When it comes to soccer, there are many different terms and phrases that people use to explain an aspect of the game. I’ve put together a definitive list of the most important terms to know the meaning of to really understand what people are talking about when they’re talking about soccer.
Whether you are new to the game, maybe a parent trying to understand the sport your child is playing, or even a long-term soccer player, this list of soccer vocabulary is for you.
All the terms and definitions are listed in alphabetical order to make it easier for you to find the term you’re looking for.
To go straight to the word or phrase you’re looking for, simply click below on the letter the word begins with. It will take you straight there.
A- Z List of Soccer Terminology
Advantage: A team is considered to have an advantage when they have possession of the ball and outnumber the opposition players near the opposing team’s goal.
Advantage Rule: Also known as “Advantage Clause” or “playing advantage,” the advantage rule is when the referee allows play to continue after a foul has been committed when they judge that it would be more advantageous to the team to continue playing rather than stop the game for the foul.
An example of this is when a player is fouled while passing the ball to another player who is now in the position to take a shot and potentially score a goal for their team. Rather than stopping the game for the foul, the referee allows the game to continue to see if they can take advantage of the opportunity. If not, the referee can always bring the play back to where the original foul took place.
Aggressive Soccer Receiving: Aggressive Soccer Receiving is the practice of being ready to receive a pass from another player, no matter how imperfectly it arrives with you. The receiving player will be intentionally aware and alert to the direction, speed, and position of the ball as it moves towards them and will correct their own body position to receive the ball effectively.
Air Ball: Also known as “Lofted Ball” or “Lifted Ball,” Airball is the time when the soccer ball is in the air from the time it last made contact with a player or the ground until it next makes contact with a player or the ground.
Angles: People in soccer most often talk about “angles” when they are referring to defenders or goalkeepers “closing, or narrowing an angle” to prevent another player from passing the ball into a space beyond the defender or goalkeeper. The angle is being reduced, so the opposition cannot play the ball into that space.
Angle of the pass: The angle of a pass is the direction the ball is kicked in for a pass
Angle of the run: The angle of the run is the direction a player runs in on the soccer field
APSL: The APSL stands for the American Professional Soccer League. In existence for 6 years between 1990 and 1996, the APSL was a professional men’s soccer league containing teams from the United States and Canada. In 1995, it changed its name to the A-League, and in 1996, it was absorbed by the United Soccer League organization.
Arc: The term arc is sometimes used when referring to the “Penalty Box Arc” on a soccer field. At the top of each penalty box, there is an arc to show where a player can stand during a penalty kick. May occasionally be used to refer to the arc by each corner flag on the field.
Assist: An assist is the last pass made to a player who scores a goal.
Assistant Referee: Also known as the “Linesman,” An assistant referee is a soccer game official based on the touchline of the field. They are responsible for assisting the referee in making decisions in line with the rules of the game. Two of their primary roles are judging when a player is offside and judging who the last player to touch the ball was before it went out of play.
Attack Staller: An attack staller is a player who deliberately slows down an attack.
Attacker: A term usually applied to the forward players on a soccer team positioned nearest to the opposition’s goal. An attacker is a player whose primary role is to create and take advantage of goal-scoring opportunities throughout a game.
Attacking Midfielder: Also known as the playmaker or the “number 10,” the attacking midfielder is a player who plays just behind the forward players but in front of the other midfield players. They have the responsibility of supporting the forwards by both creating goal-scoring opportunities and scoring goals themselves. (Check out this article I wrote about attacking midfielders here – The Number 10 in Soccer – Why it’s so Significant.)
Attacking Team: The attacking team is the team that is in possession of the ball and is moving towards the opposition’s goal.
Attack: Also known as “Offense,” an attack is when a team is in possession of the ball and is actively moving towards the opposition’s goal with the intention of scoring a goal.
Attacking Half: The attacking half is the half of the soccer field that the opposition team’s goal is in.
Attacking Plan: An attacking plan is a strategy the team has come up with to attempt to score goals and win the game
Attacking Third: The attacking third is the one-third of the soccer field that the opposition team’s goal is in. Although the soccer field isn’t divided into thirds, this term is often used when a team, or the ball, is closer to the opposition’s goal than just being in the opposition’s “half” would imply.
AYSO: AYSO stands for the American Youth Soccer Organization. An AYSO aims to develop and provide youth soccer programs throughout the United States.
Back Four: The back four in a game of soccer are the defenders on a team that is playing in a formation that includes 4 defenders. Some formations consist of 3 or 5 defenders. In these instances, they are referred to as the back 3 or 5.
Back Header: A back header is when a player uses his head to pass or move the ball backward.
Back Heel: A back heel is when a player kicks the ball with the heel of his or her foot. This can be used to pass the ball or even take a shot on goal.
