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Soccer Terminology Part 1

September 29, 2011
Todd County Central High School


  • "A ball in the back of the net knows no gender."  This is what I tell my coed teams when they think that only boys can score.
  • Advantage rule - The referee allows play to continue when an attacking player is fouled by a defending player and to call the foul and stop play would result in the attacking team losing an advantage (on the attack with good scoring chances). If the advantage does not materialize, the referee may still call the foul (blow the whistle) and stop play and award the attacking team with a free kick at the point
    where the foul occurred.
  • Advantages -
  • All Ball! - what coaches and parents like to yell when they feel that a tackle was properly made.  Usually this is a pre-emptive strike yelled just at the referee just before the referee pulls out a yellow or red card to signify that it was a foul.  
  • American Football - What the rest of the world calls our pointy football.
  • Assist - the pass or passes that immediately precede a goal. Only the last pass or the last two passes can qualify as an assist to go in the record book.
  • Assistant Referee - Prior to 1996 they were known as linesmen/lineswomen. There are two per game.  Their job mainly consists of signaling balls out of touch, goal kicks, corner kicks, and offsides positions and to assist the Center referee.
  • Attacking midfielder - the most forward-playing midfielder, playing right behind the forwards; he supports the offense by providing passes to forwards to set up goals.
  • Away - clear the ball out of the area it is in, usually the Penalty Area (PA)
  • AYSO - American Youth Soccer Organization — an administrative body of youth soccer which sets rules and provides information and equipment to youth league referees, coaches and players.


  • B International - An "international" is a match between two national teams.  It does not include a game between just any two teams that come from different countries.
    A "full" international is a match where both teams are "The" national team (sometimes called the senior national team) from their country.  It does not cover, say, U-23 teams playing, which are referred to as "B Internationals."
    Both teams have to be the national team from their country.
  • Back - a defender.
  • Back header - a player's use of his head to direct the ball backwards.
  • Back tackle - an attempt by a defender to take the ball away from a ball carrier by swinging the defender's leg in front of the ball from behind.
  • Ball - going for a loose ball; for example, "Gary's ball"; yelling "mine" may be construed as ungentlemanly conduct, trying to deceive an opponent verbally.
  • Ball-to-Hand - This term means an unintentioned handling of a ball by a player other than the goal-keeper in the Penalty Area.  This action is not deliberate and requires no penalty.  In other words movement of the ball into the players hand.  This is the opposite of Hand-to-Ball which means movement of the hand into the ball which is considered as a deliberate action by the player and is penalized.
  • Banana Kick - A kick (usually a long corner kick) that curves so much that it take the shape of a banana.   The idea is to curve the ball from the corner directly into the goal.
  • Bending Runs - runs made by players on the team with the ball that are not straight.  If you run straight down the field in front of a teammate you can not receive a pass since your back is to the passer.   By making a bending run you are always in a position "open" to a pass.
  • Boots - soccer shoes - what Americans refer to as cleats.
  • Breakaway - when an attacker with the ball approaches the goal undefended; this exciting play pits a sole attacker against the goalkeeper in a one-on-one showdown.
  • Bundesliga - The German professional football league.
  • By-line - what we, Americans,  normally refer to as the goal line. The end line at each end of the field that the goals are lined up on.  


