317 Common Soccer Terms, Lingo, Jargon, and Slang

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Whether you actively play soccer or you’re an avid soccer fan that watches the game from the sidelines or TV, you likely know that there is a lot of terminology that is associated with the sport. Additionally, there are both English and British phrases used when referring to various things in soccer.

A-Z List of Soccer Terms and Lingo

From universal words like “goal,” to unique phrases like “park the bus,” soccer lingo and jargon is very common to hear throughout a game. Some soccer slang is easy to understand, and others may leave you scratching your head and quickly Googling the phrase to understand what was just said.

I’ve created a comprehensive soccer glossary of terms and lingo to help you understand what players, coaches, referees, commentators, and fans of the game are actually saying.

Soccer ball in the middle of the field


  • 10-man: This refers to a team losing one of their players and going from 11 men down to 10 men. This could happen from a straight red card, two yellow cards that accumulate to a red card, or an injury with no substitute available. In these situations, the team would be referred to as “10-man X”.
  • 40 points: A somewhat mythical number of points needed to stay up in the Premier League for the next season. While this number has been roughly assumed to provide safety for a team, in reality it changes every year, and is often a bit lower. However, 40 points represents a total that a team can assume they will be safe and not get relegated.


  • Added time: Each half of soccer is given 45 minutes, but there is almost always “added time”, which is extra time at the end of a half to account for injuries, delays, and even water breaks. Sometimes this is referred to as “injury time”. Keep in mind – added time is given because in soccer, the clock never stops. So, added time was introduced to make up for this feature.
  • Advantage rule: When a foul occurs in soccer, the referee does not have to stop play and give a free kick. As a matter of fact, if the team that the fall occurred against still maintains an “advantage”, then the ref is encouraged to let play continue on. You’ll see a ref play the advantage rule when a foul occurs but, instead of blowing his whistle, he’ll extend both arms out as a sign. Now, if the team loses this advantage quickly, the referee can go back and award the free kick. The ref can also go back after the play is stopped to give a yellow or red card for the foul, even though advantage was given.
  • Adverts: The British way of saying commercials. And, for the record, there are a LOT fewer of these in soccer than there are in other common American sports like the NFL. There are no commercial breaks during each half of soccer.
  • Against the run of play: The run of play is best interpreted as “the way the game is going.” In other words, if one team is dominating, then they would be dictating the run of play. And, if the other team were to score (surprisingly so), then they would have scored “against the run of play.”
  • Aggregate score: Oh my, this can be a bit confusing. In tournaments such as the Champions League, some fixtures are determined by an aggregate score, rather than a single game score or knockout setting. In aggregate score, teams play each other twice, once at each teams home. This amounts to a total of 180 minutes of soccer (90 minutes per game), and the total score of the 180 minutes would be the aggregate score – winner goes on. In the event of a tie, the tiebreaker is usually the team that scores the most away goals. A bit random, but it actually works really well. This tie breaker is usually referred to as the “away goals rule.” In the event that away goals are even, the tournament typically goes to an overtime period and then shootouts.
  • All over the place: Not a complimentary term, it means that a soccer team is playing disorganized, frenetic, and not well. You might use this term if your team was giving the ball away, making bad passes, and unable to hold possession.
  • Angle of run: This term is pretty much how it sounds. Players make “runs”, which are sprints in a certain direction, usually in attempt to get open and receive the ball. The angle of the run is just that – the angle that the player chose to open up and run into open space.
  • Angle of the pass: Similar to the angle of run, the angle of the pass is the way the pass is given to a player, as it relates to the space they are in and how they are stacked up against the opposing team’s players.
  • Angles: When just the word angles is used, you’ll typically find it referring to how a goalkeeper lines up for a shoot, with the effort being to cut down the angle. As a forward drives in near the goal, they are trying to find a good angle – in other words, a bigger area of the goal that is open for them to shoot into.
  • Appearance: Whenever a soccer player steps onto the field during a game, it is counted as an appearance. You’ll hear this term used for both club, country, and club and country.
Two men playing soccer
  • Assist: An assist refers to the person who provided the ball to the goal scorer. If player A passes to player B, and player B scores, then player A gets credited with an assist.
  • At sixes and sevens: Somewhat similar to terms like “all over the place”, this refers to a team that is playing poorly and with no rhythm.
  • At the back: This refers to a team’s defensive back line, or defense. The defenders typically line up in a straight line across the back, and are referred to as the back of a defense.
  • Attacker: Synonymous with a forward or striker, an attacker is a player on the soccer field who is tasked with attacking the opposition. In essence, it is a player who’s job is to score or create scoring opportunities.
  • Away to: Another way of saying this would be “on the road.” A visiting team, or the away team, is commonly referred to as away to. “Atletico Madrid is away to Barcelona on Saturday.”


