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The Language of Soccer (Football) Part I

For all you out there groping for the words or trying to understand some of them being spread about, with the World Cup in full swing and its language and the language of the world's most popular sport in the air - for your reading pleasure - another primer on some of the words that make up the game.

HALF TIME The end of the first 45-minute period of play.

HALF VOLLEY Kicking the ball just as it rebounds off the ground.

HANDLING Intentionally playing the ball with the hands, arms, or shoulders.

HANDS Illegal act of intentionally touching the ball with any part of the hands or arms.

HAT TRICK Scoring of three goals in one game by the same player.

HEADER A shot or pass made by hitting the ball with the head.

HEADING Hitting the ball with the front part of the forehead to pass, score, or control the ball.

HEDGING A stalling action where the player backs up while containing an opponent with the ball so that his defense can recover their position.

HOLDING Obstructing a player's movement with hand or arm.

HOOK TACKLE A tackle made by dropping down to one knee and at the same time extending the other leg to hook the ball away from the opposing player (SLIDING TACKLE).

INDIRECT FREE KICK A kick from which a goal cannot be scored directly unless touched by another player.

INJURY TIME Time added on to the end of a game to make up for time lost in the treatment and removal of a playe who has been injured.

INSIDE-OF-THE-FOOT KICK A kick made with the inside edge of the foot, driving the ball to the side or diagonally forward.

INSTEP The part of the foot covered by the laces of the shoe, most often used for kicking.

INSVVINGER A corner kick or cross that swings the ball in the air toward the goal mouth.

INTERCEPTION Gaining possession of the ball before it reaches the intended receiver of the other team.

JOCKEY The giving of ground by a defender in order to gain time.

JUMP KICK A kick made by jumping into the air and kicking the ball while it is two or three feet off the ground.

KICK IN Putting the ball in play when it goes out of play over the side line. In women's soccer, a free kick at a stationary ball on the touch line after the opposing team has driven the ball into touch.

KICKOFF A place kick executed from the center of the field at the start of the game, at the start of each period, and after each score.

KICK TO A STOP Kicking the ball to an open area where a teammate can reach it before an opponent.

LATERAL MOVEMENT Side line-to-side line movement.

LEAD PASS A pass aimed ahead of the intended receiver so that he can pick it up and drive on without breaking stride.

LINEMAN A forward.

LINESMEN Two off~cials who are assistants to the referee and who primarily aid in indicating when the ball has gone over the side lines.

LIQUID CATCH Catching the ball with relaxed fingers and hands and arms drawn to the body.

LOFT (LOB) A high, soft kick taken on the volley; usually a kick over the heads of the defense.

LONG BALL A long pass.

LUNGE To execute a long stride, putting weight on the foot that is moved.

MARK(ING) CoveRING and guarding an opponent so closely that it becomes very difficult for him to receive a pass.

MARKER A score.

MIDFIELDER A player with both offensive and defensive responsibilities whose main job is to link up forwards and defenders (LINKMAN).

MISKICK A poor kick.

MOVING Dribbling.

MOBILITY Constant movement by players to create and use space.

MULTIPLE OFFENSE The movement of players allowing the creation of several offensive patterns.

NEAR POST The post closest to the kicker.

NET Mesh fabric attached to and behind the goal, helpful in judging whether a goal has been scored.

OBSTRUCTING Intentionally blocking an opponent by standing in his path.

OFFSIDE A player out of position. In women's soccer, a player is offside when she is in the attacking half of the field and there are less than three defenders between her and the goal.

OFFSIDE LINE Either of two lines marked across the playing field parallel to and 35 yards from each goal line. These lines are used in American professional soccer in place of the halfway line to determine offsides, and are analogous to the blue lines in ice hockey.

ONE BOUNCE A delayed game (for example, stadium lights go out) is resumed by the referee dropping the ball at midfield between two opposing players, where it is played after bouncing once.

ONSIDE In a legal position with respect to the ball: being behind the ball when it is driven into the attacking part of the field, or having at least two defenders nearer the goal when the ball is being played by a teammate.

OUT OF BOUNDS A situation that takes place when a ball is completely over the end line or touch line.

OUT OF PLAY A situation that takes place when a ball goes off the field, the goal line, or the side line.

OUTSIDE FORWARDS The two forwards in a five-man forward line who usually play along the sides of the field.

OUTSIDE HALVES The two halfbacks who usually play near the sides of the field.

OUTSIDE LEFT The left wing forward.

OUTSIDE RIGHT The right wing forward.

OUTSTEP The outer surface of the instep.

OUTSWINGER A corner kick or cross that swings the ball in the air away from the goal mouth.

OVERLAP The attacking play of a defender moving down the touch line past his own winger.

OWN GOAL A goal that a defensive player accidentally knocks into his own goal.

PASS To kick or head the ball to a teammate.

PASS-BACK A pass made back to one's goalkeeper, usually in a pressure situation.

PASSIVE RESISTANCE Opposing with little effort.

PENALTY AREA A portion of the playing field in front of each goal; a foul by a defending player within this area results in a penalty kick for the opposing player. In men's soccer, the penalty area is 44 yards wide by 18 yards deep and centered on the goal. A ten-yard arc extending from the penalty kick mark beyond the far end of the area serves to extend the penalty area during a penalty kick, since no player except for the kicker is permitted to stay within ten yards of the ball. In women's soccer, the penalty area is a semicircle with a 15-yard radius centered on the goal.

PENALTY GOAL A goal scored on a penalty kick.

PENALTY KICK A direct free kick, taken from the 12-yard spot in front of the goal, that is awarded for fouls committed by the defending team within their own penalty area.

