Soccer is an immensely popular sport worldwide, but the terms and phrases unique to the game stemming from its long and storied history can be confusing to those new to it. In this article, we will define all the important soccer terms you need to know to enjoy the game to the full extent!
Basic Soccer Terms
If you want to join in the fun and follow soccer matches, you need to know some simple rules and words that are necessary to any sports fan’s vocabulary.
This is the total score of a two-legged match. For example, if Team A wins the first leg by a score of 3-0 and Team B wins the second leg by a score of 2-1, then the aggregate score would be 4-2 for Team A.
An assist is given to a player who helps set up a goal. For example, if Player A passes the ball to Player B, who then scores a goal, then Player A would be credited with an assist.
This refers to the player’s ability to keep the ball close to their feet and maintain possession, as well as their ability to move and direct the ball with all allowed parts of the body (head, chest, legs, and feet).
The Ballon d’Or is a soccer term taken from the French language. It means “Golden Ball.” This annual award is given to the best male footballer in the world.
A booking occurs when a player receives a yellow or red card from the referee for committing a foul or for unsportsmanlike behavior.
To accomplish a bicycle kick, the player must throw both their feet in the air and kick the ball back over their head. It’s not an easy move to master, but when top soccer players do it, it looks impressive and is sure to go viral!
A cap is a player’s representation of their country in an international match. For example, if Player A has 50 appearances for England’s national team, then they would have 50 caps. The term originated in the UK, where every soccer or rugby player would receive an actual cap for an appearance in an international game.
A clean sheet is a phrase from soccer jargon used when a team does not concede any goals in a match.
Special soccer shoes with spikes on the soles, which help players grip the ground and have better control and run faster on the pitch.
One of four flags that mark the corners of the playing field.
A kick is taken from the corner of the field. It is usually used to try and score a goal or to get the ball out of danger near one’s own goal.
An equalizer is a goal scored by the team that is losing, to level the score.
The Federation Internationale de Football Association is the international governing body of soccer.
The first touch is a term in soccer closely related to ball control. It denotes a player’s ability to take the ball under control immediately after receiving it. This is an important skill for all players, allowing them to set up their next move.
This is the field where soccer games take place. It is also known as a soccer field.
A foul is an unfair or dangerous play committed by a player. A foul can result in a free kick or a penalty kick awarded to the opposing team.
A kick that is taken without any defenders allowed to defend it. This can happen after a foul or if the other team plays the ball out of bounds.
The metal frame at each end of the field that players try to score goals in. Each goal is worth one point.
The large rectangle in front of each goal. A soccer slang term for it is “the six-yard box.”
The goalkeeper takes a goal kick when the ball goes out of bounds. And the goalkeeper needs to kick the ball from inside the goal area to put it into play.
The line at the back of each goal area. The ball must cross the line with its full circumference for a goal to be scored.
The first round of games in a tournament, in which teams are divided into groups and play each other within those groups. The top teams from each group advance to the next round.
The center line of the field divides it into two halves.
The break between the first and second half of a game. It’s typically 15 minutes long.
Hat-trick is a term used when a player scores three goals in a single game.
The header is a soccer expression used when a player uses their head to direct the ball and score, clear the ball, or pass it to another teammate.
The sport shirt that players wear during a game. Each team has its colors and designs for its jerseys.
The top players a country has to offer are called to the national team so they can represent it in international competitions such as the World Cup, the Euro Cup, or the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
This occurs when an attacker is closer to the opponent’s goal line than both the ball and the closest defender. An offside is usually called by the linesman.
Out of Bounds
When the ball goes out of bounds, it goes outside of the field of play. A throw-in is awarded to the team that did not touch the ball last when it went out of bounds.
In soccer terminology, an own goal is when a player accidentally scores a goal against their own team. This usually happens when a player is trying to clear the ball away from their own goal and accidentally kicks it into their own net.
The large rectangle in front of each goal is also called the “18-yard box.” When the team on defense makes a foul in the penalty area, the offensive team is awarded a penalty.
A free kick taken from inside the penalty area with only the goalkeeper defending it. It is awarded if a foul occurs inside the penalty area. Penalty kicks are also used to decide shootouts.
Another word for “field of play.”
In soccer lingo, the post means the vertical part of the goal frame that the crossbar is attached to.
The top soccer league in England, founded in 1922. It’s made up of 20 teams.
When the goalkeeper stops the ball from going into their own net and prevents a goal from being scored.
A method of deciding a game that is tied after regulation time and extra time. Each team takes turns taking penalty kicks, and the team that scores the most goals wins the game. If the score is still tied after five rounds, it becomes a “sudden death” shootout, where the first team to win a round wins.
The line runs along the length of each side of the field. The ball is considered out-of-bounds if it goes past this line.
This is one of the more common soccer terms that describes a situation when a player tries to take the ball away from another player by sliding with one leg extended and clearing the ball that way. This can be dangerous if not done properly and can result in injuries.