Back Pass: A back pass is when a player deliberately passes the ball back to the goalkeeper. This is often done to restart a move, and the goalkeeper is not permitted to use their hands when receiving the ball from a back pass (For more info about this term, have a look at my article – A Back Pass in Soccer: A complete explanation)
Back Tackle: Also known as a “tackle from behind,” a back tackle is when a defender comes from behind an opponent who has the ball, and the defender brings their foot or leg around the player to make contact with the ball and tackle their opponent
Ball: The ball is the spherical object in a game of soccer that the players kick and try to get into the goal.
Ball Carrier: The ball carrier is the player who is currently in possession of and moving with the ball.
Ball watching: Ball watching happens when a player is more focused on watching the ball than maintaining awareness of everything else that is happening around them.
Banana Kick: A banana kick is a kick from a player where the ball moves in a curved trajectory, similar to the shape of a banana. This is used when a player wants to bend a ball around an obstacle, such as another player.
Bending the Ball: Bending the ball refers to the action of a player kicking the ball off-center to add spin to it during its flight. This motion will cause the ball’s trajectory to curve or bend during the time it’s in the air.
Bicycle Kick: A bicycle kick is a move where a player kicks the ball with their feet while the ball is above their head. They will leap into the air as if they were doing a backflip and, while their feet are above their head, kick the ball. This move gets its name from the fact that it can look like the player is cycling a bicycle upside down.
Blindside: The blindside is the opposite side of the player to where the player expected the ball to go.
Block tackle: A block tackle occurs when a player puts any part of themselves in front of the ball with the intention of blocking the ball from going any further. This tackling technique is often used as a last-ditch attempt to stop the ball.
Box: The box refers to the penalty area or 18-yard box that surrounds the goal at either end of the field. Within this box, the goalkeeper can handle the ball, goal kicks are taken, and penalty kicks are taken
Break: A break, also known as a “Fast Break,” “Counterattack,” or “breakaway,” is when one team suddenly takes possession of the ball from the opposing team and starts advancing at pace towards the opposite end of the field.
Calling: Calling refers to the calls and communication between soccer players throughout the game. They may call another player’s name to get their attention
Caution: A caution is another term used for when a player receives a yellow card. The yellow card indicates that the player has been cautioned once and will be sent from the field of play if they are cautioned again
Center Back: See “Central Defender”
Center Circle: The center circle is the large circle marked in the center of a soccer field. Kickoffs are taken from within this circle at the beginning of each half and after every goal. It also marks the center of the field.
Center Forward: A center forward is a player who is positioned at the front of a team and in the center of the width of the field. They are closest to the opponent’s goal, and their primary responsibility is to score goals for the team.
Center Midfielder: The center midfielder is positioned in the center, or heart, of the team. They have a wide range of responsibilities, including supporting the attack and defense.
Center Line: The center line, sometimes known as the “Midfield Line,” is the marked line that runs down the center of the field from one touchline to the other and divides the field in half.
Center Spot: The center spot is the center of the soccer field. Kickoffs are taken from this spot at the beginning of each half and after every goal.
Central Defender: A central defender is a player who is positioned just in front of the goalkeeper and in the middle of the line of defenders
Channels: In soccer, channels are the gaps between players that either a player can run into to find space, or the ball can be played into for a player to run onto it. There can be both vertical and horizontal channels depending on where the players are positioned on the field.
Chest Trap: The chest trap is a skill used by a player to cushion the ball when it arrives at chest height. As the ball makes contact with the chest, all the momentum is taken out of it, and the ball is now comfortably under the control of the player
Chip: A chip is a specific style of kick by a player where they sharply kick the ball from underneath, sending it up into the air. The intention with this kick is to quickly give height to the ball at the expense of power. A chip can be used as a pass or a shot.
Clear: When a team clears the ball, it means they kick the ball as far away from their own goal as possible.
Closing down: Closing down refers to the action of quickly advancing towards the ball or an opposing player with the intention of getting as close as possible to block any opportunity they have to shoot or pass the ball.
Commit: To commit to something means to go for it wholeheartedly. You may have heard this term used when a player goes full throttle into a tackle.
CONCACAF: CONCACAF stands for The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football. This is one of 6 FIFA governing bodies that contains 41 members from the nations and territories in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
Consolation Match: A consolation match or a third-place game is a game played between the two losing teams in the semi-finals of a tournament. The winner takes third place in the tournament.
Control of the ball: Control of the ball is when a player receives or moves with the ball in such a way that no one else can get it off of them. They are in control of it’s movement and direction.
Control of the play: When a team controls the play, it means they are orchestrating where the ball goes and how and when it goes there. In these situations, the opposing team cannot impose their control over the game.
Corner: A corner or corner kick is a set piece in the game of soccer when a player kicks the ball from the ground in the corner of the field. A corner is awarded when the ball goes over the goal line, and the defending team is the last to touch the ball.
(If you’re interested in corner kicks’ then have a look at this other article I wrote – Everything you need to know about a Corner Kick in Soccer.)