  • Back four: Once again referring to defense, a back four refers to the four defenders that are playing. It is a formational reference and is a common defensive line which typically comprises two center forwards and two fullbacks. Another type of defense that is commonly used is a Back Three.
  • Back heel: Kicking a ball with the back of your heel, rather than with other parts of your foot. This is typically a pretty flashy move, and usually gets a couple “ahhhhs” from the crowd.
  • Back pass: A specific type of pass that a player makes that is directionally oriented back towards their own goal. Most often, players pass the ball forwards towards the opposing goal. Occasionally, though, a player will make a back pass, usually to restart play and reset.
  • Back room: The back room is the staff that makes up a team, such as a general manager, director of player personnel, etc. In American sports, this is often referred to as the Front Office.
  • Back three: A defensive formation that refers to the three defenders making up the back line. Typically you’ll have one central back and two outside fullbacks.
  • Ball: This is used in a number of different situations. Obviously, it refers to the soccer ball that is used on the field. However, it is also used as a descriptor, such as “What a great ball just played by Messi!”
  • Ball carrier: The carrier of the ball is the one dribbling or possessing it. Technically, they aren’t carrying it because they can’t use their hands, but you get the point.
  • Ball watching: When a player is caught ball watching, it means that they got beat by the opposing player, specifically because they weren’t anticipating their next move, or didn’t react quick enough. In essence, the term mimics what a fan would be doing (watching the ball) rather than actually playing the ball.
  • Bending the ball: This might harken memories of the popular movie “Bend it Like Beckham”, which is a shout out to the way that David Beckham would take free kicks. His approach was to “bend the ball” around the wall, allowing it to curve into the goal on the other side. The term “bending” basically stands for curving the ball, whether on a shot or free kick.
  • Bicycle kick: Truely a dramatic kick, this is typically done close to goal by a player trying to score. It is only used in certain specific situations, and is extremely acrobatic and difficult. When the ball is played behind the attacker, rather than attempting to settle the ball and turn back towards the goal, the player will attempt to shoot the ball in midair, while backwards, with their foot connecting with the ball above their own head. This is done by jumping and flipping their legs above their head, striking the ball in one fluid motion to shoot the ball into the back of the net. Often inaccurate, this results in the player landing in a heap on the field, while also being somewhat dangerous for any surrounding defenders. However, when done properly, it is a wonderful way to score a goal.
  • Big Sam: The nickname for Sam Allardyce, a popular Premier League Manager. Big Sam has managed Blackpool, Notts County, Bolton, Newcastle, Blackburn, West Ham, Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Everton, and even had a short stint with the England National team.
  • Blind side: This makes reference to the part of the field opposite of where the ball is. So, if the ball is on the left side of the field, playing it to the blind side would be switching it across to the right side.
  • Block tackle: This style of tackle is not from the side, but straight to the front. As such, it often results in blocking the player from going forward on the field, whether or not the tackler actually gets any of the ball. It can often be strong and dangerous too.
  • Boots: A nickname for soccer cleats. A players “boots” are his or her shoes that are worn for playing soccer.
  • Box: This refers to the large box that extends around the goal. Not to be confused with the smaller one (Goal Box), the “box” is short for Penalty Box, and references the large box that extends 18 yards from the goal, and 44 yards in total width across the pitch. Inside the penalty box, a foul committed on the opposing team results in a penalty kick, rather than just a free kick from the spot.
  • Boxing Day: The day after Christmas, Boxing Day is a national holiday in England, and also a big soccer day. Along with Championship Sunday, it is the only other day that every team in the Premier League plays in one single day. Its also a great day as a fan.
  • Brace: No, this has nothing to do with a support device for your ankle or knee. When a player scores two goals in a game, you would refer to it as a brace. You would not use this term to describe a team scoring two goals – just a player scoring two goals.
  • Breakaway: A quick counter attack by a team on the opposing goal. A counter attack could be made by one single player or by an entire team. It refers to the quick and fast attack that occurs following being on defense.
  • Bright: A slang term referencing fun, entertaining, electric, or positive play. You’ll hear an announcer or pundit refer to a team’s play as “bright.”
  • Busby Babes: A throwback to the Manchester United team from the 1950’s era when Matt Busby was manager. Comprised of young English talent, unfortunately they are most remembered for losing eight players in the Munich Air Disaster of 1958.


