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 – a primer on
just some of the words that make up the
ACTIVE RESISTANCE: To use
force in opposing another player.
ADVANTAGE RULE: A
regulation that mandates that play is not
stopped for a violation if the offending
team has not gained an advantage or if
stopping play would place the offended team
at a disadvantage.
ANGLE OF POSSIBILITY: The
angle created by imaginary lines drawn from
the ball to each upright of the goal within
which the ball must enter to score a goal.
ANTICIPATION: Judging an
opponent’s action and moving into position
to react accordingly and effectively.
BACK FOUR: In modern
soccer, the four defenders.
BACK PASS: A pass by a
player to a teammate behind him.
BACK UP: Playing behind a
teammate to strengthen the defense or to
receive a pass.
BANANA SHOT: A forceful
shot at the goal: the ball is kicked off
center and curves in flight.
BEAT: To reach a ball
before an opponent does, or to outmaneuver
an opponent through effective dribbling, or
to get the ball.
BICYCLE KICK: An acrobatic
technique in which the ball is kicked
overhead as the kicker lands on his back.
BOOK: The recording in a
book by the referee of the name or names of
players guilty of unsportsmanlike behavior;
this action is a warning to a player that he
might be removed from the game if the
unsportsmanlike behavior is repeated.
BOOT:To kick the ball.
BOUNDING BOARD: A goal-size
structure used for kicking, passing, and
ball-control drills (KICK BOARD).
BOX: The “18-yard box”
BULLY: Frenzied and
confused action with several players trying
to gain control of the ball, generally in
front of the goal mouth.
BUNCH: A situation where
two or more players from the same team move
into the same area of the field as another
BYE: A shot wide of the
goal that crosses the goal line.
CAP: To choose a player to
compete for a national team in international
CARRY(ING) : A goalkeeper
violation that involves his going beyond the
four allowed steps without bouncing the
CAUTION: A warning given by
the referee to a player that involves the
referee’s holding up a yellow card and
writing the player’s name in a notebook.
CENTER: The act of passing
the ball in the air from a side-line
position back toward the center of the field
and, if possible, in front of the goal of
CENTER CIRCLE: A
ten-yard-radius circle at the center of the
CENTER LINE: A straight
line dividing the field of play in half that
runs f~om side line to side line.
pushing an opponent away from the ball or
throwing him off balance.
CHEST TRAP: The act of
trapping the ball with the chest in order to
control the ball as it falls to the ground.
CHIPPING: A short, raised
pass made with the instep or inside of the
foot. Also, the act of lifting the ball over
the head of an opponent.
CLEAR (CLEARANCE) : A throw
or kick, usually by the goalkeeper, that
sends the ball out of danger from his end of
COMBINATION: A play that
involves two or more members of the same
team who work together to outsmart the
CONTAINMENT: The act of
keeping the opposition restricted to a
certain area of the playing field.
CONVERT: To successfully
make a penalty kick.
CORNER: The small arc at
each corner of the field from which corner
kicks are executed.
CORNER FLAG: A flag
positioned at each comer of the field.
CORNER KICK: A direct
free-kick given the offensive team. The kick
takes place from the corner of the field
nearest the spot the ball went over the goal
line after last being touched by the
COUNTERATTACK: To begin an
attack immediately after gaining possession
of the ball.
COVER: The act of staying
very close to an opponent and hampering his
ability to play the ball.
CROSS: The act of kicking
the ball from one side of the field to the
DANGEROUS PLAY: A play that
the referee judges capable of causing injury
to a player.
DEAD BALL: A ball no longer
in play because it has gone out of bounds or
the referee has stopped play.
DECOY PLAY: A move designed
to draw an opponent away from a certain
DEFENDER: A defensive
player, who aids the goalkeeper in
protecting the goal.
DEFENDING TEAM: The team
that attempts to gain control of the ball
while defending its own goal.
DEPTH: An extra-man
advantage that gives a player in possession
of the ball several passing chances and
DIRECT FREE KICK: A kick,
awarded for major fouls, that is a free kick
from which a goal can be scored directly by
DISSENT: Arguing with a
referee, which may result in a player being
booked or sent off (ejected fiom the game).
DRAW: To cause an opponent
to leave the player he is covering.
