doesn’t make any mistakes. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case. From an early point in the match, you will be able to gauge how the referee is making calls. Some refs tend to dole out harsh punishments for mild offenses, while others prefer to let the match continue relatively foul-free.

Once you’ve figured out how the referee is calling the match, you can make an educated decision as to whether dives are appropriate. If the ref is calling a foul every time there’s physical contact, it’s a safe bet that you can dive away. However, if the ref is hesitant to make calls (even when harsh fouls occur) diving may be ill advised.

Defending Players who Dive

Players who you know dive can be some of the most frustrating to deal with. The trick is to not lose your cool. Make sure that you communicate to your captain that you are not committing fouls, and he will pass the information onto the referee. You should trust that the referee will come to his senses.

Avoid Contact with Goalkeepers

You are asking for trouble if you touch the goalkeeper. This is not to say that there aren’t instances where you can, but the referee will always look to defend the goalkeeper before a field player. This is because they are more vulnerable. It is advisable to avoid contact with the goalkeeper, because more often than not you will be on the wrong end of a yellow/red card.

Goalkeeper Dives

As a goalkeeper, you almost always know the moment when you’re beat. Defending your net at all costs should always come first. However, if you find that an opposing player has without a doubt bested you, it can’t hurt to take a spill and hope that the referee will be sympathetic to your cause. Remember that referees actively look to defend goalkeepers, so you have the law of probability on your side.

Master Diver

Whether you elect to take part in the practice of diving is entirely up to you. Even if you find the thought of diving abhorrent, the knowledge you’ve absorbed will help you deal with opponents who don’t share your moral sentiments.

Regardless of your choice, you are now familiar with all aspects of the dive, and how it can adversely affect a soccer match. Use this knowledge, but tread lightly and always be aware of your surroundings. Knowing is half the battle.

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