  • Call: Talking with a fellow player on the field.
  • Cap: I talked earlier about how an appearance is the same as a game played. A cap is an appearance for your national team. Back in the day, you would actually be given a ball cap for every appearance for your country. Nowadays the term has stuck, even though no one receives an actual cap anymore.
  • Capitulation: You’ll only hear this term referenced in the English Premier League – it means complete and utter failure and collapse in a game. When a team capitulates, it basically signifies that it got destroyed on the pitch.
  • Center spot: The center spot is the dead center of the field, marked by a dot with a circle around it. It is where the ball is kicked off from.
  • Centering kick: Any kick or punt that brings the ball back towards the center of the field. You’ll hear this term used a lot when a winger is bringing the ball down from the site of the field, and puts a cross into the center area.
  • Challenge: The term used to refer to an attempt to stop a player from progressing, whether through a slide tackle, or stealing the ball.
  • Champions League: Perhaps the biggest yearly tournament, this is played with the best club teams from all of Europe. Similar to the World Cup in many ways, except this is played with club teams (think Manchester United) rather than countries (think England). It is played every year, starting in September and ending in May, rather than every 4 years (like the World Cup). There is a ton of funding in the Champions League, and provides great exposure for players to be seen by big clubs (and get their next big contract).
  • Chance: An attempt on goal, whether taken or not. A “chance” can be used to describe a shot on goal that didn’t go in, or for a wasted opportunity on goal that was never actually taken.
  • Channels: A little confusing, the term channels really boils down the space that is created between different players on the field. Usually it is referred to as a vertical channel, such as the distance between fullbacks and their corresponding center back, or a horizontal channel, such as the distance between a halfback and forward.
  • Cheat: Pretty much exactly how it sounds. A cheat in soccer is probably best related to someone who takes a dive to attract a penalty, but it could also be used to describe a player who is time wasting, faking injury, or begging for fouls.
  • Chip: If you know golf, a soccer chip is similar to a chip in golf. It is a short pass that is lofted through the air. Sometimes also called a “dink”, this pass is meant to go over top of a defender, but not extend very far down the field. Perhaps its best called a light, airy pass.
  • City: This can sound odd, but in soccer, it is a shortened term that refers to Manchester City.
  • Class: A player who has class is really good. They are skillful in one or all areas of soccer. They are fun to watch play. Another term often used in the same vein is “easy on the eyes.”
  • Class of 92: Referring to the six players who debuted for Manchester United in 1992: David Beckham, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, and Paul Scholes. All six of these players came up through the youth academy at the club, and propelled the club to many of their historic runs during this decade.
Two soccer players colliding
  • Clattered: A collision on the field. Can also be called a “coming together.” It can also be used to refer to a clumsy player who collides with others a lot.
  • Clean sheet: A shutout – a game played where the team didn’t allow a goal. A “clean sheet” can be discussed in terms of a team or a goalkeeper. In essence, a goalie gets to own the clean sheet, even though it was an entire team effort. At the end of the season in many leagues, the keeper with the most clean sheets is given an award.
  • Clear: Similar to clearing their lines, a clear is a kick of some sorts that gets the ball away from your own goal. When under pressure, this is often the easiest and most effective way to get the ball out of danger, with the aim being to regroup to make a better defensive stand. By definition, any kick that gets the ball out of the danger zone would be a clear, but it isn’t used to refer to a on-target pass that opens up your team for an attack.
  • Clear their lines: In essence, this just boils down to getting the ball out of your team’s final third of the field. It is all about getting the ball out of the danger zone, either through a pass or a big kick. It stems from the defense being referred to as the “backline” and clearing the ball away from this area.
  • Clearing kick: Same as a clear, except this is specifically a big boot out of your final third, rather than a clearing pass.
  • Clinical: The term giving to any action on the field that is done well. A pass, a shot, a cross – these can all be referred to as “clinical” when they are done to perfection.
  • Closing down: A defensive term used when a player needs to move closer to the advancing and attacking players on the other team. Defenses need to “close down” on attacking players to prevent them from having open shots on goal.
  • Commit: When a player gives of themselves wholly to a certain action. On defense, you are usually wanting the opposing player to “commit” to a certain move or direction so you can react. On offense, you might to “commit ” to a run so your teammate can pass the ball to you.
  • Comprehensive: All encompassing, complete, thorough. “Chelsea played to a complete, comprehensive 3-0 win.”
  • Confederation: The governing body, council, or organization that handles soccer for that particular area.
  • Control: Control can mean quite a few different things in soccer. When referring to the ball specifically, it means accurately and efficiently bringing a pass or kick into their possession. So, a player would “control” a long looping pass. Control can also be used in a more general sense, referring to a collection of these events regarding a player or team. Example: Chelsea is made up of players that have great “control”. Finally, control can be used to refer to game management, where a team can exact “control” of the game. Often, when a team is has a significant share of possession, they would have control of the game.
  • Corner flag: The soccer field has four corners, and each are marked by a flag. This flag can not be moved by a player and must remain in place throughout the game.
  • Corner kick: When the ball travels out of bounds over either end line, the result is a free kick, either awarded to the defending team or the attacking team. When the ball travels across the end line and was last touched by a defender, the attacking team is awarded a free kick from the corner flag on the side of the goal that the ball traveled out of bounds on. This free kick is usually taken with a long, looping ball into the penalty box, where attackers try to head the ball into goal. Corner kicks can be very dangerous, although the statistics are that only 1 in 30 corner kicks result in goals.
  • Counter attack: It is also referenced as a strategy, rather than just an act you can take. In essence, teams will play “counter attacking football”, which makes reference to their strategy of sitting back on defense and relying on a counter attack to score their goals.
  • Cover: In a general sense, defenders cover attacking players by getting close to them, not giving them an opportunity to have a lot of free space. In practice, this term is typically used to refer to a second defender providing assistance to another defender, usually to cover a prolific attacker.
  • Cover himself in glory: While this term is intended to be a compliment, following a good performance or great play, it is usually used sarcastically to refer to a situation where a player didn’t do well.
  • Cracker: Brilliant, outstanding, amazing. Whether its a goal scored or a really intense, exciting game, the term “cracker” means can’t miss football!
  • Cross: A cross is a pass made parallel to the end line, and is the opposite of playing the ball long down the field. Typically a cross is made from an outside winger position and into an attacking player in the penalty box, with the intend to score.
  • Cruel: This slang term could best be described as unlucky or unfortunate. For example, when a team has been controlling a game and leading through the entire match, but gives up a late goal that yields a tie, it could be referred to as a cruel scoreline for the dominating team. This term can also be used at times to allude to something not necessarily being as bad as it seemed. For example, if a game is tightly contested, but then one team puts a few goals away at the very end because both teams are pushing so hard, the scoreline might look like it was a dominating win for the time, but that would be a “cruel” scoreline.
  • Cup: A term that refers to a tournament, which results in one team winning. Typically, this winning team will go home with a large “cup” (or trophy) as a reward, which is why over the years the tournament itself has started to be referred to as a Cup.
Golden trophy beside soccer ball
  • Cup-tied: Every player can only play for one team per year in a Cup or Tournament (note: this rule was recently abolished for the Champions League Tournament). So, if a player starts the year on one team but moves during the year, they are not eligible to play with their new team in any tournament games that season. That player would be referred to as “cup-tied”
  • Cynical: Blatantly wrong, usually with malice or frustration tied to it. A cynical tackle would refer to a tackle in soccer that had unnecessary aggression or was overly harsh.


