Soccer fields feature two distinct boxes in front of the net. The large box is the penalty area -- a critical area where the defending team can be penalized with a penalty kick for certain fouls. A foul in the small inner box -- the goal area -- won't affect penalties, but will change the way that play is restarted in the area.
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How It Measures Up
The goal area measures 6-by- 20 yards in front of the goal. It runs the length of the goal line, extending 6 yards to either side of the goal posts, as measured from the inside edge of the posts. From this point, the area extends 6 yards onto the field -- which is why it's also known as the 6-yard box. Those lines are connected at the end by a 20-yard line that completes the box.
What It's All About
The ball can be placed anywhere within the box for a goal kick. If the defenders get a free kick here, they can play the ball from anywhere within the box. That's an exception to the norm where a free kick is played from the spot where the infraction occurred. If the offensive team is awarded an indirect free kick in the goal area, it's taken on the 20-yard line of the area on the side opposite the goal. The kicker has to line up parallel from the spot of the foul.