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Home >> The Soccer Glossary



Attacker - the player who has the ball and is trying to score a goal.

Back Header - glancing or flicking the ball behind you with your head.
Back Heel - a type of kick used to move the ball backwards by striking it with your heel.
Backswing - the distance you bring your kicking foot back behind you before you kick the ball.
Banana Kick - a kick that makes the ball bend or swerve in the air instead of going straight.
Block Tackle - a way of tackling your opponent head-on and gaining possession of the ball while still on your feet.

Caution - a warning from the referee given to a player for arguing or persistently breaking the rules.
Center - to pass the ball from a wide position on the field into the penalty area.
Charging - pushing the opponent off-balance legally by shoulder-to-shoulder contact.
Chip Pass - a pass used to kick the ball over a defender by kicking it into the air at a sharp angle using a stabbing action.
Clear - a throw or kick by the goalkeeper or a kick by a defender to get the ball away from the goal.
Closing Down - a defensive move used to deny an attacker the space to maneuver; moving closer to the opponent who has the ball.
Corner Arc - the quarter-circle arc located in each of the 4 corners of the field, from which corner kicks are taken.
Corner Kick - a free kick made from the corner arc area of the field, after the ball goes over the end line but not into the goal.
Cross - to pass the ball laterally across the field.
Cushioning - a method of taking the pace out of the ball and making it easier to control by stopping it against part of your body before you kick it.

Dangerous Play - a play that is too rough and might harm another player.
Defender - the player whose main job is to protect the goal, prevent opponents' shots, and get the ball back for his/her team.
Direct Free Kick - a kick that can score a direct goal, awarded after the other team commits a foul.
Dribble - a way of advancing the ball on the ground by moving and controlling it with a series of short taps using one or both feet, while running.
Drop Ball - a ball the referee drops between two players, one from each team, to restart play.

End Line - the goal line.

Fake - a move made by a player to fool or confuse the opponent (usually while dribbling or shooting), also called a feint.
Far Post - the goalpost farthest from the ball.
FIFA - The Federation Internationale de Football Association, which rules over soccer all over the world.
Filling In - temporarily covering a teammate's position.
Flank - the sides or wing areas of the field.
Follow-Through - the distance your foot travels in the direction of the ball after you have actually kicked it.
Formation - the arrangement of a team's players on the field by positions. Note: formations are usually described by numbers which are sequenced starting from the positions nearest a team's goal. Examples:
4-3-3 - most common formation with goalkeeper and four defenders (sweeper plus 3 fullbacks), three halfbacks and three forwards.
4-4-2 - common alternative, goalkeeper, four defenders, four halfbacks and two forwards.
Forward - an offensive player whose main job is to score goals.
Foul - a play that breaks a rule of soccer, which the referee calls and results in a free kick for the other team.
Free Kick - a kick awarded to the other team after a foul has been committed.
Front Runner - an attacking player who often waits upfield and acts as a target player.
Fullback - another name for a defender.

Goalkeeper - the player who protects the goal area and tries to stop the oppenents from scoring goals, the only player allowed to use his/her hands (but only while in the goal area), also known as the goalie or keeper.
Goal Kick - a free kick for the defending team that restarts play after the ball has crossed the goal line, last touched by the attacking team.
Goal Line - the line that stretched across the end of each field and marks the goal.
Goalmouth - the area right in front of the goal.
Goal side - the position a defender takes up when marking an attacker, that is, between the attacker and the defender's own goal.

Halfback - the player who is between the forwards and defenders, also known as a midfielder or simply a mid.
Half-Volley - kicking the ball just as it rebounds off the ground.
Handball - illegally touching the ball with the hands or arms.
Heading - a method of scoring, passing or controlling the ball by hitting it with the forehead.

Indirect Free Kick - a kick from which the kicker cannot score directly, the ball must touch a second player on the field (either team) before entering the goal.
Instep - the top part of the foot where the shoelaces are, used often for shooting and passing.
Instep Pass - a pass made by striking the ball with the instep.
In Space - in an area of the field not occupied by other players.

Jockeying - retreating with an attacker to buy time for the rest of the defense to catch up.
Juggling - keepin the ball off the ground with use of the feet, thighs and head.

Kick-Off - the kick made from the center of the field that is used to start the game, the second half of a game, and after each goal.

Laying Off the Ball - passing the ball to a teammate, usually a soft one-touch pass.
Linesperson - usually two for each game, they carry flags up and down a touchline for each half of the field and help the referee with calls.
Lob (or Chip) - a high, soft kick to lift it over another player's heads.
Lofted Pass - a pass used to kick the ball through the air over long distances.