  • Dead ball: Any time play is stopped and the ball is no longer in play, it is referred to as dead ball. All free kicks, whether kickoffs, corner kicks, or penalties, are taken as dead ball kicks, as they start from a motionless position.
  • Decoy run: A decoy run is most often used tactically in the attacking third of the pitch, and is used by a player making a run to create a diversion, or move a defender out of a certain area of space.
  • Defender: A position on the field. A defender is the back line of players, who’s job is to cover attackers from the opposition to stop the opposing team from scoring.
  • Delivery: Delivery and service describe the act of kicking a ball to a player who is in a scoring position.
  • Derby: A rivalry game played between two teams from the same city.
  • Direct free kick: Typically said as a “direct kick”, this specific type of free kick mandates that the player taking the kick can be the only one to score. In other words, a deflection off of another person would not count as a goal. Direct kicks are fairly rare, only being awarded for purposeful, flagrant actions such as holding, spitting, or a purposeful handball.
  • Dive: When a player pretends to be fouled. Unfortunately, because of the value of a free kick or penalty, this has become all too common in soccer. In general, players “dive” quite a bit, with certain players developing a name for it (Neymar).
  • Do better: Just as it sounds – it means that a player should have done better in the specific situation. Whether it was scoring, defending, or goal keeping, you’ll hear this term used a lot.
  • Dodgy: A British term for poor, with a bend towards lacking effort or energy. A defender who doesn’t sprint back to defend his line might be referred to as a “dodgy effort”
  • Double: The term for when a team wins two titles in one season. It could refer to their domestic league and a cup, or multiple cuts. While not as common, it could also refer to beating a specific team twice in one year.
  • Draw: A draw is most often used to refer to a tie in a game, where two teams score the same number of goals. It is also used to refer to a schedule for a tournament and which teams will face each other, dating back to when matches were “drawn” out of a hat.
  • Dribbling: Soccer players dribble the ball to move around the field. Dribbling involves a light kick in front of themselves, meant to move the ball while simultaneously holding possession. Sometimes dribbling can be very complex, such as when a player is trying to move the ball in and around opposing players.
  • Dummy: The same as a decoy, this is when a player makes a run that is never really with the intention of receiving the ball. In essence, though, any move that is meant to throw the opposition off can be considered a dummy.


  • Early ball: Playing the ball to a player quickly, before the play has fully developed, would be referred to as an early ball. This is typically used in a high tempo style of soccer, where speed is an important aspect to exploit for scoring.
  • End stands: The section of stands that is behind either of the goals in a stadium.
  • Eyeballs out: A slang term to refer to going all out. There are some less PC versions of this also available to use.