Corner Flags: The corner flags are the flags that mark the corners of the soccer field. It must measure at least 5 feet high (1.5 meters) and must not be removed for the duration of the game.
Corner Kick: See “Corner”
Counterattack: See “Break”
Cover: Cover is when one player will take the place of another player on their team who is out of position. They will see the gap left by the other player and cover their position until they can get back.
Creating Space: Creating space is the action of a player moving the ball or themselves away from any other player. This movement into space allows the player more time to decide and take action on their next play
Cross: A cross is an airborne pass by the attacking team from the sides of the field into the penalty box.
Cross-Inswinging: An inswinging cross is when the ball curls toward the opposing team’s goal as it travels through the air
Cross-Outswinging: An out swinging cross is when the ball curls away from the opposing team’s goal as it travels through the air
Cross to the far post: A cross to the far post is a cross that is aimed to arrive at the goal post furthest from the player who kicked the ball.
Cross to the near post: A cross to the near post is a cross that is aimed to arrive at the goalpost nearest to the player who kicked the ball.
Cushioning the Ball: Cushioning the ball is the action of receiving the ball in such a way that the power and momentum are taken out of the ball, and the ball comes to a standstill. The ball can be cushioned with any part of the body apart from the arms and hands.
Cut Down the Angle: See “Angle”
Danger Zone: The danger zone is considered to be the area immediately in front of the goal. This is the area where a goal is most likely to be scored.
Decoy run: See “Dummy Run”
Defend Deep: Defending deep refers to the situation where a team positions themselves to defend from close to their own goal rather than further up the field. This can be used as a tactic to draw the other team out from their own goal area and create space in front of their goal.
Defenders: Defenders are the players on the team who are positioned nearest to the goalkeeper and their own goal. They are responsible for disrupting the opposition’s attacks and keeping the ball away from their goal.
Defense: Defense in soccer is the action of working together as a team to keep the opposition and the ball away from your goal. This will decrease the chance of the other team scoring
Defensive Half: The defensive half is the half of the soccer field that the team’s own goal is in.
Defensive Third: The defensive third is the one-third of the soccer field that the team’s own goal is in. Although the soccer field isn’t divided into thirds, this term is often used when a team, or the ball, is closer to their own goal than just being in their own “half” would imply.
Deflection: A deflection is when the ball clips a player on the way past. The contact is not enough that the player can control the ball, but it is enough that it changes the direction of the flight of the ball.
Deliver the Ball: When a player delivers the ball, it means that they have played the ball to exactly the position they intended to.
Direct Free Kick: A direct free-kick is a set piece awarded to a team after a specific type of foul. It is called a direct free-kick, as a player can score a goal directly from a direct free-kick without the ball having to touch any other player first.
Diving Header: A diving header is when a player throws themselves forward with the intention of striking the ball with their head.
Drag the Ball: Dragging the ball is a skill used to pull the ball away from an opposition player. The player will place their foot on top of the ball and then pull or drag the ball back towards themselves.
Draw: A draw is when a soccer game ends in a tie. Both teams have the same amount of goals at the end of the game.
The Draw: The draw refers to the selection of teams for a tournament. The term derives from the fact that it was often a case of “drawing” names from a bowl or hat.
Dribbling: Dribbling is the act of running with the ball at your feet. For every few steps, the player will gently knock the ball a bit further in front of them. They don’t want to lose the ball or be tackled, so they only ever push it forward a small amount
Drop Ball: A drop ball is when the referee drops the ball between two players from opposing sides for them to contest possession of the ball. These take place following an incident where the game had to be stopped, but neither team was at fault. This could be when a referee stops a game for a head injury for instance
Drop Kick: A drop kick is a kick taken by a goalkeeper from their hands. The goalkeeper will drop the ball and then, as it falls, kick it into the other team’s path
Dummy Run: Also known as a “decoy run,” a dummy run is a run by a player without the ball. The aim is to draw defenders away from the player in possession of the ball by convincing the opposing team that the player with the ball may be about to pass the ball to the player who made the dummy run
Dummy: A dummy is when a player makes a movement in one direction as if to move that way but then moves in the other direction. The aim is to send the defender in the wrong direction
Early ball: Early ball is the action of passing the ball as soon as possible after receiving it. The intention with this is to exploit any available opportunities before they disappear
Eighteen-yard line: Also known as the “Penalty Box Line,” the 18-yard line is a marked line that runs parallel to the goal line but 18 yards out into the field. This line is part of the penalty box which surrounds the goal at each end of the field
Endline: More commonly referred to as the goal line. For more info, see “Goal-line”
European Cup: The European Cup is the premier soccer tournament played between club teams in Europe. The top teams from each European country enter, and the winner is considered to be the best club team on the continent
Fair Charging: Also known as “Shoulder Charging,” a form of tackling using the shoulder to lean into your opponent and force them away from the ball
Fake: Also known as a “feint,” a fake is when a player makes a move in one direction to lead an opponent to believe they are going that way but then suddenly moves in the opposite direction.