Marking - guarding a selected opponent by staying close to him/her when they are in or near scoring position.
Man On - the call a player makes to a teammate who is closely marked by an opposing player but may not be aware of it.
Man-to-Man Marking - a method of defense in which each defender is assigned one particular opponent to mark.
Midfielder (or Mid) - the player that controls the middle part of the field and helps as both an attacker and defender, also known as a halfback.

Narrowing the Angle - a goalkeeping technique used to reduce the area of the goal that an attacker could shoot at.
Near Post - the goalpost nearest from the ball.

Obstruction - preventing an opponent from getting past a player by standing in or blocking their path.
Offside - a foul on a player who is in an offside position and interferes with play when the ball is touched by a teammate.
Off the Ball - being positioned away from the ball.
One-Touch Pass - a first-time pass using only one touch on the ball.
Overhitting - kicking the ball too far, so that a team-mate is unable to reach it.
Overlap - the attacking play of a defender going down the touchline past a halfback or winger on the same team.

Passing - sending the ball from one player to another by kicking or heading it.
Penalty Arc - the semi-circle arc at the top of the penalty box.
Penalty Box - the area in front of the goal (18x44 yards).
Penalty Kick - a direct free kick taken from the penalty spot, awarded for a foul committed inside the penalty box.
Penalty Spot - the spot 12 yards in front of the goal from where penalty kicks are taken.
Pitch - another name for the field of play.
Push Up - to move up the field toward the opponent's end of the field.

Red Card - the card the referee uses to eject a player from the game for committing a major foul.
Referee - the person who calls the fouls in a soccer game and keeps the official time.

Save - the goalkeeper stopping an attempted shot on goal by catching or deflecting the ball away from the goal.
Scissors Kick - a kick that requires the player to jump up, twist and put one leg above the head to strike the ball, causing the player to land on the ground.
Screening - retaining possession and protecting the ball by keeping the body between the ball and opponent.
Sending Off - a player can be sent off the field by the referee for serious offenses such as violent conduct or using bad language.
Set Pieces - formations and tactics used during restarts; throw-ins, corner kicks, goal kicks, free kicks, and penalty kicks.
Shielding - guarding the ball from opponents with your body.
Shooting - kicking the ball directly at the goal to score.
Shootout - the tie-breaking procedure used when teams have tied after playing overtime periods. Teams must use players who were on the field at the end of the last overtime period to take five alternating shots at the opposing goal and goalie. The team ahead at the end of five shots by both teams is the winner. If the score is still tied, the shootout may go to sudden death where the first team to gain a one goal advantage after two players have shot on goal wins. In this case, each team must use players other than the first five and who were also on the field. during the last overtime period.
Shoulder Tackle - a tackle used to get the ball away from an opponent by making shoulder-to-shoulder contact with him/her.
Sidelining the Attacker - when a defender forces the attacker to dribble to the side of the field, nearer the sideline.
Sliding Tackle - attempting to take the ball away from an opponent by sliding at it on the ground.
Stopper - a player who plays across and in-front of the main line of defenders; his/her job is to stop balls from getting near the goal.
Striker - a forward the shoots and scores often.
Sweeper - a player who plays across and behind the main line of defenders in case any balls get through; his/her job is to "sweep" balls away from the goal.
Swerving Pass - a pass with a lot of spin to make the ball curve around an opponent.

Tackling - using the feet to take the ball away from an opponent who is playing the ball with his/her feet.
Take On - to beat a defender with a dribble.
Target Man - an attacking player who acts as a target for forward passes from teammates.
Throw-In - a two-handed, over-the-head throw used to put the ball back into play after it has gone over the touchline, last touched by the opposing team.
Touchline - also known as the sideline, it marks the boundaries up and down the field.
Trapping - stopping and controlling the ball with the feet, thighs, head or chest.

Underhitting - kicking the ball too softly, so that it does not reach an opponent.
USSF - the United States Soccer Federation which oversees all soccer in America.
USYSA - a the United States Youth Soccer Association which oversees all youth soccer in America.

Volley - kicking the ball while it is in the air.

Wall - a group of players that stand together to try and block a free kick.
Wall Pass - a pass by a player to a teammate who passes it right back to the player as he/she runs by (a give-and-go).
Wing - an area of the field near the touchline.
Winger - a player who plays outside of the field, near the touchline.
World Cup - the prize given to the best national soccer team in the world every four years.

Yellow Card - the card the referee gives to a player as a warning for committing a foul.

Zone Marking - a method of defense in which defenders guard an area of the field (and opponents in that area) rather than marking a particular player.

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