  • FA: The Football Association. This is the association responsible for governing football (soccer) in England.
  • FA cup: The oldest national soccer tournament, the FA Cup is the tournament for the best club in English football. Dating back to 1871, literally nearly 1,000 professional teams compete to try and win the tournament. Bigger clubs join the tournament later on, but it is an amazing competition that pits English clubs of all sizes against each other, giving small teams the chance to host the biggest and best the Premier League has to offer.
  • Fair result: A fair result means that the game ended in a manner that fit the way it was played. When a team plays well and wins, that would be a fair result. Likewise, when two teams both play well and end in a draw, that would be a fair result.
  • Fakeover: A move in soccer where a player looks to be taking the ball from his own teammate, but just runs past him or her.
  • Far Post: A soccer goal has two posts and a cross bar. The far post is the post furthest from the player with the ball.
  • FC: FC stands for Football Club. This is a very common addition to a team’s name, which is often their city (but not always). Example: Liverpool Football Club, or Liverpool FC or LFC for short.
  • Feint: Deceptive in nature. For soccer, it refers to a type of move that deceives the opponent. In slang reference, different famous players have feints named in their honor.
  • Fergie time: In honor of Manchester United’s incredibly successful manager Sir Alex Ferguson, this phrase was used to describe the “added time” that Man U received while under the helm of Fergie. It always seemed to many that Ferguson had a way of getting a lot of additional stoppage time in games they were losing. Coincidentally (or not), his team’s routinely scored in added time, and the phrase became popular.
  • Festive period: In essence, this is the Christmas period of football games, lasting from early December through the first week of January. This time period is especially busy in England, while the rest of Europe takes a few weeks off over the holidays.
  • Field: The area that the soccer game is played on; also known as the pitch. The exact dimensions vary depending on the league you’re playing in, and even then, most leagues or tournaments don’t have exact specifications. Generally speaking, a field must be longer than it is wide, with most fields measuring between 100 yards – 120 yards long. The width is the subject of a lot of debate. Fields generally need at least 70 yards in width, with most being between 70 yards – 80 yards wide.
Soccer stadium in daytime
  • FIFA: The governing body for the game of soccer around the world. The acronym stands for Federation Internationale de Football Association and is based in Switzerland.
  • Fifty-fifty ball: When the soccer ball is not held in possession by any one team, and a player from each time is actively pursing an open ball, it is said to be a Fifty Fifty ball. Teams don’t want to “play 50/50 balls” because it is not a high likelihood of maintaining possession, and thus this term is also used sometimes to refer to poorly played soccer or bad passing by a specific team.
  • Fightback: Exactly as it sounds: fighting back to get into a game. Similar to a comeback or rally.
  • Finish: The act of scoring. This can be used in many different contexts. A team can “finish” off another team, which would be scoring a goal that basically eliminates the chance of a comeback. A player can have a great “finish”, which would be scoring a really nice goal. A player can also be a clinical “finisher”, which means that he or she is a good shooter.
  • First touch: The first time a player comes into contact with a ball that is played to them. The first touch could be the “touch” they take to control the ball, or it could be a one time pass or shot.
  • Fit: Free of injuries, healthy. In other words, able to play that day.
  • Fixture: A match or game. It can be a bit confusing, as often times the word fixture is used to describe a bracket of games in other sports. In soccer, it is a single game. In Europe, the home team is listed first (Barcelona vs Valencia), whereas in the USA the home team is listed second (Galaxy vs Timbers).
  • Flank: The outside portions of the field on either side. This is typically the area wingers and full backs occupy.
  • Flatter: A British term that is used to describe a game where the final score inaccurately characterizes the actual game play. In essence, when you see a lopsided scoreline, but in reality, the game was actually neck and neck, then the final score “flattered” the winning team.
  • Flatter to deceive: Another British term that plays off of “flatter”, this term is overall negative and refers to a player or team that starts off strong but then tapers off. While their play was flattering in the beginning, it ended up leading to false hope, which is where the term deceive comes in.
  • Flight: The path the soccer ball takes as it travels through the air.
  • Football: Outside of North America and Australia, this is the word the rest of the world uses for soccer.
  • Form: How well you are playing. This could refer to a team (“Chelsea are in great form, securing full points from the last 3 matches”) or to a player (Messi has found his form, netting 3 goals in his last 3 matches). In form, or having good form, is playing well.
  • Formation: The positions the players on a team take to start the game and throughout. This is always displayed in a series of numbers that add up to 10 players, which refers to the total number of players playing on the field (the goalie doesn’t count because they always stay in the same position). Further, the first number refers to the number of defenders, the next series of numbers refers to the midfielders, and the final number refers to the number of strikers. If you’re a bit confused at this point, you’re not alone! Example: 4-4-2. This formation is widely considered to be a standard soccer line up, and refers to 4 defenders (or fullbacks), 4 midfielders (or halfbacks), and 2 strikers (or forwards). It can get really confusing when you see a 4-1-2-1-2… sometimes referred to as a Diamond formation, this is 4 defenders, a holding midfielder, two regular midfielders, a classic #10 positional player as an attacking midfielder, and two strikers.
  • Fortress: Refers to a team’s home grounds, and is used to describe a strong home field advantage. A team’s home ground would be considered a fortress if they play well at home and they are hard to beat on their grounds.
  • Foul: Similar to other sports like basketball, a foul is an illegal play. In soccer, the result is usually a dead ball free kick.
  • Free kick: A dead ball kick that a team is awarded, typically because a foul against them was committed. Play is stopped and the free kick is given for the team to take as they want, within a set amount of time dictated by the referee. If awarded in the opposing team’s final third, they can be dangerous and often lead to a goal. You’ll often hear the term “set piece”, which refers to any dead ball kick taken, of which a free kick is one of them.
  • From nothing: Out of nowhere, unexpected. When a team is playing really poorly and getting pushed back consistently into defense, a subsequent goal that they score would be considered to come “from nothing.”
  • Full time: The completion and end of a match or game. This is the equivalent of a game being finished, and is reflected with the acronym FT (full time).
  • Full value: Exactly as it sounds, full value is to get what you paid for. This is often used as a evaluative term to reflectively evaluate if a player transfer was worth it.
  • Futsal: In essence, this is another version of indoor soccer. The biggest difference between indoor soccer is that futsal is played on a court surface, similar to a basketball court.


