What are the best tactics to use against a player who uses excessive pushing?

I play with a group of about 20 guys each week without a referee. Every now and then a player will come along who relies on pushing to get past opponents.

I try to play as reasonably as possible and the shoving is not bad enough that I want to push someone on their ass for doing it. So, what are the best legal tactics to prevent this kind of person from pushing past?

  • Should I call a foul and risk being ignored because the pushing is not extreme?
  • Should I push back?
  • Is there a way that I can position myself without using hands to counter this behaviour?
  • Something more aggressive like chopping the hands?
  • ...push harder back and play harder. There is nothing more fun than to get into harder games. Pushing is an extremely important tool, it is a part of the dominance in the game. If you run fast enough, you cannot even notice other ones pushing. If run too slow, everyone is pushing you...I think I have learnt one of the most important lectures from the most pushing opponents, you must learn to play hard when you need to.
    – user276
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 13:21
  • ...some picture would help, there are many different "pushings"...
    – user276
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 13:25
  • "chopping the hands" might be a bit extreme! ;o)
    – Ste
    Commented May 27, 2012 at 18:34

5 Answers 5


If it is a particular player and you see him coming at you, it is not illegal to position yourself to take the push. Lean into the push and/or go shoulder to shoulder with the player. If someone gets physical with you, you have to get physcial back. Obviously, I don't mean fighting and confronting the player, but you can't just give up the physical battle with someone. Outmuscling opponents is part of the game.

Alternativley, you could just flop and call for the foul. This is also a part of the game... although it is a strategy that is looked down upon, and is actually techinically illegal.

  • ..."technically illegal"? Wait a second, which law are you reading? If you keep your arms down, push hard back -- or if you keep your arms out to balance in fast speed, there is nothing wrong. Is there?
    – user276
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 13:18
  • 1
    I was saying that flopping (diving) was technically illegal. Nothing wrong with the other stuff you mentioned.
    – moesef
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 19:03

Are you playing with the same set of guys each week? If so, is it possible for someone (or you) to address the group before you start playing and generally talk about rules? You don't need to single out the culprit (unless you want to), just talk in a general manner.

If you want to go at the issue yourself without trying to cause conflict, sounds like you probably need to see the guy coming and just shield him off the ball with your body. If he does try to push you, it should be an obvious foul (which you should call).


Keep your arms out and fend him off. If he can't reach your body then he can't push you out of the way, so use your arm to keep your distance. As moesef's answer notes you do need to respond physically if other players are being physical.


As mentioned by others it is a part of the game. To understand it better you need to realize that football is a contact sport (not as much as rugby but still) and it's physically demanding. For that very reason players (especially in amateur divisions) will use physical intimidation as a way of winning the ball. Keep in mind that, going into a tackle if you are thinking that you might be hurt or whatever, you've pretty much already lost the ball. :)

That being said you do not need to start kicking people around, or strangle them by hanging on their shirts. In terms of pushing I believe you mean shoulder challenge whilst running. In that scenario it's very important to take stable steps, so that you have a solid balance when you take on the player. See to that the contact happens in your terms, as in be mentally and mechanically ready for the collision, and try to make sure that you go in with your hip or your shoulder. These are stronger joints, that way hopefully the momentum of the collision will not get your off your balance.

If you are referring to pushing while keeping/shielding the ball, then you might need to get a bit dirty. A lot of players will play rough in an attempt to intimidate opponents from reaching to the ball. Try to tilt his/her balance by pushing your opponent off balance. It helps trying to pay attention to how stable his/her stance is and how his/her weight is distributed. Trivial example; if the opponent has one leg on the ball and using his body to shield the ball, you obviously want him to move his pivot leg to block your movement. WHile that leg is in motion, the player is off balance and will most likely lose the ball if you push in a bit yourself.

These are my two cents, hope I didn't misunderstand your question. Good luck and keep in mind to have fun out there in the field. That's what matters really ;)


A simple personal example of what you can do: I often have the "dirty" job of stopping counterattacks by any means necessary. However I'm not a strong guy and I always rely on pushing or pulling. I've seen some players that didn't engaged with me for a long time, but they pulled back and let me lose my balance. It's a long shot to try that, but you can also get rid of that player in some situations.

Another way is to pull down his hand or shirt, again, with the purpose of making him lose the balance. This method works better, but it's not legal or nice to use it.

You should play hard, but avoid hitting players.

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