Fakeover: A fakeover, also known as a dummy, is when a player positions themselves as if they are about to kick a moving ball but instead lets the ball roll past them to another player on their team.
Far Forward: The far forward is the forward player who is farthest away from the ball at any given time.
Far Fullback: The far fullback is the fullback, or defender, farthest away from the ball at any given time.
Far Midfielder: The far midfielder is the midfielder farthest away from the ball at any given time.
Far Post: The far post is considered to be the goal post that is furthest from the player with the ball at any specific moment.
Far Stopper: The far stopper is the central defender farthest from the ball at any given time.
Fast Break: See “Break”
Feint: See “Fake”
FIFA: FIFA stands for the Federation Internationale de Football Association. FIFA is the governing body for world soccer.
First Attacker: The first attacker is the player who is in possession of the ball.
First Defender: A first defender is a player on the defending team who is closest to the ball at any given time.
First Touch: The first touch is the moment a player first comes into contact with the ball. The first touch is considered the most important touch as the player needs to bring the ball under control and also set themselves up for their next move or pass. (Have a look at my article – First touch in soccer: what it means – for more information about this topic)
Flank: The flank is considered to be the edges of a soccer field. Extending approximately 10-15 yards onto the field. This is where the wingers or fullbacks on a team are usually positioned
Flick Header: A flick header is a header where a player flicks their head at the moment of contact with the ball to immediately move the ball further along in the direction it’s already moving
Flick Pass: A flick pass is a pass made with a flick of the foot or another body part to keep the ball moving in a similar direction to its already moving
Flight: When the word flight is used in a soccer game, it is referring to the movement of the ball while it is in the air
Football: Football is the term used instead of the word soccer in many countries around the world. The United States, Canada, and Australia are the main countries that call the game soccer rather than football
Foot Trap: A foot trap is when a player puts their foot on top of a ball that is rolling along the ground. This stops the ball from moving and is trapped under their foot
Formation: Formation refers to how the 11 players on a soccer team are positioned on the field. Some common positions are 4-4-2, 3-5-2, and 5-3-2. For more info about this, check out my article – Soccer Formations: A Complete Guide.
Forwards: The forwards on a soccer team are those players who are positioned nearest the opponent’s goal and are expected to be the primary goalscorers on a team.
Forward Line: The forward line is the collective term used for the attacking players on a soccer team. The forward line can consist of between 1 – 5 players depending on how the team is set up.
Forward Pass: A forward pass takes place when the ball is passed by a player in the direction of the opponent’s goal.
Foul: In soccer, a foul is an action or incident that is considered illegal under the rules of the game.
Free Kick: A free kick is a set piece awarded to a team when they have been on the receiving end of a foul. They can kick a stationary ball, unchallenged, from the position where the foul took place.
Friendly: A friendly is a non-competitive soccer game. This game has no impact on a team’s league or tournament position and is often used by teams to experiment with new tactics, players, or formations. (Check out my article – What is a friendly in soccer? – to find out more.)
Front Header: A front header is when a player strikes the ball with their forehead or the front of their head
Front Tackle: A front tackle is a tackle made by a defending player from in front of the player in possession of the ball.
Fullbacks: The fullbacks on a soccer team are defenders who are positioned nearest the touchline. They are expected not just to defend but also move up and support the attack when appropriate
Funnel: The funnel is a tactic used to work effectively as a team. The offense is at the top or widest part of the funnel. They will be looking to spread the play as wide as possible and draw the defenders apart to create space between them. At the base of the funnel or the narrowest part, the team will be aiming to stay compact to stifle the opposition’s attack and prevent them from having room to effectively move the ball
Futsal: a version of soccer played indoors on a hard surface with 5 players on each team
Give and Go: A give and go, also known as a “1-2,” is a move where a player passes the ball to another player and then immediately moves forward. At this point, the player receiving the ball takes one, sometimes two touches and passes the ball back to the original player, who is now in a new position.
Goal: On a soccer field, the goal is the structure placed on the goal line at each end of the field. It consists of two upright goalposts, a crossbar, and a net. A goal is scored when the ball crosses the goal line between the goalposts and beneath the crossbar. (This article I wrote will give you all the information you need about “a goal” in soccer.)
Goal Area: The goal area, also known as the 6-yard box, is a rectangular box around the goal that extends 6 yards onto the field. A goal kick must be taken within this box.
Goal Kick: A goal kick is a kick taken from the 6-yard box after the ball has gone over the goal line and was last touched by a member of the attacking team. It is often the goalkeeper who will take this kick, but any player on the team is permitted to take it
Goal Line: The goal line is the line at each end of the field, which marks the end of the field of play. Each goal is situated on the goal line
Goal Mouth: The goalmouth is considered to be the area of the field immediately in front of the goal.
