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Soccer Lingo And Terminology

Table of Contents

Soccer Terms For Kids

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 the basics of the lingo that is used.


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 in order to control it.

Tackle: A player's attempt to steal the ball from the other team.

Cross: A kick from the side of the field into the middle.

Punt: 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 an unmoving ball to resume play.

Corner kick: If the defense kicks the ball over the end line, the offensive team then gets to place the ball in the corner of the field and kick it towards the middle.

Goal kick: If the offense kicks 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.

Rules and Technicals

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 player 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: Attacking position, are the furthest up the field and are the ones scoring the most goals.

Penalty Area: Made up of two boxes, the six and 18-yard boxes. The goalie may use his hands anywhere in the area. Below is an image of it.

Soccer Penalty Box

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.

Yellow card: If an action is thought to be flagrant, the player is cautioned and given a yellow card.

Red card: Ejection from the game, it occurs either by one exceptionally bad action or receiving two yellow cards.

Soccer Terms for Coaches

After learning the basics, 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).

Offsides: A penalty that occurs when an offensive player is positioned behind the last defender, as shown below.

Advantage: The referee can choose to let play continue even if a foul has happened if after the foul the offensive team is still in a favorable position.

Wall: An attempt to block a free kick, a team will set up a row of a couple of players 10 yards away from the kick.

Stoppage time/Added Time: At the end of each half there is additional time added by the referee to make up for time delays that took place.

Set Piece: A play designed for when there is a free kick or corner kick.

Penalty shootout: Following a tie, a penalty shootout occurs. It involves each team taking five penalty kicks to decide a winner.

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, is 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 of time 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 tournament, it occurs every four years and is made up of 32 nations that must qualify.

Relegation: If a team finishes in the bottom three of its league, it is demoted the following year to a worse league.

Promotion: Contrary, if a team finishes in the top three of its league, it will be promoted to the league above it, replacing the three teams that were relegated.

Soccer Lingo/Slang

Finally, here are a few slang words used by the soccer community.

Woodwork: The frame of a soccer goal, it is made up of two posts and a crossbar.

Hattrick: One player scores three goals in a single game.

Nutmeg: A player kicks the soccer ball through another player's legs. An example is shown below.

Bar down: The soccer ball hits the underside of the crossbar but still goes in 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 he is defending.

Flop/Dive: A player fakes being fouled in order to get a free kick.


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