Soccer Terms

 

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Tired of feeling inadequate in your cheering or coaching from the stands?

Print our handy list of Soccer Terms & Coaching Instructions and you'll sound like you grew up with the game. Please feel free shout these terms in a loud voice with the confidence that at least half of the spectators around you will not know if the term is appropriate for the situation, but will marvel at your soccer vocabulary. Suggestions to add to or to correct my list are welcome. Have fun!

P.S. In most cases, it is wise not to shout these instructions when standing behind your child's coach.

Coaching Instructions you'll hear players or coaches (or some fans) use.

Away Generally called by the keeper to tell defenders to clear the ball away from the goal in any direction (except towards the goal). Panic in voice is normal.
Carry A call to an offensive player (with the ball) to dribble the ball up the field in open space. A defensive player is not nearby.
Challenge A call to defender to apply pressure or to attack an offensive player (with the ball) in order to steal the ball.
Check To (the ball) Move towards the ball.
Drop A call to play the ball towards the offensive player's own goal in order to take the ball out of defensive pressure.
Eighteen A call from an attacker to a teammate to pass the ball to the 18 yard box (also called penalty box) for the attacker to run to.
Find Your Marks

A call for defenders to chose a man to defend. See Mark A Man.

Fifty-fifty Ball A loose ball that two players have equal access to, usually one in the air that has to be won by a header. Players that can consistently win a fifty-fifty ball are highly valued by their coaches (and tend to have headaches or wear out shin guards).
Follow (the shot)

A call for attackers to run towards the keeper in order to kick a ball that the keeper may block (instead of catch) or deflect.

Jockey

A call for defenders to position themselves in a defensive position against an attacker so the attackers progress is slowed, but so that the defender is not beaten. This process allows other defenders to recover.

Man-On or Man

A call to an offensive player (with ball) telling him that a defensive player is approaching.

Mark A Man

A call for defenders to chose a man to defend. See Find Your Marks.

No Turn

A call to a defensive player to position himself in a way so as not to allow the offensive player (with ball) to face the defensive player, but rather for the offensive player to be forced to play with his back to the defensive player.

Pressure

A call to defender to apply challenge or to attack an offensive player (with the ball) in order to steal the ball.
Push up

A call to defensive players to move up the field towards the mid line. Sometimes this forces the opponent’s forward to move toward the mid line so as not to be offside. Also used to describe coaches’ favorite encouragement technique.

Recover

A call to defenders to regain their position between the attacker (with or without the ball) and the goal they are defending.  This is frequently called when defenders are pushed up and the opponents mount a quick counter attack.

Shape or Keep Your Shape The call to defensive players to quickly reform their positions on the field into a balanced defensive posture capable of turning away an attack at either side of the field or up the middle. The call can be mistaken for "Sheep" when called by a British coach.
Step or Step Up

A call to defenders to move quickly away from their own goal towards the mid line in order move the offensive players away from the goal (otherwise the offensive players would be in an offside position). Similar to push up.

Switch

A call for the offensive to play the ball to the opposite side of the field.  For example: when ball is moved up left side of field, a call to switch would mean the ball would be played either directly or by multiple players to the right side of the field. When played quickly, switching the ball can take advantage of a defense that has lost its shape.

Support          

A call to players on the offensive team without the ball to give the player with the ball options to pass the ball out of pressure, usually when attacking or shielding.

Time or You Got Time

A call to an offensive player letting him know that no defender is nearby.         

Turn

A call to an offensive player (with his back to the defense) letting him know that he can turn and face the defense without a defender nearby.

Unlucky® A word of support when a shot on goal goes astray or when a bad pass is made. Trademark of this term has been secured by one particular soccer dad.
Wall

A call for defenders to make a wall in front of the goal. This is called when a free kick is to be made.

Watch the Runner A call to a defender to find and defend against a fast moving attacker (without the ball).

You Got A Drop

See drop.
You Got Me   

A call from an offensive player to a teammate indicating that he is open to receive a pass.

