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   soccer glossary  
Advantage:    when a team quickly advances the ball down the field in an attempt to get its players near the opponent's goal before the defenders have a chance to retreat. See also Against the Run of Play, Break, Counterattack and Fast Break.

Advantage rule:    A choice the referee makes to allow the teams to keep playing when a foul is committed because the team that was fouled is better off.

Arc:    the quarter circle at each corner of the field in which the ball is placed for a corner kick.

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 out of bounds, goal kicks, corner kicks, and offsides positions and to assist the Center referee. See also Linesmen and Linesperson.

Attacker:    any player on the team that has possession of the ball. See also Central Forward, Forward, Goal Poacher, Offensive Player, Poacher, Striker, and Target Man.

Attacking Midfielder:    the most forward-playing midfielder, playing right behind the forwards; they support the offense by providing passes to forwards to set up goals. See also Withdrawn Forward.

Attacking Team:    the team that has possession of the ball. Also see Offensive Team and On Offense.

Away:    clear the ball out of the area it is in, usually the Penalty Area.

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 player. Also known as a runaway soccer organization.

Back:    A defender. Most teams play with three or four defenders.

Bicycle kick (scissors kick):    When a player jumps in the air and kicks the ball back over his own head. 

Center Mark:    The circle at the middle of the field. It should be 10 yards in diameter.

Central Defender:    When teams use four defenders, the two central defenders guard the other teams most forward attacking players. 

Challenge:    An attempt to take the ball away from another player; legal if done from the front or side of the ball carrier; illegal against a player without the ball or from behind.

Chest trap:    When a player uses his chest to slow down and control a ball in the air.

Chip:    A pass lofted into the air from a player to a teammate or as a shot on goal.

Clear:    To kick the ball away from one's goal.

Club:    A team that plays in a league.

Corner Arc:    An arc with a radius of 1 yard at the 4 corners of the field where the touchlines meet the goal lines.

Corner Flag:    The flag located at each of the 4 corners of the field.

Corner kick:    Corner kicks are awarded when a defending player makes contact with the ball last before it crosses the end line. The attacking team then kicks the ball back into play from the corner of the field. 

Counterattack:    A quick attack by a defending team after it regains possession of the ball.

Creating space:    When a player from the attacking team passes the ball, he runs into an open area, causing the defenders to follow him. This creates open space for the player with the ball.

Cross or serve:    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 or to relieve defensive pressure.

Dangerous play:    When a player attempts a play that the referee considers dangerous to that player or others, such as kicking the ball when another player is already playing it with his head.

Dead ball:    A ball that's not in play while on the field. For instance: free kicks, corner kicks, penalty kicks and throw-ins. 

Defenders:    The 3 or 4 players on a team whose primary task is to stop the opposition from scoring.

Defensive midfielder:    The defending midfielder plays right in front of the defenders. He helps guard the most dangerous attacking player on the other team.

Direct Free Kick:    A free-kick resulting from a foul that can be shot into the goal without having to be touched by another player.

Dissent:    When a player yells or even swears at the referee and gets a yellow card as a result.

Diving header:    A ball struck near ground level by the head of a diving player.

Draw:    A game that ends with a tied score. The American term "Tie" refers to a scheduled match.

Dribbling:    The basic skill of advancing the ball with the feet while controlling it.

Drop ball:    Used after an injury stops play or play has been stopped for some other reason without the ball going out of bounds. The referee drops the ball where play stopped. The ball must bounce before players can kick it. 

Drop kick:    When a goalie drops the ball from his hands and kicks it after it hits the ground.

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End line:    Also called the goal line, which runs the width of the field on each end, with the goal placed in the middle. European Cup:    The championship tournament played between Europe's top national teams.

Expulsion:    Another term for red card or ejection. The British also use "sent off." 

Extra time:    Another name for overtime. Usually a "sudden death" situation in which the first team to score wins. Don't confuse with injury time or stoppage. 

Far Post:    The goalpost farthest from the ball.

Football Association (F.A.):    The English Football Association, the governing body of English soccer.

Far post:    The goal post furthest from the ball.

FIFA:    Federation Internationale de Football Association - the official governing body of international soccer since 1904.

FIFA World Cup:    A solid gold statue given to the champion of each World Cup tournament every four years.

Football:    Name for soccer everywhere except in the U.S.

Forwards:    The players on a team who are responsible for most of a team's scoring; they play in front of the rest of their team where they can take most of its shots...

Foul:    A violation of the rules for which an official assesses a free kick. Fouls can either be direct, meaning the ball doesn't have to touch anyone before it goes into the net, or indirect, meaning it has to touch at least one other player before going into the net.

4-4-2:    A formation that consists of 4 defenders, 4 midfielders and 2 forwards. Also the name of a popular British soccer magazine.

Free kick:    A kick awarded to a player for a foul committed by the opposition; the player kicks a stationary ball without any opposing players within 10 feet of him.

 Give and Go:    A play in which a player makes a short pass to another player and then immediately breaks and receives the ball back. Also referred to as a ‘wall pass’.

