Soccer Shootout Rules

Soccer Shootout

One of the most dramatic moments in many sports, especially soccer, is the penalty shootout. The shootout is used to determine the winner of the games that cannot end in a tie. Used as a last resort tie breaker, penalty shootouts intensify the game for the players and the crowd.

In this article, we're going to cover the basics of the shootout, when it takes place, and how a winner is decided.  

What is a shootout?

The shootout is used as a tie-breaker in important games and tournaments, such as the World Cup and Championship games in tournaments. Aside from the rules that determine when a shootout takes place, there are rules on how the shootout is conducted.

What are the rules of a shootout?

The shootout, also commonly referred to as penalties or penalty shootout, is the tie-breaker used by several competitions to determine the winner of a soccer match that cannot end in a tie. Normally, regular season games are permitted to end in a tie. However, championship games or elimination tournament games will require a shootout if the score is tied after regulation and extra time, as one team needs to move on or be crowned the champion.

How is the winner determined?

Players from each team take turns shooting from the penalty spot at the opposing team’s goalie. The shootout winner is determined by whoever scored the most goals after five rounds. The lineup for who shoots penalties is determined before the start of the shootout. Each player can only shoot one time unless every active player has already taken shot.

What if the score remains tied after the shootout?

What if the score remains tied after the shootout

If still tied after five shootout rounds, another round of shots is added until a team has more goals at the conclusion of a round. Each additional round must feature a new kick taker for each team until every player on each side has taken a kick. There is no limit to the number of kicks taken if a winner has yet to be decided, so this process can go on for a while in some rare instances.

How does a shootout work?

Here are the steps of a shootout:

  • Each team takes alternating turns sending a player to the penalty spot to shoot against the opposing goalkeeper.
  • No kicker can take another shot until every other player on his team has taken a shot.
  • All other players for a team are allowed to line up on the midfield line. No other players aside from the goalkeeper and the kicker are allowed in the half. The penalty kicker’s goalkeeper is often allowed to stand out of bounds along the touchlines.
  • After each attempt, the kicker returns to the midfield line and the goalkeepers swap out.
  • If, before the fifth round, the trailing team has been mathematically eliminated from winning in five rounds, the shootout will end early.

Here are all the terms we covered that are related to the soccer shootouts.


What was the longest soccer penalty shootout ever?

The longest shootout in the history of professional soccer took place in a game between KK Palace and F.C. Civics Windhoek, during the 2005 Namibian Cup Final. The shootout itself lasted 120 minutes, with a total of 48 kicks taken between the two teams. In the end, KK Palace took the victory with a shootout score of 17-16. 

What is the penalty spot in soccer shootouts?

The penalty spot is the designated location in which all players must take their penalty shots from during a shootout. It is located in the center of the penalty area, or the rectangular box extending 18 yards from the goaline. The penalty spot is located 12 yards back from the goaline, directly in front of the goal and equidistant from each side. The penalty spot will often be marked by a small white dash or dot on most fields. Players must place the ball directly on the penalty spot before taking each shot in a shootout.

Can goalies take shots during penalty shootouts in soccer?

The goalie can take one of the shots during penalty shootouts. In fact, goalies are actually required to take a shot during penalty shootouts before any player can take their second. This is because each player must take a shot before the cycle of kick takers can circle back to the start, and goalies are not exempt from this rule. Goalies rarely have to take penalty kicks because teams typically prefer their more skilled field players to take shots first, and most shootouts don’t last long enough for goalies to be required to shoot. However, there have been instances in the past where goalies have taken penalty shots or even scored.