Soccer Terms

Here is a list of soccer terms players need to internalize. I will add diagrams and demonstrations over time. If you have any terms you would like to add please say so in the comment section.


Against the Run of Play: When a team scores on a counter attack after conceding a great deal possession.

Bending the ball: Getting the ball to curl when striking.

Bicycle kick: When a striker kicks the ball over his head.

Booking: A term used when a player gets a yellow or red card.

Channels: We divide the pitch into 3, 4, or 5 vertical areas (i.e. left channel, centre channel, and right channel).

Chip pass: A pass lofted into the air, over the defender.

Chip shot: A shot lofted into the air with the intention of scoring over the goalkeeper.

Clearance: When the defender kicks the ball out of bounds or up field to reduce defensive zone pressure.

Close down: Defender applies pressure to an attacker, reducing space between them and the attacker.

Corner kick: A dead ball phase when the ball goes over the goal line, last touched by the defending team.

Counter-attack: An attacking phase launched by a defending team immediately after they regain possession of the ball.

Cross: A pass played from the wide areas into the centre channel in the final third of the pitch.

Dead Ball: A phase of play where the ball is not moving (i.e. free kick, penalty kicks, goal kicks, corner kicks and kick-offs).

Direct kick: A goal can be scored directly from a dead ball strike.

Dissent: When a player shows disrespect towards the referee’s decision.

Dribble: Keeping control of the ball while moving with short touches.

Drop kick: When a goalkeeper releases the ball, it bounces then they kick it.

Dummy: A player pretends to receive a pass, allowing their teammate to receive instead.

Formation: The arrangement of players on the pitch. Usually consist of a combination of Forwards, Midfielders, Defenders and Goalkeepers.

Fifty-Fifty Ball: A loose ball where both teams have an equal opportunity to gain possession.

Free kick: A dead ball situation given due to a foul from the other team. A free kick is either a direct kick or an indirect kick.

Goal kick: When the attacking kicks the ball over the goal line (over the net), the defending team restarts the match with a dead ball kick from the goal line.

Hand ball: Touching the ball with an arm or hand illegally.

Header: Using the head to strike or control the ball.

Indirect kick: A player must touch the ball before a goal can be scored.

Juggling: Keeping the ball off of the ground using various touches.

Kickoff: We restart the match at half after a goal with a kickoff. Kickoffs are also how we begin either half.

Marking: Close defending on a near player.

Man on: Used by teammates to communicate that a defender is coming.

Nutmeg: A pass that goes through the defender’s leg.

Offside: When the attacker is closer to the opposing goal line than both the ball and the last two defenders (the goalie counts as a defender).

Overlap: When a supporting player makes a run into positive space, on the touchline side.

Overloads: Numerical advantage when attacking or defending (ie 4v2, 3v1, 1v2).

Own-goal: A player scores a goal in their own net.

Penalty kick: When an attacker is fouled inside the 18 yard box, they are awarded a kick from the penalty spot. All other players on both teams most be outside the designated space as the striker attempts to score 1 on 1 with a dead ball strike against the goalie.

Pitch: Another word for “field”.

Punt: A drop kick by the goalie, where the ball doesn’t hit to the ground after releasing from hands.

Save: When the goalie stops a shot from going into their net.

Scrimmage: A practice match.

Strike: To make contact with the ball using any legal part of the body to pass or shoot.

Tackle: To take the ball from the opposing player. Tackles can be standing or sliding.

Throw-in: When the opposing team knocks the ball out of bounds, your team may throw the ball back into play using the proper Two-Handed technique.

Through ball: A pass played in behind the defenders to a teammate making their run.

Touch: Player’s first contact with the ball.

Touch Line: Another term for Side Line.

Trapping: Stopping the ball on first touch to gain control.

Volley: Striking the ball while in the air.

Wall Pass: A Give-N-Go. Player 1 passes to Player 2 and then gets in behind the defender where he will receive the ball back from Player 2.

Zones: We divide the pitch in 3 or 4 horizontal areas (attacking zones, neutral zone and defending zone).

Check us out on Twitter: @SoccerWizdom and Instagram: @PierceHughCampbell. Click here for “25 Inspirational Soccer Quotes”.

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