Goal Area:    A box surrounding the goal that stops and starts 2 yards to each side of the goal (from the inside of the goal post) and extends into the field 6 yards.

Goalkeeper(goalie):    The player positioned directly in front of the goal who tries to prevent shots from getting into the net behind him; the only player allowed to use his hands and arms, though only within the penalty area.

Goal Kick:    A free-kick awarded the goalie if the offense was the last to contact the ball before passing over the goal line.

Goal line:    The line marking the boundaries of the shortest part of the field.

Goal mouth:    The area directly in front of the goal. 

Golden Goal:    A popular term for an overtime or sudden-death goal. 

Hacking:    Kicking an opponent's legs.

Hand ball:    A foul where a player touches the ball with his hand or arm; the opposing team is awarded a direct free kick.

Half volley:    A kick or shot made on the short hop, immediately after the ball hits the ground. Half-time:    The interval between halves, usually 10 minutes. 

Hat trick:    When a player scores three goals in a game. Header or Head Shot:    When a player shoots or passes the ball by hitting it with her head. 

Indirect Free Kick:    A free kick resulting from a foul that cannot be shot directly into the goal. If the ball enters the goal without touching another player, the goal is void.

Injury Time:    Additional time added to the end of each half to compensate for the stoppage of play due to injuries, wasted time, or the scoring of a goal.

Inswinger:    A shot, pass or corner kick in which the ball curves toward the goal. 

Juggling:    Keeping a ball in the air with any part of the body besides the hands or arms; used for practice and developing coordination.

Kickoff:    A free kick used to star the game, half, overtime or play after a goal. Unlike American football, however, the kicking team does not have to boot the ball to the opposition. Instead, the team is allowed to pass it to members of its own team. 

Laws of the Game:    The 17 main rules for soccer established by FIFA.

Linesmen:    The 2 officials who assist the referee in making his decisions; they monitor the sidelines and goal lines to determine when a ball goes out of bounds and they carry a flag to signal their observations.

Man-to-man marking:    When each defender is assigned to cover a specific offensive player. 

Match:    A soccer game. 

Marking:    Guarding a player to prevent him from advancing the ball towards the net, making an easy pass or getting the ball from a teammate.

Midfielder:    The physically demanding position that provides a bridge between the defense and offense. Midfielders penetrate deeply into enemy territory on attack and must also be able to get back on defense when the opposition gets the ball. Midfielders may specialize as an attacker or defender. 

MLS:    Major League Soccer - the U.S. outdoor league that began play in the Spring of 1995.

NASL:    North American Soccer League - an outdoor league formed in the U.S. in 1967 that attracted great international players including Pele and huge audiences to the U.S. in the 1970s. It folded in 1985.

National team:    A team consisting of the best players in a country chosen to represent it in international competitions such as the World Cup.

Near post:    The goalpost closest to the ball.

Nutmeg:    A pass in which the offensive player kicks the ball between the legs of an opponents. Also called a tunnel pass. 

Obstruction:    A foul caused by preventing an opponent from playing the ball by blocking their path to the ball. Results in an indirect free kick.

Officials:    Consists of a referee and 2 linesmen. The referee is the only one that carries a whistle and keeps the official time of the match.

Offside:    An infraction of the rules in which an offensive player does not have at least two defensemen (including the goalie) between them and the goal line when the ball is played forward by a member the offensive team.

Offside position:    An attacking player positioned so that fewer than 2 opposing defensive players (usually the goalie and 1 other defender) are between him and the goal he is attacking; a player is not offside if he is exactly even with one or both of these defensive players.

On-side:    The opposite of offside.

Outlet passes:    When a goaltender or defender passes the ball from close to his own goal toward the other team's goal; used to start a counterattack.

Outswinger:    A shot, pass or corner kick that curves away from the goal, as opposed to the inswinger, which is aimed for the front of the goal mouth. 

Overlap:    When a defender runs forward on the left or right side to become part of the attack. 

Overtime:    Extra time played after a match ends in a tie. In NH High Schools there are two ten minute sudden death periods of overtime. 

Own goal:    When a player accidentally kicks, heads or knocks the ball into her own goal. The point is awarded to the offensive team.

Pass:    How a player gets the ball to a teammate, either kicking it or hitting it with her head. 

Penalty arc:    The half moon positioned at the top of the penalty area, exactly 10 yards from the penalty spot. Players must stand behind that arc when a player attempts a penalty kick. Also referred to as the "D". 

Penalty Kick:    A direct free kick awarded for a foul occuring in the penalty area. The ball is placed 12 yards from in front of the goal. Only the goalie and fouled player may be in the penalty area during the kick, but any player may play the ball once touched by the goalie.

Penalty Mark:    A ‘dot’ on the field that is 12 yards in front of the goal, equidistant to each goal post, or in other words, centered.

Penalty spot:    The small circle 12 yards from the goal from which a player attempts a penalty shot after a defensive foul in the penalty area. 

Pitch:    British term for a soccer field. 

Play on:    A term used by referees to indicate that no foul or stoppage is to be called; used by referees when applying the Advantage Rule.