PENALTY MARK The spot l2 yards directly in front of each goal, usually indicated by a short line. It is from this mark that the penalty kick is taken.

PENALTY SPOT A spot 12 yards from goal from which penalty kicks are taken.

PENETRATION Accurate and quick advancing of the ball in a scoring attempt.

PITCH A British name for the playing field.

PIVOT INSTEP KICK A kick made by swinging the leg around in front of the body, hitting the ball with the instep, and driving it to the side rather than straight ahead.

PLACE KICK A kick at a stationary ball placed on the ground.

PLAY THEM OFFSIDE A method of making offensive players move away from the goal.

POSITION The area of the field occupied by a player.

PULL To remove a goalkeeper when trailing late in a game and replace him with an additional offensive player to increase the chances of scoring.

PUNT To kick a ball as it is dropped from the hands.

PUSH PASS A pass made by shoving the ball with the foot instead of kicking it.

READ Anticipating and getting set for action that may take place; understanding and reacting to the strategy of the opposition (READING THE GAME).

RED CARD A card used by the referee in international soccer to indicate that a player is being ejected from the game.

REFEREE The official responsible for the timing and control of the game.

RIDING A BALL A means of cushioning the impact of a ball, reducing its speed, and bringing it under control that is executed by a player giving at (or relaxing) the part of the body where the ball hits.

RUNNING OFF THE BALL Player movements into pass-receiving positions.

SAG OFF To move away from an opponent being marked.

SAVE The goalkeeper stopping an attempted goal by catching or

deflecting the ball; any prevention of the ball from entering the goal.

SCISSORS KICK A kick made by jumping up and kicking first one leg into the air and the other, which sends the ball above the head, usually to the rear of the player.

SCORE To get the ball to pass over the goal line between the uprights and under the crossbar, without it being interfered with by the goalkeeper or another defensive player.

SCORING CHANCE An opportunity to take a shot at goal.

SCREEN Keeping possession of and protecting the ball by placing one's body between the ball and the opponent.

SENDING OFF The dismissal of a player from the game by the referee.

SET UP To kick the ball aloft and get it to land near the goal.

SHEPHERD To maneuver opponents into less dangerous positions while retreating.

SHOOTOUT North American Soccer League procedure used when teams are tied after playing two sudden death overtime periods: the teams take five alternating shootout attempts at opposing goalkeepers in one-on-one situations.

SHOT An attempt to score by kicking or heading the ball toward the goal line.

SIDE FOOT A shot or pass made by kicking the ball with the side of the foot.

SIDE LINE The long side of the field-boundary line.

SKIED A ball kicked needlessly high into the air.

SLIDING TACKLE An attempt to take the ball away from the opponent by sliding on the ground, extending the leg, and hooking the ball.

SOLE KICK A kick in which the sole of the shoe is put on top of the ball and the ball is pushed forcefully to the rear (SOLE-OF-THE-FOOT KICK; SOLE TRAP).

SPACE Open areas on the playing field that can be used by the offense.

SPLIT TACKLE A tackle in which one foot is stationary and the

other is aimed at the ball, as the tackler ends up on the field in a position resembling a split.

SPOT KICK A stationary-ball kick; another terrn for the penalty kick.

SQUARE BALL Passing across the field approximately parallel to the goal line.

SQUARE PASS A pass pushed laterally across the field to a player moving forward.

STALEMATE Two players facing each other, each waiting for the other to make a move (STAND-OFF).

STANCE The position of a player's feet.

STOP A catch or deflection of a shot by a goalkeeper.

STOPPER BACK The back who plays near the center of the field, usually the center halfback.

STRIKER A central forward position whose major responsibility is scoring goals.

STRONG FOOT The foot a player is more skilled in using.

SWERVE KICK A kick with the outside of the foot that makes the ball swerve in flight.

SWITCH The act of one player exchanging places (position) with a teammate, and vice-versa.

TACKLE (TACKLING) Attempting to kick the ball away from an opponent, to make him lose control of it, to cause him to hurry his pass. Tackling takes place when both players are playing the ball with their feet.

THROUGH PASS A pass that goes through two opposition players to a teammate.

THROW IN The means of resuming play after the ball has gone out of bounds at the sidelines: an opponent of the team that sent it out is given the ball to throw back in.

TOUCH Out-of-bounds area, outside of the touch lines.

TOUCH LINE Boundary lines on the side of the field; the side lines.

TOUCH-LINE KICK A free kick from the touch line performed from the spot where the ball left the playing field.

TRAP(PING) A method of controlling the ball by stopping it with the feet, chest, thighs, or head.

UNGENTLEMANLY CONDUCT Striking an opponent, etc., which can result in a player being dismissed from the game.

VOLLEY(ING) Kicking a ball while it is in the air.

WALL A lined-up barrier of 3-7 defenders positioned near the goal to help the goalkeeper in his defense against a free kick and to block as much of the kicker's view of the goal as possible.

WEAK FOOT The foot a player is less skilled with.

WIDTH The holding of wide positions on the field by players to facilitate passing over the entire width of the field.

WING The area of the field near the touch line.

WORLD CUP A world championship competition held every four years. Each nation, generally represented by its best players, engages in regional competition until there is a final elimination competition of 16 teams. The World Cup trophy is won permanently by any national team that wins the World Cup three times.

YELLOW CARD A warning card held up by the referee to indicate that a player has committed a serious foul and is thereby being cautioned.

#   #   #

You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

About the Author:

Harvey Frommer is in his  38th year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to acclaim in 2011.  The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One. 

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