Goal Posts: Goal posts are upright posts that form part of a soccer goal
Goal Side – The term goal side refers to the space on the field that is between an object, such as a player or the ball, and the goal being defended. You may hear someone say, “The team should keep 3 defenders on the goal side of the ball at all times.”
Goalie: See “Goalkeeper”
Goalkeeper: The goalkeeper is the player on a soccer field positioned immediately in front of the goal a team is defending. This is the only required soccer position in the rules of the game. The goalkeeper is also the only player who is permitted to use their hands as long as they are within the penalty box
Hacking: Hacking is when a player takes a swing at another player’s legs rather than the ball. It is an illegal move.
Halfback: A halfback is a traditional name for a midfielder. They are positioned on the soccer field between the forwards and defenders
Half Volley: A half volley is a technique of kicking the ball as the ball rises after a bounce. A player will start to swing their leg to kick the ball as the ball hits the ground, timing the swing to make contact with the ball as it rises again.
Halves: Halves, also known as “Periods,” are the two 45-minute segments a soccer game is divided into. Each 45-minute segment is half of the game
Handball: A handball is an incident where the soccer ball comes into contact with a player’s hand. This is an offense according to the rules of the game, and the opposing team will be rewarded with a free-kick. The only player on the field that can handle the ball is the goalkeeper
Hat Trick: A hat trick is when a single player scores 3 goals in a game. They have scored a hat trick. (My article – What is a Hat-Trick in Soccer – will give you much more information about a hat-trick.)
Header: A header is when a player deliberately strikes the ball with their head to pass the ball or take a shot at goal
Heading: See “Header”
High press: The high press refers to a tactical decision by a team to constantly put the opposing team under pressure anytime they have the ball by getting close to them as quickly as possible. The idea of this is to pressure them into making mistakes due to having to move and think fast.
Holding the Line: Holding the line refers to the tactic of keeping all the defenders in a strict line across the field. The aim is to prevent any attacking players from moving past them as they may be considered to be offside
Hollywood ball: Hollywood ball refers to any occasion where a player tries to make an unrealistic or highly ambitious pass to another player. It is the sort of thing you are more likely to see in a movie.
Hook: A hook is a skill that involves a player “hooking” their foot around the ball to change direction while they are dribbling with the ball
Hopped Pass: A hopped pass is a chip or scoop of the ball where the ball goes high enough that the opposing play is unable to get the ball
IFAB: IFAB stands for the International Football Association Board. The is a governing body that set and maintains the official laws of the game of soccer
Indirect free kick: An indirect free-kick is a set-piece awarded to a team after a foul where a player cannot score a goal directly from the free-kick. The ball must first touch another player before going in the goal for a goal to be awarded.
Injury time: Injury time, also known as “stoppage time” is time added on at the end of a half of soccer to replace the time lost for injuries during a game.
Instep: The instep refers to the upper surface of the foot, usually where the laces of the shoe are
Instep Drive: An Instep drive is a powerful kick taken with the instep of the foot.
Inswinger: An inswinger refers to the flight of the ball that is curving toward its intended target
Jockeying: Jockeying refers to the technique of holding up an opposing player by standing in their way no matter where they move. The aim is to slow down the play and keep them from passing the ball
Juggle: To juggle a soccer ball means to keep the soccer ball off the ground by using any part of your body except your hands and arms.
Keeper: See “Goalkeeper”.
Kick-off: A kick-off is the first kick of the game. It takes place from the center spot of the field at the beginning of each half and after every goal
Killer Ball: See “Killer pass”
Kill the Ball: To kill the ball means to take any power and momentum out of a soccer ball and keep it stationary.
Killer pass: A killer pass is considered to be a pass that takes great skill and vision to achieve but is completed perfectly. It is used as a compliment
Last Defender: The last defender refers to the last player on the team between the opposition’s players and the goalkeeper.
Late Tackle: A late tackle is a mistimed tackle by a player who comes in too late and makes contact with the opposing player rather than the ball
Laws of the Game: The laws of the game are the official rules of soccer as determined by the International Football Association Board.
LDMF: LDMF refers to the Left Defensive Midfielder.
Lead Pass: A lead pass is a pass made to intentionally arrive ahead of the intended receiver
Linesmen: See “Assistant Referee”
Linkmen: Linkmen is another name for midfielders, as a midfielder’s job is to link defense with the attack
Loft: See “Lofted pass”
Lofted Pass: Also known as a “Lob,” a loft is a pass that lifts the ball into the air and over any opposing players
Long Ball: A long ball refers to a pass made over a long distance during a soccer game
Long Corner: A long corner refers to a corner kick that arrives a significant distance from where it came from
Man-to-Man Marking: Man-to-man marking is a tactic used by teams where each player has a specific player on the opposing team that they are following with the intention of stopping them from getting the ball or advancing with the ball
Marking: Marking is the practice of staying near a specific player on the field with the intention of stopping them from getting or advancing with the ball
Match: A match is another term used to mean a soccer game.