Soccer Terms and rules

A.R. Abbreviation for Assistant Referee. One AR typically is positioned on one side of the field at one end of the field and carries a flag to signal fouls, out-of-bounds, substitutions, etc. The other AR is positioned on the opposite sided of the field at the other end.
Assist The pass that leads to the goal. Many say it's as important as the
goal itself, some say it's even more important.
Back Pass A pass that is hit backwards (away from the goal you are attacking)
Booked

To receive a yellow card or red card from the official.

Card (Yellow/Red)

Yellow card is for a flagrant penalty (taunting, cursing, tackling from behind, etc). Red card is for fighting, intentionally trying to do harm, etc. A player receiving a red card is ejected from the game and his team must play a man down (no replacement player for ejected player). In some instances, the ejected player is ineligible for the next game. A player receiving a second yellow card (referred to as a soft red in high school) is also ejected without replacement (except in high school rules, in which case a substitution is allowed).

Center Referee or Center The Center Referee is the boss on the field. He or she has the main responsibility for calling the game. The Center is typically supported by two Assistant Referees positioned at opposite side of the field.
Chip Shot

A high looping shot on goal intended to go over the keeper’s head into the goal.

Creating Space This is the act of leaving an area of the field in order to draw the defense away from that area so that you (or one of your teammates can use the space to your advantage in the future.
Cross or Crossing Pass

A pass made from a player on one side of the field towards the middle of the field many times towards the goal.

Defensive Third The third of the field closest to the goal you are defending.
Dive or Take a Dive When an attacker pretends to have been fouled by falling to the ground. Most often done inside the 18 or penalty box. Sometimes the Referee will mistakenly award a PK. However, on occasion the Referee will book the diver (yellow card) for poor sportsmanship.
Dive In

A poorly executed challenge by a defensive player in an area of the field or in a defensive situation where jockeying would have been a better play. May be accentuated with references to "Swan" or "One-and-a-half" and other diving term.

Far Post This is the goal post  (the post that makes up the side of the goal) that is furthest from the ball at the given time.
Flat Back Four A type of zonal defending that involves 4 defenders each responsible for an area across the back of the defense. The reason it's called flat is that they players usually don't have as much deep support as they would with a sweeper behind them.
Formations Whenever you hear about formations, you hear some weird numbers like 4-4-2 or 3-4-3 or something like that. To explain it simply, the numbers work from the back forward and the keeper is never counted.  So, a 4-4-2 is a formation with 4 backs, 4 midfielders, and two forwards along with one keeper.
Forwards The players who start off closest to the goal the team is attacking.  First and foremost, the forwards are responsible for scoring goals or at least creating scoring opportunities.
Header

The art of striking the ball with one’s forehead (and living to tell about it).

Make a Run

An offensive player runs (without the ball) to an open position to receive the ball.

Midfielders The line up between the forwards and the defenders, and are the ones who link the two together. They have equal responsibility both offensively and defensively.
Near Post This is the goal post (the post that makes up the side of the goal) that is nearest to the ball at the given time
No Man's Land The area of the field in front of the goal where a goal keeper is not close enough to the attacker to block a shot and too far away from the goal to make a save. Typically a chip shot is used to clear the ball over the keeper and into the goal.

Nutmeg

When a ball is kicked between a defender’s legs. Also called meg. Generally a humiliating occurrence for a defender for which they are teased mercilessly.
Offside

A difficult principle for parents to understand especially when their child has been called for it. Referees do not call this infraction consistently and may argue amongst themselves (in private, of course) as to when it should be called. Very simply, it is a foul when an offensive player (without the ball) is positioned closer to the opposing goal than any two defenders, including the keeper (usually the keeper is one of the defenders), before and when the ball is played (could be kicked, headed, chested, thighed, or any other way legally played) past the second to last defender. A player may move into an offside position after the ball has been played, no longer being illegally positioned. The player does not need to receive the ball before moving into the offside position, but cannot move behind the defenders until the ball is played.

 

Offside does not apply on a corner kick or a throw in. A player cannot be offside in her defensive half of the field.

 

Alternate explanation here. Excellent analogy.

Overlapping Run This is a run where Player A runs from behind player B and goes past her (overlaps) to either receive the ball or to create space for Player B.
Penalty Box Also known as the 18 yard box. This is the area where the keeper is allowed to use her hands. Also, any foul in this box that would result in a direct kick results in a penalty kick.
Pitch

The British term for the soccer field.