  • Gaffer: A term referring to the Manager of a team. For clarity, in America, I often refer to this same position as a Coach or Head Coach.
  • Geordie: Generally used to refer to a fan of Newcastle FC, a Premiere League team. In actuality, it is referencing fans from specific areas of the city of Newcastle, England, but that’s not the reference used in soccer.
  • Get into the game: As it sounds, it refers to a team of player starting to play better. To “get into the game” is to start playing up to potential. Sometimes a similar but slightly more endearing reference would be to “warm up to the game.”
  • Giant-killer: A small market team that beats a large club, typically doing so as the underdog.
  • Give and go: Involving two players, this is when one player plays a short pass to a teammate, and then makes a forward run, with the resulting teammate immediately passing the ball to the player on the run. It can also be referred to as a 1-2, since the players play to each other with single touches of the ball.
  • Goal: There are several meanings to this. By definition, the goal is the structure of posts and netting the make up the area that teams try to get the ball into. There are two goals on the field – one at either end lengthwise. The definition also refers to the act of getting the ball into the goal – in this case, you are scoring a goal.
  • Goal area: This is the smaller of the two boxes in front of the goal, outlined by a white line. Also referred to as the 6 yard box or the goal box, the goal area is mainly used to define the area that a goalie can take a goal kick from.
  • Goal kick: A dead ball free kick taken by the goalie from inside their goal box. A goal kick is awarded when to the team on defense if the ball crosses their endline, and the opposing team was the last to touch it.
  • Goal line: The white line that marks the front of each goal, and is the definitive marker for whether a ball is awarded as a goal. The ball has to fully cross the goal line in order to be a goal.
  • Goal mouth: The general area in front of the goal. When referring to the mouth, it isn’t a specific area but the general space, similar to the mouth of a river.
  • Goal return: The number of goals scored by a player in relation to the fee paid to acquire him. Its not an actual ratio that is used, but more of a conversation piece to evaluate if a team got what they paid for.
  • Goal side: Typically used to describe a defender’s positioning, it is the space between at attacking player, the ball, and the goal. Being “goal side” of a player means that you are between them (and the ball) and your own goal.
  • Goal tender: Synonymous with goalkeeper, keeper, and goalie. The person on the field who is charged with stopping the ball from going into the goal.
Goalkeeper catching soccer ball
  • Golazo: A brilliant goal that was scored.
  • Goalkeeper: The official soccer term for the position charged with stopping goals from being scored. This position has unique privileges and responsibilities, most notably as the only person on the field who can use their hands, provided it is done inside of the penalty box.
  • Going forward: Moving forward up the pitch is what a team does when it is on the attack. Thus, going forward could apply to a single player joining the attack, a collection of players, or the entire team.
  • Great escape: Avoiding relegation down to a lower league. This term comes into play at the end of the season, when the bottom-of-the-table teams are fighting to stay up. A great escape is staying up and avoiding relegation when it looked all but impossible.
  • Ground: Grounds are generally defined as the field, but it can also refer to the entire stadium and training fields in a location.
  • Guard: Similar to basketball when a defender guards the opposing player, a soccer player that is marking up against an opposing player is guarding them. They might or might not have the ball – you can guard a player who doesn’t have the ball. This might happen on a corner kick, where players guard others in attempt to keep them from getting the ball.
  • Gutted: Incredibly disappointed. This is a British term, and is used by players, managers, fans, and commentators alike.


  • Hair dryer: An innuendo to describe the stern lecture a poorly playing team will receive from their manager, either at half time or full time. Since your manager will be yelling a lot of hot air at your, the term hair dryer started being used.
  • Half volley: A controlled kick or upward stroke right after the ball has bounced off the ground or in front of a player.
  • Hand ball: An offense in soccer where a player intentionally handles the ball when in play to prevent an opponent from getting possession of the ball. The ‘hand’ pertains to any part of a player’s arm, from the shoulders right down to the tip of the fingers.
  • Harsh: An adjective that describes a decision you think is wrong. For example, a player bumps into an opponent, and the opponent falls down. The referee whistles the player for a foul. If you think the move is not a foul, you’d say the decision was harsh.
  • Hat trick: A hat trick is when a player scores three ‘flawless’ consecutive goals in one game without being interrupted by any other goal.
  • Head: A move in soccer where the player handles the ball with the forehead. Players can use it ao aim for clearance, a shot at goal, or a pass. The British use the general term ‘header’ for these three intentions while the Americans use ‘head-shot’ for a header intended to score.
  • Header: A move in soccer where the player uses the head to hit, control, or pass the ball.
  • High press: An attacking tactic by a team that defends high up the pitch to immediately apply pressure inside the opposition’s half. The forward players of a team normally use a high press to defend far away from goal. This move enables forwards to pressure opposing defenders and force mistakes to win the ball close to the goal.
  • Holders: A term to refer to the reigning or current cup champions. A winning team that holds the cup or title.
  • Hoof it: An old but direct way of attacking the defense by kicking the ball high and upfield. Defenders or goalkeepers make sure that the ball travels at least 40 yards in the air.
  • Hour mark: Soccer matches are 90 minutes long. However, there is no clock on the scoreboard that teams must obey. In fact, the time also depends upon the referee’s discretion. The hour mark is simply a term that refers to the 60th minute of the game where teams can make substitutions.
  • Howler: Not a flattering term. It describes the situation when the goalkeeper fails to save a pea roller, which is a goal at an extremely low and underwhelming velocity.