Midfield: The midfield is the middle area of the soccer field.
Midfield Anchor: The midfield anchor is also known as the defensive midfielder. They are positioned just in front of the defense, and they are responsible for doing all they can to break up the opposition’s play and stop the ball from getting past them
Midfielder: A Midfielder is a soccer player whose position is in the middle of the field between the forwards and the defenders. In the past, these players were known as halfbacks
(If you’re interested, check out this other article I wrote about midfielders – The 11 Essential Roles of a Midfielder in Soccer.)
Midfield Line: See “Center Line”
MLS: MLS stands for Major League Soccer. Begun in 1995, the MLS is the premier soccer league in the United States
Movement Off the Ball: Movement off the ball refers to where and how players are moving around the soccer field when they are not in possession of the ball. This can directly affect both offense and defense
Narrowing the angle: Narrowing the angle refers to the technique of a player positioning themselves in such a manner that it reduces the angle that an opposing player can pass or shoot with the ball
NASL: NASL stands for the North American Soccer League. Existing from 1967-1985, the NASL was the major United States soccer league at that time. At its peak, it was extremely popular, with many international soccer players taking part
Near Post: Near post refers to the goal post nearest the ball at any given time
Near Stopper: Near stopper refers to the defender who is nearest the ball at any given time
Net: The net refers to the corded material attached to each goal frame on a soccer field. The purpose of the net is to stop the ball when it goes into the goal.
Nutmeg: A nutmeg is a skill used in soccer where one player deliberately plays the ball between another player’s legs
Obstruction: Obstruction is the practice of blocking another player with your body. This act is often penalized with an indirect free kick being awarded to the opposition.
Offense: Offense is used to refer to either the forward or attacking players, or sometimes the attacking movement of the team
Offensive player: An offensive player refers to any player on a team who is moving toward the opposition’s goal. It is also used to refer to just the forwards of the team
Off His Line: Off his line is a phrase used to describe the position of a goalkeeper when they are standing away from the goal line they are defending
Offside: A player is offside if they are closer to the opponent’s goal line than both the ball and the second-to-last opponent. This rule only applies when a player is in the attacking half of the field
Offside Line: The offside line is an imaginary line across the width of the soccer field, which marks the point where a player would be offside if they crossed the line
Offside Offense: Also known as an “Offside Infraction,” the offside offense is an offense for receiving the ball in an offside position or passing the ball to a player in an offside position
Offside Position: See “Offside”
Offside Trap: The offside trap is a technique used by teams where they will suddenly, and as a group, move away from their own goal. The intention is to leave the opposition attackers in a position where they would be offside if another player passed to them.
Off the ball: Off the ball is a term that refers to anything happening on the soccer field that is not directly related to what is happening with the soccer ball
Off the Play: Off the play is a phrase that refers to any players that aren’t immediately involved in the current play
On Ball: On ball is a phrase used to refer to a player who has the ball in their possession
On His Line: On his line refers to the times during a game when the goalkeeper is standing on the goal line they are defending
One-Touch: See “One-touch pass”
One-Touch Pass: A one-touch pass is a pass where a player passes the ball to another player with their first touch of the ball
One-Touch Soccer: One-touch soccer refers to a style of play where the player moves the ball around the field quickly by only taking one touch of the ball at a time
One-Two: See “Give and Go”
Open Space: Open space is the space on a soccer field where there are no players present
Outlet Pass: An outlet pass is a pass made by a defending team to get the ball as far away from their own goal as possible
Out of Play: Out of play refers to the ball being outside of the boundaries of the soccer field
Out Swinger: an outswinger is a kick that, while traveling through the air, curves away from its intended target
Overlap: An overlap is a technique used by players to create a passing opportunity. A player will run past another player who has the ball, giving the player in possession of the ball an opportunity to pass to the player now in front of them
Overtime: Also known as “Extra time,” overtime is an extra period of play added on to a game when the game has ended in a tie. The intention of adding on this time is to give more time for a winner of the game to be found
Pace: Pace refers to the speed that a player or the ball is moving at
Pass: A pass is a technique of moving the ball from one player to another. A pass can be made with any part of the body except the hands or the arms
Pass and move: Pass and move is a tactic where each player moves into space after each pass they make. A player will always be moving and always in space, ready to receive another pass
Penalty: See “Penalty Kick”
Penalty Arc: The penalty arc is the marked arc on top of the penalty area at either end of a soccer field. The penalty arc marks a 10-yard radius from the penalty spot
Penalty area: Also known as the “18-Yard Box” or “the Box,” the penalty area is the rectangle box at either end of the soccer field that extends 18 yards into the field. Within this area, the goalkeeper can handle the ball.