  • Cap - Recognition earned by a player for each appearance in an international game for his country.
  • Cards - Because soccer is often played between players and fans who may not speak each other's language the card system was devised as the universal symbol of fouls.  See also Red Card and Yellow Card.
  • Carry - Dribble
  • Carrying the ball - a foul called on a goalkeeper when he takes more than 4 steps while holding or bouncing the ball.
  • Center - a pass from a player located near the sideline towards the middle of the field; used to get the ball closer to the front of the goal; also called a cross.
  • Center Circle - a circular marking with a 10-yard radius in the center of the field from which kickoffs are taken to start or restart the game.
  • Center Line - The Midfield line that cuts the field in half.  It is parallel to the goals.
  • Center Spot - a small circular mark inside the center circle that denotes the center of the field from which kickoffs are taken to start or restart the game.
  • Central Defender - a player who guards the area directly in front of his own goal in a zone defense; does not exist in a man-to-man defense.
  • Chaining - linking drills together so that complicated skills can be learned by a series of simple steps.
  • Charge - to run into an opponent; legal if done from the front or side of the ball carrier; illegal against a player without the ball or from behind.
  • Charging - A method of unbalancing the player who has possession, or is attempting to gain possession, of the ball. The maneuver of using a "shoulder" (actually from elbow up to and including the shoulder) against an opponent’s shoulder to gain an advantage; permissible only when the ball is playable (i.e. within 3 feet).
  • Chest trap - when a player uses his chest to slow down and control a ball in the air.
  • Chip pass - a pass lofted into the air from a player to a teammate; used primarily to evade a defender by kicking the ball over his head.
  • Chip shot - a kick lofted into the air to try to sail the ball over the goalkeeper's head and still make it under the crossbar into the goal.
  • Chunking - spatial awareness of other players and positions
  • Clear - to kick the ball away from one's goal.
  • Clearing - The act of moving the ball out of the vicinity of one’s own goal area by throwing (goalkeeper only) or kicking it (generally up the sideline).
  • Cleats - the metal, plastic or rubber points in the bottom of a soccer shoe used to provide a player with traction; term also used to refer to the shoes themselves. See also "Boots".
  • Close down - pressure the ball immediately
  • Club Linesman - an un-certified assistant referee or linesman.  They are restricted to helping make out-of-bound calls.
  • Coachable Moment - A quick freeze of the action during a drill.  The coach blows his whistle.  The players freeze their positions.   The coach gets in, makes an observation or point, and then immediately gets back out.  No preaching and no long drawn out speeches.  This is the consensus pick among coaches as the best way to coach drills.
  • Coerver - Weil Coerver - well known Dutch coach who teaches soccer moves and a total soccer concept known as the Coerver method. It relies on lots of repetition to gain ball handling skills.
  • CONCACAF - The Confederation Norte-Centroamericana y Del Caribe de Footbal — the regional organization of North American and Central American soccer under which World Cup qualifying matches are played; member countries include the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Central American and Caribbean countries.
  • Contain - Slow down player with the ball
  • Corner arc - a quarter-circle with a radius of 1 yard located at each of the 4 corners of the field; on a corner kick, the ball must be kicked from inside this arc.
  • Corner flag - the flag located at each of the 4 corners of the field, inside the corner area.
  • Corner kick - a type of restart where the ball is kicked from the corner arc in an attempt to score; awarded to an attacking team when the ball crosses the goal line last touched by the defending team. A kick made by the attacking team from the corner arc on the side of the field where the ball went out of play. A corner kick is awarded when the ball is last touched by a defensive player and goes out of play over the goal line without resulting in a goal. Opponents must be at least 10 yards away from the ball when the kick is taken. A goal may be scored directly (without being touched by another player) from a corner kick.
  • Counterattack - an attack launched by a defending team soon after it regains possession of
    the ball.
  • Creating Space - A term meaning to draw your mark away from your teammates or away from the area that you want open.   The most obvious use of this is to draw defenders out of the box on set plays (i.e. corner kicks) so that a player on your team can use that space to receive, shoot or head the ball.
  • Cross or Crossing Pass - a kick into the middle of the goal box, a pass from an attacking player near the sideline to a teammate in the middle or opposite side of the field; used to give the teammate a good scoring opportunity. A pass in which the ball is kicked from one side of the field to the other side.
  • Crossbar - the horizontal beam that forms the top of a goal and sits on top of the two posts; it is 24 feet long and supported 8 feet above the ground.
  • Cut off the line - A defense against teams that throw "down the line".

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