  • Impose themselves: This phrase is synonymous with foisting oneself, taking charge of, gaining control of, run the show, and call the shots. In soccer, it’s a motivational phrase for players to focus, get their act together, and improve their play.
  • In and out of play: A ball is inbounds as long as ANY part of it is inside the line that surrounds the entire field. So, part of a ball can go across the line and out of bounds, but it isn’t until the entire ball crosses the line that the ball is out of bounds. The same is true for the goal line. A player’s position bears nothing on whether a ball is in or out. In other words, a player can be standing out of bounds and touching the ball, but as long as the ball is in bounds, then it is fine. One other thing to note is that the ball does not have to touch the ground to be out of bounds – all it has to do is cross the line in completion to be out of bounds. You’ll see this when a ball is played in the air near the sidelines and a player will try to keep it in bounds with their chest or head. If the ball crosses the line (which can be tough to determine), it will be called out of bounds, even if it never touched the ground out of bounds.
  • Indirect free kick: A free kick awarded to a player for minor or technical infractions of the rules. The player gets to kick a stationary ball without any opposing players within 33 feet of him. However, another player must touch the ball to score a goal from this kick.
  • Injury time: This pertains to the time added to the end of any period. Often caused by an intentional stalling by a team or a player’s injuries. The additional time depends on the referee’s judgement.
  • Instep: Also known as the “laces”. The upper portion of the foot to the side of the shoelaces.
  • Inswinger: This type of cross refers to the curve of the ball as it moves towards the goal. This is a cross made towards a player near goal, and an inswinger refers to the curve of the ball bending towards the goal (rather than away from the goal). Most typically this is used to refer to a free kick (either corner kick or resulting from a foul) and is used for a right footed kick from the left side of the field, or a left footed kicker from the right side of the field.


  • Jockeying: This refers to the act of delaying or holding up the game. It involves a defender slowing down an attacker by faking tackles to try to disrupt the opponent’s move. A defender can also try to deny crosses to push the opponent into an error, which makes the attacker shoot or carry the ball over the goal line. This move gives other teammates time to recover and form a defensive position.
  • Jose Mourinho: For many people, Jose Mourinho is one of the greatest and most decorated managers of all time, having handled Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, and Manchester United. He is currently the manager of Premier League Club Tottenham Hotspur. Mourinho is one of the five coaches to have won the European Cup with two different clubs and bag the first FIFA World Coach of the Year award. The media tends to follow and report stories about Mourinho all the time.

Jose Mourinho’s Best Seasons

Chelsea 05/0629/4/5
Real Madrid 10/1129/5/4
Inter Milan 08/0925/9/4
Manchester United 17/1825/6/7


  • Kickoff: The method of starting the play of each game, as well as after each goal has been scored. Kickoffs also happen to restart the game after halftime. A player passes the ball forward to a teammate from the center spot, with opponents positioned at least 10 yards away from the ball in their half of the field.
  • Kit: Also called as uniform or strip. A kit is the standard attire and equipment worn by soccer players. Most teams have three kits: home, away, and third. The third kit does not match the colors of the first two kits.
  • Knock: In essence, a knock pertains to a small or impact injury caused by a player kicking another player’s leg that is not too serious. This is different from muscle injuries, such as a pull and twist.
Soccer player tackling opponent
  • Know about: When a shot taken that hits the post, but the goalkeeper wasn’t able to see it. Some would say that the goalkeeper didn’t know a thing about it and you were simply unlucky.
  • Kop: The name comes Spion Kop, which is a hillside where British soldiers fought in the Second Boer War of South Africa in 1900. In soccer, kop refers to the high bank of terracing or a significant section of seats behind a goal where the most hard-core fans/spectators usually stay.