Penalty Kick: Also known as a “Spot Kick,” a penalty kick is a direct free kick taken by a player 12 yards from the goal. When the player takes the penalty kick, the only thing between the ball and the goal is the opposing team’s goalkeeper
Penalty Shot: See “Penalty Kick”
Penalty Spot: The penalty spot is a spot marked on the soccer field that is 12 yards away from the goal line. Penalty kicks are taken from this spot
Period: A period refers to a timed segment of a soccer game. A soccer game is divided into two 45-minute segments or periods
Pinnie: A pinnie is a training vest that is used by soccer players in training sessions
Pitch: The pitch is an alternative word used to refer to the soccer field. (This article I wrote gives more information about what a “pitch” is in soccer.)
Play: A play is a pre-planned move used by a team to gain an advantage during a game
Playing Advantage: See “Advantage Rule”
Playmaker: The playmaker is the player on the team who is primarily responsible for creating goal-scoring opportunities for the team. They are often positioned directly behind the forwards and are usually the most creative player on the team
(If you’re interested in the playmaker, then check out this other article I wrote – The Number 10 in Soccer – Why it’s so Significant. )
Playoff: A playoff is a series of games that take place at the end of a soccer season to determine which team is the overall winner of the league
Play On: A referee may be heard or seen to indicate “play on” when there has been the suggestion that a foul has been committed, but the referee has judged that the incident was legal and, therefore, the game can continue
Play on the break: See “Break”
Pop-It: Pop-it refers to the skill of passing the ball to yourself
Possession: A team or player is considered to be in possession of the ball when they have the ball in their control
Post: See “Goalposts”.
Pressure training: Pressure training is a style of training that involves repeating the same drill multiple times in a short period of time
Professional foul: Also known as a “Tactical Foul,” a professional foul is an offense where a player deliberately fouls an opposing player to deny them taking advantage of a goal-scoring opportunity. This is a risky play, as a player may receive a red card for this offense
Push Pass: A push pass is a pass of the ball using the inside of the foot, making it look as though the player is pushing the ball
Qualifying games: Qualifying games refer to the games played before a tournament to decide which teams progress to take part in the tournament
Receiver: The receiver is the player who receives a pass from another player on their team
Red Card: A red card is a card held up by the referee to indicate that a player must leave the field of play immediately. To receive a red card, a player must have committed a serious foul or have been cautioned twice during the game.
Referee: The referee is the official who is in charge of the soccer game.
Regulation Game: A regulation game refers to any soccer game that complies with the official regulations that are set for a soccer game to follow
Rounds: Rounds refer to the different stages of a tournament where the games decide which teams progress to the next round
Running with the ball: Running with the ball refers to a player who is in possession of the ball running on the field while kicking the ball in front of them
Save: A save is when a goalkeeper uses their body to stop the ball from going into the goal
Scorebox: Also known as the “Danger Zone,” The scorebox refers to the area around the goal where goals are often scored from
Scouts: Scouts are volunteers or staff of a soccer club who watch and research players from other teams to decide if their club should attempt to recruit them
Send Off: “Send off” is a phrase that refers to the action of a player being sent from the field of play by the referee
Serious Foul Play: Serious foul play is when a player commits a foul that is serious or reckless enough for the referee to decide to send the player off and show them a red card
Service: Service is often used in soccer to describe the quality of passes the forward players are receiving. They may have good or bad service during a game
Set play: A set play is a pre-planned play by a team that is used to restart a game
Shadow Marking: Shadow marking is when a player stays close to a specific player from the opposing team. They are considered to be acting like their shadow
Shadow play: Shadow play is used in training sessions. It involves running through plays without the opposition being present
Shepherding: See “Jockeying”
Shielding: Also known as “Screening,” shielding is the technique of positioning your body between the opposition player and the ball to prevent the opposing player from tackling you
Shot: A shot is a kick of the ball towards the goal with the aim of scoring a goal
Shoulder charge: See “Fair charging”
Shut out: Also known as a “clean sheet,” a shut out is when the goalkeeper has prevented any goals from being scored in their goal throughout the duration of the entire game.
Sideline: Also known as the “Touchline,” the sideline is the line that runs down the length of the field on either side of the field
Side Tackle: A side tackle is when a player comes in from the side of another player and takes the ball off them
Single Elimination: Single elimination is a phrase used to describe a game where the losing team will be eliminated from the tournament.
