As one of the most popular sports in the world, there is a good deal of terminology and jargon surrounding the sport of soccer. Read on to learn more about the terminology used by avid soccer fans and seasoned players.
Basic Soccer Terms
Soccer is a game played all around the world. What comes with its popularity are terms that are specific to the sport. We’ll start by learning about basic lingo used throughout the sport.
Pitch: Another word for the field a soccer game is being played on.
Goal (Score): When the ball is kicked into the net it is a goal, and it counts as one point.
Shot: Any attempt to kick the ball into the goal.
Pass A ball kicked from teammate to teammate.
Assist The pass that goes to the player that scores the goal.
Header: Hitting the ball with your head.
Save: The goalie blocks a shot.
Volley: When a player kicks the ball while it is in the air.
Trap: Stopping the ball with your body to control it.
Tackle A player’s attempt to steal the ball from the other team, oftentimes involving a slide.
Cross: A kick from the side of the field into the middle.
Punt: When the goalie dropkicks the ball.
Throw in: An overhead throw to resume play after the ball goes out of bounds on either sideline.
Free Kick: Anytime there is a foul, the team that was fouled gets to kick a stationary ball to resume play.
Corner Kick: If the defense touches the ball over the end line, the offensive team then gets to place the ball in the corner of the field and kick it toward the middle.
Goal Kick: If the offense touches the ball over the end line, the ball is placed at the corner of the six-yard box. The goalie can then kick the ball to resume play.
Goal (Net): Goal is also a term that refers to the net (which is where you try to score).
Goalie: A position in soccer with the job of guarding the goal. They are the only players who are allowed to use their hands.
Defender: A position that is the last line of defense in front of the goalie. Their job is to stop the other team’s forwards from scoring.
Midfielder: A position in between the defenders and forwards, they specialize in passing and moving the ball toward the goal, from the defensive half of the field to the offensive half.
Forward: Soccer’s attacking position, these players are the furthest up the field and are the ones scoring the most goals.
Rule and Technical Terms
Penalty Area: Made up of two boxes, the six and 18-yard boxes. The goalie may use his hands anywhere in the area.
Referee: The person in charge of enforcing the rules of a soccer game. There is a main referee and two assistant referees.
Handball: A violation whenever a non-goalie touches the ball with their hand or arm.
Penalty/Penalty Kick: If a foul occurs in the goalie box, it is called a penalty. One player from the team that was fouled gets to attempt a penalty kick. The ball is placed 12 yards away from the goal, and only the goalie is allowed to try and stop it.
Penalty Shootout: Following a tie, a penalty shootout occurs. It involves each team taking five penalty kicks to decide a winner.
Offside: A violation that occurs when an offensive player is positioned behind the last defender and receives a pass from a teammate in front of the defender, as shown below
Yellow Card: If an action is thought to be flagrant, the player is cautioned and given a yellow card.
Red Card: A card signifying ejection from the game; it is drawn either by one exceptionally bad action or by receiving two yellow cards. Players who are given a red card cannot be replaced by another player, leaving the team down a player. Depending on the league, players who get red cards also must sit out the following game.
Soccer Terms for Coaches
Now that we’ve gone over basic terms and lingo relating to the rules of soccer, here are terms that are useful for understanding the tactics in soccer.
Formation: The arrangement of all 11 soccer players on the field. Two examples are 4-4-2 (four defenders, four midfielders, and two forwards) and 4-3-3 (four defenders, three midfielders, and three forwards).
Advantage: The referee can choose to let play continue even when a foul has happened if, after the foul, the offensive team is still in a favorable position.
Wall: In an attempt to block a free kick, a team will set up a row of players 10 yards away from the kick.
Stoppage Time/Added Time: At the end of each half, the referee adds additional time to make up for time delays that took place.
Set Piece: A play designed for when there is a free kick or corner kick.
Professional Soccer Terms
Now that we have covered both the basics and tactical terminology, here is some of the language that is used in professional soccer.
Manager/Coach: The person in charge of a team, responsible for making substitutions and choosing a strategy.
Transfer: A trade of a player to another team in exchange for money.
Transfer Window: A period in which transfers from club to club are allowed.
Champions League: A tournament between the best club teams in Europe.
World Cup: The biggest soccer international tournament, it occurs every four years and is made up of 32 national teams that must qualify to participate.
Relegation: If a team finishes at the bottom of its league, it is demoted the following year to a lower league.
Promotion: If a team finishes at the top of its league, it will be promoted to the league above it, replacing the teams that were relegated.
Here are a few commonly used slang words within the soccer community.
Woodwork: The frame of a soccer goal, is made up of two posts and a crossbar.
Hat Trick: One player scores three goals in a single game.
Nutmeg: A player kicks the soccer ball through another player’s legs.
Bar Down: The soccer ball hits the underside of the crossbar but still goes into the goal.
Clean Sheet: A team does not allow a goal the entire game.
Own Goal: A player scores a goal in the net that they are defending.
Flop/Dive: A player fakes being fouled to get a free kick.
Sent Off: A player is “sent off” when they are given a red card, meaning they aren’t allowed back on the pitch for the rest of the match.
List of Basic Soccer Terms
- Goal (Score)
- Throw In
- Free Kick
- Corner Kick
- Goal Kick
- Goal (net)
List of Rules and Technical Terms
- Penalty Area
- Penalty/Penalty Kick
- Penalty Shootout
- Yellow Card
- Red Card
List of Soccer Terms for Coaches
- Stoppage Time
- Set Piece
List of Professional Soccer Terms
- Transfer Window
- Champions League
- World Cup
List of Soccer Lingo/Slang
- Hat Trick
- Bar Down
- Clean Sheet
- Own Goal
- Sent Off