The 6-yard box is a seemingly simple term, and holds little baring when it comes to the rules of Soccer.
Unlike the penalty box, where fouls see spot kicks awarded as recompense, and goalkeepers are able to pick up the ball, the 6-yard-box offers no additional benefit to a team when it comes to the laws of the game.
Simply put, the 6-yard box is a rectangular area inside the penalty box (18-yard box) located in front of the goal and extending just past the posts.
While it may seem like a simple component of the game, the 6-yard box plays a crucial role in shaping the dynamics of matches and influencing strategic decisions on the field.
Dimensions and Placement
The 6-yard box is a rectangular box that stretches 20 yards wide and 6 yards forward.
This translates to a 20.12 feet by 6.06 feet (6.1 meters by 1.83 meters) rectangular area.
The purpose of this zone is predominantly as a marking to help the goalkeeper position himself, and as an strategic marking for both defending and attacking teams.
The box is also where goalkeepers must take goal kicks from when the ball has gone out of play behind them, past the byline.
The primary function of the 6-yard box is to help delineate the space predominantly reserved for the goalkeeper.
This is so that defences and goalkeepers can better organise themselves.
However, defenders, and opposing attackers are free to enter this space, unless it is a goal kick or free-kick to be taken inside the box.
While this is it when it comes to the purpose, the importance of marking this zone out cannot be understated.
In a sport with so much to keep track of, whether attacking or defending, the 6-yard-box serves as an important point of reference for players.
From a defensive standpoint, it helps defenders stay clear of the goalkeeper. This is important as it’s vital players avoid getting in the way of the goalie when he comes out to claim the ball.
It also makes sure the keeper has vision of any potential shots fired at goal.
That’s not to say defenders don’t enter the 6-yard box. In fact its commonplace to have a defender stand on each goalpost for corner kicks to try and clear and shots on goal that the goalkeeper can’t get to away.
The zone also helps the keeper position himself. If you’ve ever played in goal without a 6 yard box, it can be surprisingly easy to lose sense of where your goalmouth is.
A keeper plays the whole game looking forward, facing one way, so without a box to gauge where he is in relation to his goal, he could find himself completely out of position without even knowing it.
Without the 6-yard-box, the only way for a keeper to know where he was would be by looking behind him.
This is simply not an option if the opponent has the ball in a dangerous area, and were this the norm would make a keeper’s already pressure filled life all the more difficult.
From an attacking perspective it signifies the danger area to look to put the ball near.
When aiming to play a crossed pass to an attacker, players often try to bend the ball so that it flashes just outside of the 6-yard box, while curving away from the keeper’s grasp for an attacker to score an easy tap-in.
It’s generally accepted that if an attacker has a clear chance on goal in or around the 6-yard-box, he should always score.
How Does It Differ From The Penalty Area?
The 6-yard box is encompassed by the larger 18-yard-box, commonly known as the penalty area.
While the penalty area encompasses a larger space within which many critical decisions are made, the 6-yard box acts as an extension dedicated to helping the goalkeeper stay well positioned.
At the same time, it acts as a sort of target for the attacking side, denoting the ‘danger area’ and an anchor point for defenders.
Together, these two boxes define what is the goalkeepers domain.
All in all, despite the 6-yard-box having little impact on the games laws, it is a integral to goalkeeper and defender positioning, while helping attackers pick out dangerous crosses.