Six-yard box: Also known as the “Goal Area” or “Goal Box,” the six-yard box is a rectangular box around the goal that extends 6 yards into the soccer field. Goal kicks are taken from within this box
Sliding tackle: A sliding tackle is a tackle made by a player while they are sliding feet first along the ground
Small-Sided Game: A small-sided game is a soccer game where each side fields less than 11 players on each team. This is more commonly seen in youth or recreational leagues
Soft Pass: A soft pass is a pass that is made with only a small amount of force or power
Square ball: See “Square pass”
Square pass: Also known as a “Flat Pass,” a square pass is a pass played across the field rather than forward or backward
Starters: The starters are the players who start the game for each team
Steal: A steal is when one player tackles the ball from another player
Stoppage Time: See “Injury Time”
Stopper: A stopper is a player who has the job of stopping attacks from the opposing team during a soccer game
Strength on Ball: Strength on the ball is a term used to describe a player whom it is very hard to tackle
Stretched Defense: Stretched defense is a phrase used to describe a defense whose players are further apart from each other than they want to be. The opposition has been effective in stretching the defense
Stretching the play: Stretching the play refers to the strategy of deliberately positioning the team’s players far apart in an attempt to draw out the opposition players and create space in the middle of the field
Striker: A striker is a forward or attacking player positioned near the opponent’s goal. They have the primary responsibility of scoring goals for the team
Substitution: A substitution is when one player in the team is replaced with another player who hasn’t yet had any involvement in the game
(You can find out more about substitutions by reading this other article I wrote – Why does Soccer Limit Subs? )
Sudden Death: Sudden death refers to a period of overtime, or extra time, where the next goal scored determines the winner of the game and also ends the game
Support play: Support play refers to what the rest of the team is doing while another player is in possession of the ball
Sweeper: A sweeper is a defender who will be positioned just behind the defense but in front of the goalkeeper
Switching play: Switching play is when a player passes the ball to the opposite side of the field to allow the players on that side of the field to get involved in the game
Tackle: A tackle is when one player takes the ball away from another player
Tackling: See “Tackle”
Tactical Foul: See “Professional foul”
Takeover: A takeover describes a tactic where one player in possession of the ball suddenly leaves the ball to allow another player to take it and move on
Target man: See “Target player”
Target Player: A target player is a player who is positioned high up the field, and the other members of the team try to get the ball as often as possible. The target player is responsible for holding the ball up and then passing it effectively to another player
Thigh Trap: A thigh trap is when a player brings the ball under control on their thigh
Through Ball: See “Through Pass”
Through Pass: A through pass is a pass deliberately played in front of a player to allow them to run on to it in open space
Throw-In: A throw-in is when the ball has gone out of play on the sideline, and to restart play, one player will throw the ball back onto the field. This player will be on the opposite team to the player who last touched the ball before it went off the field.
Tie game: A tie game is when a game ends and both teams have scored no goals or the same amount of goals
Toe Kick: “See Toe poke”
Toe Poke: A toe poke is when a player kicks the ball with their toes rather than another part of the foot
Touch Line: Also known as the “sideline,” the touchline is the line that runs down the length of the field on either side of the field
Track: The word track is used in soccer to refer to the tactic of following an opposition player
Trap: See “Trapping the ball”
Trapping the Ball: See “Foot trap”
Trials: “Trials” is a term used to describe the process of assessing whether a player is good enough to join a team
Taking a player on: “Taking a player on” is a phrase used when a player deliberately runs with the ball at a player on the opposing team with the intention and belief that they can get past that player without being tackled
Turning an opponent: Turning an opponent refers to a player who gets away from an opponent through various body movements that allow the player to turn into space
Turnover: Turnover is a word used to describe a situation where the ball has changed possession from one team to another
Two-way midfielder: See “Playmaker”
Under the Ball: Under the ball is a phrase used to describe when a player is below the ball
Un-sportsmanlike Behavior: Unsportsmanlike behavior is any behavior by a player that is not considered to be within the spirit of the game
USSF: USSF stands for the United States Soccer Federation. The USSF was founded in 1913 and is the governing body for soccer in the United States
USYSA: USYSA stands for the United States Youth Soccer Association USYSA is the governing body for youth soccer in the United States
Vision: Vision refers to a player’s ability to see a pass or a shot before they or another player actually takes it
Volley: A volley is the skill of kicking the ball while it is in the air. To volley effectively a player’s timing must be perfect
Wall: A wall refers to a line of players who position themselves in front of the goal they are defending at a free-kick
Wall pass: See “Give and Go”
Weight of the pass: The weight of the pass refers to how much power a pass is made with, which affects how fast the ball moves and how far it will travel
Wide players: See “Wingers”
Width-in-Attack: Width-in-attack refers to the tactic of creating space between the attacking players.
Width-in-Defense: Width-in-defense refers to the tactic of creating space between the defensive players.
Wingers: Wingers are the players on a team who are positioned on the edges of the field near the touchline. They are expected to assist in attack and provide assists for goal-scoring opportunities
Win-draw-loss record: The win-draw-loss record refers to the results of a team’s previous games
Win the Ball: When a player wins the ball, it means they have taken possession of the ball from the opposition.
Work rate: The work rate refers to how much effort a player puts into playing the game
World Cup: The World Cup is the biggest soccer tournament in the world. It takes place every four years and involves players from all around the world
Yellow Card: A yellow card is held up by the referee when a player has committed a foul that the referee judges is serious enough that the player should be cautioned. If a player receives 2 yellow cards in a single game, then they must leave the field of play
Zone Defense: Zone defense is a defensive strategy where players defend a specific zone of the field rather than individual players