DRIBBLE: To advance the
ball past defenders through a series of
short taps with one or both feet while
keeping the ball within one stride.
DRIVING THE BALL: A
hard-hit shot at the goal or a long,
DROP BALL: A method of
restarting play after temporary suspension
of action whereby the referee drops the ball
between two players who will both try to
kick or otherwise gain control of the ball.
DROP KICKING: The act of
kicking the ball the instant it makes
contact with the ground.
EJECTION: The banishing of
a player from the game by the referee.
ELEVEN: A soccer team (XI).
END LINE: The boundary line
that marks the end of the field.
EQUALIZER: A goal that ties
Additional playing time at the end of a game
by unusual delays during the game and for
which there were no time outs permitted
FAR POST: The goal post
farthest from the kicker.
FEED: Passing the ball to a
teammate who can shoot for a goal.
FEINT: A deceptive move to
mislead or confuse an opponent (FAKE).
FIFTY-FIFTY BALL: A loose
ball that both teams have equal opportunity
to bring under control.
FIRST-TIME KICK: Kicking a
ball without trapping or controlling it.
FISTING: Punching at the
ball with the fist(s).
FLICK: Passing the ball
with a strong, outside-of-the-foot movement
FORMATIONS: Line-ups on the
soccer field. Players today are broken down
into three groups: defenders, midfielders,
and forwards. The goalkeeper is omitted, for
no matter what the formation, his position
is always the same.
FORWARD: Mainly an
attacking player whose job is to create and
FOULING: Illegally using
the hands or body against an opponent, which
can lead to a direct free kick for the
FOUL THROW: An illegally
FREEBACK: A player not
specifically designated to mark or guard an
opponent (SWEEPER; LIBERO).
FREE KICK: A unhampered
kick of a stationary ball awarded a team
when an opponent commits a foul.
FRIENDLY: A game between
two international teams before the beginning
of regular international competition
FULL TIME: The close of the
A last-minute, surprising victory.
GIVE AND GO: Passing the
ball to a teammate and running to a position
to receive the return (WALL PASS).
GOAL: The target area, 24
feet wide by eight feet high. Also, the
score made when the ball passes between the
goal posts beneath the crossbar.
GOALKEEPER: The final line
of defense and the only player permitted to
use his hands within the field of play, with
the restriction that this is done within the
GOAL KICK: A type of kick
performed by a defender when the ball last
touched by an attacking player passes over
the goal line without going into the goal;
the ball must be kicked from inside the
team’s goal area and must go beyond the
penalty area of the team.
GOAL LINE: The boundary
line at the ends of the field.
GOAL MOUTH: The area
immediately in front of the goal, between
the goal posts and the crossbar.
GOAL POSTS: Usually wooden
posts between four and five inches in width
HALF TIME: The end of the
first 45-minute period of play.
HALF VOLLEY: Kicking the
ball just as it rebounds off the ground.
playing the ball with the hands, arms, or
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
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
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.
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
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
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
MARK(ING): CoveRING and
guarding an opponent so closely that it
becomes very difficult for him to receive a
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.
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.
blocking an opponent by standing in his
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
OUTSIDE LEFT: The left wing
OUTSIDE RIGHT: The right
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
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
PENALTY SPOT:A spot 12
yards from goal from which penalty kicks are
PENETRATION: Accurate and
quick advancing of the ball in a scoring
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
PLACE KICK: A kick at a
stationary ball placed on the ground.
PLAY THEM OFFSIDE: A method
of making offensive players move away from
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
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
REFEREE: The official
responsible for the timing and control of
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
RUNNING OFF THE BALL:
Player movements into pass-receiving
SAG OFF: To move away from
an opponent being marked.
SAVE: The goalkeeper
stopping an attempted goal by catching
ordeflecting 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
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
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
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
SHOT: An attempt to score
by kicking or heading the ball toward the
SIDE FOOT: A shot or pass
made by kicking the ball with the side of
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
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
SPOT KICK: A
stationary-ball kick; another terrn for the
SQUARE BALL: Passing across
the field approximately parallel to the goal
SQUARE PASS: A pass pushed
laterally across the field to a player
STALEMATE: Two players
facing each other, each waiting for the
other to make a move (STAND-OFF).
STANCE: The position of a
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.