Possession:    Control of the ball.

Professional foul:    A foul committed intentionally; used to prevent a scoring opportunity without incurring a penalty shot.

Punt:    When a goalkeeper kicks the ball high down field toward the opposing goal.

Quadruple Double:     a triple double with double-digits scored in 4 categories. 

Raspberry:     A bright red colored skin abrasion resulting from a hard slide (especially on astroturf)

Red Card:    Card held up by a referee indicating that a player has been ejected from the game.

Referee:    The chief official; he makes all final decisions, acts as timekeeper, calls all fouls and starts and stops play.

Rugby:    An offshoot from soccer started in the early 1800s; rugby players are allowed to pick up the ball with their hands and run with it, and also make full contact with each other whether going after the ball or not.

Save:    A block, catch, deflection or parry by a goalkeeper of a shot that otherwise would have gone into the net. 

Screening:    Also called Shielding. A technique where a controlling player keeps their body between the ball and a marking opponent.

Set piece:    A planned play that a team uses when a game is restarted with a free kick, penalty kick, corner kick, goal kick, throw in or kickoff.

Shielding:    A technique used by a ball carrier to protect the ball from a defender closely marking him; the ball carrier keeps his body between the ball and the defender.

Shinguards:    Pads that strap onto a player's lower leg to protect the shins should he or she be kicked there.

Shot at goal:    A shot that fails to go into the net because it was wide left or right or over the crossbar. 

Shot on goal:    A shot that would have gone into the net if the goalkeeper had not saved it.

Slide Tackle:    A technique of tackling (stealing) the ball from a dribbler by making contact with the ball while sliding on the turf. May be outlawed in youth leagues.

Square pass:    A pass made by a player to a teammate running alongside him.

Stopper:    The defender that marks the best scorer on the attacking team, often the opposition's striker; exists only in a man to man defense.

Striker:    A team's most powerful and best scoring forward who plays towards the center of the field.

Substitution:    Replacement of one player on the field with another player not on the field; FIFA rules allow only 3 substitutions per game.

Sudden death (also called Golden Goal):    A type of overtime where the first goal scored by a team ends the game and gives that team the victory.

Sweeper:    A defender the roams the defensive zone between the fullbacks and the goalie.

Tackle:    To take the ball away from a dribbler using the feet.

Through Pass:    A passed ball that splits a pair of defenders.

Throw-In:    A technique returning the ball in play when it leaves the field over the touchlines. The player must have both hands on the ball, throw over his head while keeping both feet on the ground.

Touchlines:    Also called sidelines. The two lines marking the boundaries of the longest part of the field.

Trap or Trapping:    To receive the ball in a controlled manner with any part of the body. Usually trapped with the foot, thigh or chest 

Unsportsmanlike behavior:    Conduct such as kicking a player when she's down, arguing with a referee or spitting on a opponent, or throwing off his shirt after leaving the game. 

U.S. Soccer:    The commonly used name for the United States Soccer Federation, which administers soccer in the United States. It's based in Chicago, Illinois. 

U.S. Youth Soccer Association:    The governing and sanctioning body of youth soccer. It's a division of U.S. Soccer. 

USSF:    United States Soccer Federation - organization formed in 1913 to govern soccer in America; America's link to FIFA, providing soccer rules and guidelines to players, referees and spectators nationwide.

Volley:    Kicking the ball in or out of mid-air.

Wall:    A group of defenders standing near shoulder to shoulder in attempt to defend a free kick near the goal.

Wall pass:    A pass by a ball carrier who sends the ball to a teammate, then runs behind his own defender and quickly receives a pass back; used to get a player past his defender without having to dribble by him; same as the "give and go" in basketball.

Wings or wingers:    The outside forwards who play to the sides of the strikers and whose primary task is to provide them with accurate crossing passes so they can shoot at the goal; often the fastest players and best dribblers on a team.

W-League:    The top league for amateur women in the United States. It's a part of the United Soccer League. Women's World Cup:    The world championship for women, started in 1991 and played every four years. The U.S. won the 1991 and 1999 titles, and Norway captured the 1995 crown. Germany won in 2003.

World Cup:    The international soccer competition held by FIFA every 4 years between the top professional teams in the world, pitting nation against nation; the most watched event in the world, attracting a television audience of over 3 billion viewers.

Yellow Card:    A card held up by the referee that warns a player that any further misconduct will result in their ejection from the game.

Zone:     a type of defense that assigns each defender to a particular area in front of or around their team's goal in which they are responsible for marking any attacker that enters; often used in youth league games but rarely in professional competition. See also Zonal Defense and Zone Marking.

Zonal Defense:    defensive tactic where the defensive players are assigned specific zones of the field and are expected to defend against the the players of the attacking team when they are in that zone. This may often mean that the defender has more than one attacker to defend against, as occurs when the attacking team floods the zone. See also Zone and Zone Marking.

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. See also Zone and Zone Defense.

what is soccer mom?
An American mother living in the suburbs whose time is often spent transporting her children from one athletic activity or event to another.

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