Extra time is added to the end of each half at the referee’s discretion. This is typically used to make up for time lost due to injuries, substitutions, or other delays. It is also known as “injury time.”
When a player tries to take the ball away from another player by using their foot.
A through pass is an important soccer idiom you’ll hear being mentioned many times over during any soccer game broadcast.
It occurs when a player in the attack passes the ball forward through the defense and into open space for his team to run onto and possibly get a chance at goal.
A type of restart awarded when the ball goes out of bounds on the sidelines. The team that did not touch the ball last gets to throw it back in from where it went out. The opposing team must be at least two yards away from where the ball is thrown in.
When two or more players stand close together side-by-side to defend against an opposing player. This is done for free kicks or corners to make it more difficult for the attacking players to create an opportunity at goal.
A type of support from the stands that is quite often seen in international soccer matches. The fans wave their arms back and forth in unison as the “wave” reaches their seats. It is also known in soccer lingo as the “Mexican wave” after the Mexico World Cup in 1986, when this type of cheering was first brought to international audiences.
The FIFA World Cup, also known simply as the World Cup, is a soccer tournament where 32 international teams participate in a month-long competition for the title of the best team in the world. It takes place every four years. Brazil is the most successful team of all time, with five competitions won.
A type of defensive system where each player is responsible for defending a specific area of the field rather than man-marking an opposing player.
Soccer Team Terms
A soccer team consists of 11 players – one is a goalkeeper and the rest of the team is divided into defense, midfield, and offense. Defense players, midfielders, and offense players have different roles on the field. In this section, we’ll go through soccer terms and definitions related to positions on a soccer team.
The one player on each team allowed to use their hands inside their penalty area. Their job is to stop the other team from scoring and to protect their own goal by blocking and deflecting shots.
A player whose job is to stop the other team from scoring by tackling the attacking team players, trying to intercept passes, win possession, and clear the ball.
One of the two defenders in front of the goal. Their job is to stop the other team from scoring and to clear the ball when it is near the goal area.
Full backs are defensive players whose primary role is to defend on the sides of the pitch but who can also prove to be very efficient in joining the attack from the flanks.
A type of defender who roams around behind the other defenders, cleaning up any balls that get past them. They are also sometimes called “liberos.”
A player who plays between the forwards and defenders. Their job is to help both the offense and defense. There are typically three midfielders on a team.
The attacking midfielder is positioned in a more advanced position than the rest of the midfield. Another common soccer term for this kind of player is “playmaker” because they are responsible for creating goal-scoring chances for their team.
The players who play in the offense are closest to the opponent’s goal, and their job is to score goals.
They are the players on the team who are responsible for scoring most of the goals. Striker is another term used for a center forward.
Right and Left Forward
These players are positioned on the extreme sides of the field. Their main job is to run up and down the field, providing support for the midfielders and forwards.
A lot has changed since soccer was first invented. In the early days of the sport, there were fewer rules, and the game was very violent. Today, soccer is a much more regulated sport with specific rules that everyone who plays it must follow.
The two cards, yellow and red, are among the most important soccer terms you need to know.
The yellow card is shown to a player by the referee for committing a foul or some minor offense, such as dissent or time wasting. Two yellow cards result in a red card and ejection from the game.
A card shown for flagrant fouls, resulting in the player being ejected from the game. A red card is given for serious offenses and violent fouls. Two yellow cards also equal a red card.
The official in charge of the game. They enforce the rules and keep order on the field. The referee is assisted by two linesmen, the fourth referee, and the video assistant referee.
One of the officials in a game helps the referee by watching for fouls and out-of-bounds plays. There are typically two linesmen in a game.
When play is resumed after it has been stopped for an infraction or other reasons. There are several different types of restart, such as a kick-off, corner kick, and free kick.
One of the laws that govern how soccer is played. There are 17 official FIFA rules in total.
The Bottom Line
Though its popularity has grown tremendously in recent decades, soccer has been around for centuries. The game has evolved over time and so have the soccer expressions and terms used to describe it.
In this article, we tried to provide an overview of the most important terms and phrases that any soccer fan should have under their belt.
Why is it called a hat trick?
In soccer, a hat trick is considered to be an awe-inspiring feat. However, the term was first used in cricket, where the bowler who would take three wickets in consecutive deliveries received a hat as a souvenir. Over time, it has been adopted into other sports, and in soccer, it is used to say that a player has scored three goals in a single game.
What are rounds called in soccer?
The two parts of the soccer match are called the first and the second half. If the game is tied at the end of regulation time, there are two additional periods of play. These are called extra time. The match goes into the shootout round if no final result after extra time is played.
What is the start of a soccer match called?
The soccer term for the start of the match is “kick-off.” This is how the game starts and restarts after a goal is scored. The ball is placed in the center of the field, and the team that wins the coin toss can choose to get possession first, or they can choose which side of the field to defend.