Post

Referring to the goal post. “Make a near-post run.” See also Make a run. Also used by the keeper to command players to "post-up" or stand on both posts, usually on corner kicks or free kicks from near the touchline.

Serve To serve a ball usually means to play a long ball into the 18 yard box to a runner or runners.  It could be a cross or a ball from a back in early.
Settle

The process of receiving the ball and causing it to stop at or near one’s feet using one's feet, head, chest, thigh or any other way legally touched. May be from a pass, a punt, a header, etc.

Square Pass A pass that is hit parallel to the goal line. In other words, a ball that is played to a player that goes in the direction of either of the side lines.
Stopper Plays right in front of the sweeper and is responsible defensively either for the first forward down field or the first midfielder down field (depending on the way the team plays)
Sweeper The player who plays furthest back on the field (just in front of the keeper) who doesn't have any marking responsibilities and is mainly responsible for helping others out defensively when they have lost their mark.

Through ball

To play a pass behind the defense for one of your players to run onto. This pass has to be made with perfect pace and accuracy so it beats the defense and allows attackers to collect it before the goalkeeper.

Touchline The touchline is the sideline. If you hear someone say that the ball "goes into the touch" it means that it is just out of bounds.
Wall Pass A wall pass is one where Player A passes the ball to Player B and then makes a run. Player B returns the ball to Player A one touch. Think of it as if Player B is simply a wall and the ball is played into the wall and comes back to the player with the same angle. Similar to a give-and-go in basketball.
Wide The ideal place for the right & left midfielders to play which causes the defense to spread in order to cover the entire width of the field.
2006 High School Soccer Code of Conduct (wink, wink, nod, nod)

Sideline Rules of Conduct
For many of life’s endeavors there are unwritten, but fiercely enforced, codes of conduct which must be followed if law and order is to prevail. Soccer is not exempt from such codes and for the benefit of those parents and girls new to the Royals and/or premier soccer your trusty reporter will try and explain some of those rules:

Rule #1: Thou Shalt Not Praise Thy Own Daughter.
It is the late in the second half of a vital game and the score is tied against the arch-villain traditional enemies. Your daughter performs a full speed sliding tackle to strip the ball from an attacker who eluded the keeper 3 feet in front of the goal. She does a “pop-up” slide and comes to her feet without ever losing the ball. Juking and faking, she takes a run up the touchline, leaving opponents sprawling in her wake and then, sensing that the whistle is about to blow, hits an off-foot shot from 35 yards that starts out 20 yards wide and hooks back just into the upper “V” to win the game.

Your reaction? A pleased smile. A little leap no more than 4 inches off the ground. No cries of “Where is Anson Dorrance when we really need him?”

No matter your intent, shoveling plaudits on your own kid is seen as basically self-promotion, selfish, and destructive of team unity. Other parents will mutter darkly and cast jealous glances at you.

Rule #2: Thou Shalt Praise Other Parents’ Daughters.
The reason that you don’t have to praise your own daughter is that it is the sworn duty of the other parents to do it for you.

In situation #1 they will give you high-fives, hug you, and generally declare that the spirit of Pele (or Mia Hamm) is being channeled by your child. When someone else’s little girl does anything ranging from mediocre to spectacular you will run up to them with similar comments, assuring them that international stardom is only a short time away, and that this is proof that the gene pool runs true.

When another girl does something appallingly awful you are duty-bound to rush to the grieving parent to assure them that it wasn’t that bad, and that she’s been having such a good game she can be forgiven one little goof.

Rule #3: Thou Shalt Never Criticize Players in Public.
The coach has done it again. Starting at striker is a girl who is slower than America Online, completely clueless about the tactical niceties of her position, and to whom “airhead” would have to be considered a compliment. You see the opposing team laughing and pointing. You groan in what you think is a quiet voice “How can he even keep that dolt on the team”. Your feet leave the ground as you discover that the hulking behemoth behind you is her Uncle/Brother whom you had never met.

You can generally take as a given that the players are trying as hard as they can with differing amounts of skill. Desirable as a “skillectomy” might be, the ability to trap a line drive and drop it on the shooting foot cannot be grafted on or surgically attached.

Secondly, players are quite aware when they have made a bonehead play. You will rarely hear a player shout “Thanks guys, I didn’t realize that whiffing was a bad thing!”

Thirdly, even at the U-18 level these are still our kids - not professionals - and even the pros make mistakes. The pros are paid to be able to take criticism as aimed at their play rather than themselves as persons. Your daughters aren’t.

Rule #4: When Commenting about the Field Action, Silence is Golden.
At times you may feel like commenting upon the quality of play, the quality of officiating, and the coaches’ decisions.

Due to your years of observing from the sidelines and the fact that you coached the “Sunflowers” in the U-8 rec league you may have the belief that your opinions are (1) accurate, (2) incisive; and (3) worthy of communicating loudly so everyone else can hear them.

You are wrong. Neither the players, the referees, nor the coach are going to make any changes in response to your bellows from the sideline.

They are, however, going to be mad at you - joining a group including your spouse, your friends, and anyone standing close to you. Kids goof, refs goof, coaches goof.

Before you shout, picture your next day at work as you are working on a project and in the doorway to your office are a crowd of players, coaches and refs booing you and demanding that you be fired.

Rule #5: Silence Can Be Deadly.
The usual response to your sideline comments is a tug on your shirt from your spouse, a glare, rolling of eyes by your neighbors, and a silent promise by your daughter to change her name and become an orphan.

However, there are those times when your comments result in a sudden pall of silence and your becoming the center of attention from the sidelines and the field. Sort of like in 4th grade when you fell asleep in class and made a funny sound when you startled awake.

This means you have Crossed The Line from being an obnoxious parent/fan to another status entirely - such as the Unknown Brother at a U-16 Regionals game making anatomically uncomfortable suggestions about where a referee’s un-blown whistle should reside.

When silence falls and you are the focus of everyone’s attention it may be time to announce that you are overdue at the hospital to perform a lifesaving operation and to slink away at top speed.

Rule #6: This Is Still a Game.
Despite the fact that each player’s family has invested a great deal of time and money in soccer at this level, and they are hoping that soccer will help pay the college bills, it is still a game and if your daughter doesn’t enjoy it she will not play well - and maybe not at all.

Ask yourself if what you do at games and practices and tournaments helps your daughter have fun and enjoy the game or adds pressure and worry. Ask yourself after the game if watching two teams of beautiful, talented, fit, and eager young ladies was fun for you?

If it wasn’t - if you found yourself criticizing, carping, upset, and unhappy - remember that there is enough pressure and stress involved with making a living and guiding your family through the challenges of modern life.

Forget the calls, forget the score, forget the standings.

Give your daughter a hug, tell her you love her, and be thankful for every day you have to share with her because they don’t stay kids very long.

This is an excerpt from the FC Royals newsletter of several years ago that was sent by Jim Cathcart. I saved it and pull it out after those occasions when I make a complete jerk out of myself on the sidelines. It reminds me that we all need to remember that, despite the bravado and In-Your-Face T-Shirt slogans, that this is just a game we as parents should use to our benefit to help us raise healthy, emotionally stable, confident and mature young adults - not just great athletes.
 

Many thanks to Ken Gamble for sharing this with us.  Visit his web log at al.com here.

 
The Offside Rule - Explained for Shoppers

(Borrowed from the Georgia High School Soccer Forum as reported on the al.com high school soccer forum as posted by FutbolCoach)

I've no idea if this is true but great analogy:

You're in a shoe shop, second in the queue for the till. Behind the shop assistant on the till is a pair of shoes which you have seen and which you must have. The female shopper in front of you has seen them also and is eyeing them with desire. Both of you have forgotten your purses. It would be totally rude to push in front of the first woman if you had no money to pay for the shoes.

The shop assistant remains at the till waiting.

Your friend is trying on another pair of shoes at the back of the shop and sees your dilemma. She prepares to throw her purse to you. If she does so, you can catch the purse, then walk round the other shopper and buy the shoes. At a pinch she could throw the purse ahead of the other shopper and, whilst it is in flight you could nip around the other shopper, catch the purse and buy the shoes.

Always remembering that until the purse had actually been thrown it would be plain wrong to be forward of the other shopper.

This page was last updated 11/10/11