  • Lad (bloke, mate, chap, bird): A term used to refer to a friendly man or a team. For example, “get behind the lads!” Mate is an informal term for a friend of the same sex. For instance, “that lad is my mate”. Bloke and chap are also British slang terms for men. Bird is a slang term for women.
  • Late tackle: An unfair challenge where a player tries to touch the ball after the opponent has passed it. It is a mistimed attempt to take the ball from an opposing player, which results in the tackler making contact with the player and not the ball.
  • League cup: This pertains to a cup competition only for teams in a particular league. It’s also a tournament that includes several teams from many levels of English football, although it is second rate to the FA Cup.
  • Leg: A term used to refer to a particular type of game. Some competitions require soccer teams to play twice to determine the winner. For instance, a League Cup semis will determine the winning team by the sum of the scores of two legs.
  • Let-off: To let someone off often means to get away from something, an escape from an expected consequence. For example, the opposing striker misses the goal while the defender falls down. This is a let-off for you and the defender.
  • Line (holding the): This is a defensive term in soccer where the defenders keep an imaginary line to catch opponents offside. It is a call that makes the defenders stay together on the same line and hold their position to let the forwards and midfielders press the ball. This move also lessens spaces between midfielders and defenders for the opposing team to exploit.
  • Line of recovery: This is the line or path a defender takes when retreating/running back towards his/her goal to get on the goal side of the ball. Once the defender is in the goal side of the ball, he/she must think about the recovery line, marking and challenging an opponent.
  • Linesman: This a former term for an assistant referee. A linesman monitors using a flag to tell the referee when an attacker is off-sides or the ball is out of play. The linesman also monitors the goal lines, as well as the sidelines for out-of-bounds foul plays.
  • Linked with: A term used by sportswriters when a player or coach joins a particular soccer team. For example, “Sean Longstaff has just been linked with Newcastle”.
  • Lofted pass: When attempting a long, lofted pass, a goalkeeper or defender must approach the ball at an angle and send the ball a long distance down the field directly to an attacking player, with the ball generally bypassing the midfield. A lofted pass will enable your team to exploit space behind the opponent’s defense or midfield. It aims to pass the ball over an opponent or a number of opponents.
  • Long ball: A long ball is an attempt to move the ball a long distance down the field using one long aerial kick from either a goalkeeper or a defender directly to an attacking player. This move usually bypasses the midfield.


  • Man manager: Not a commendatory term, yet denotes that the coach can handle the players’ egos very well.
  • Man to man marking: A defensive system where defenders are assigned to mark or track a player of the offensive team continuously.
  • Mark: A defensive action where a player guards an opponent one-on-one to prevent the opponent from receiving the ball or moving toward the goal. It is also a position that shadows the opponent to keep the opponent from making an easy pass.
  • Massive: A British term to describe a huge game.
  • Master class: Another way of saying a really good or admirable shot. It can also mean a team’s excellent play that they can teach the opposing team how to play soccer.
  • Match: A soccer game.
  • Mental: An informal British expression when a person suddenly becomes extremely angry or mad. In soccer, when fans completely lose it in a game or celebration.
  • Merseyside: A term for Liverpool, which is a metropolitan county on the side of the River Mersey. Hence, the Merseyside derby refers to football matches between Liverpool and Everton, two major English clubs from Liverpool, Merseyside. Tranmere is also a football club in Merseyside.
  • Midfielder: A player who functions primarily in the center third of the field intending to link the defense and the attack through passing and ball control. A midfielder may also break up attacks, which makes them known as defensive midfielders. The midfielder also positions behind the forwards to make passes between the forwards and fullbacks.
  • Missile: This pertains to anything thrown from the stands onto the pitch. Spectators tend to bring in foreign objects to throw from the stands. This is often a move to insult players, protest, or show distaste to players or managers. Some of the common things thrown to the field include cabbages, caveat, pie, bottles, toilet paper, towels, and tennis balls. Fans who throw missiles tend to face a ban.
  • MOTD/Match of the day: A BBC program every Saturday night that discusses and analyzes highlights games of the Premier League season. Since its inception in 1964, the show has been using a selection of BBC and freelance commentators to comment on every team in the league.


  • National team: An all-star team that represents a country or nation in different international tournaments, including the under-20 World Cup, World Cup, and Olympic Games. The national team includes the best players in a country, regardless of their club or team. Clubs release the players for the necessary period of the tournament, from the assembling of games and up to actual games. All soccer teams have a full-time national coach. Some teams do not release their players for exhibition games to avoid the risk of injury.
  • Near Post: A soccer goal has two posts and a crossbar. The near post is the post closest to the player with the ball.
  • Nearpost: The goalpost closer to the ball position. The goalpost that is closest to the ball when it is kicked towards the goal.
  • Nil: It comes from the Latin word “Nihil”, which means “nothing”. Nil is used instead of saying “zero” when talking about scores. For example, the final score was twelve-nil.
  • Numbers: Numbers are used to refer to a player’s position. If your team gets the ball and heads upfield with six players instead of two, your team’s numbers are going forward.


  • Obstruction: When a defensive player uses his or her body to block an offensive player from playing the ball. When a defensive player blocks an opponent using his or her body, that player gets penalized by awarding an indirect free kick to the opposite team.
  • Off the ball: A term used in soccer to describe when a player’s not in possession of the ball, such as a late challenge or a fight.
  • Off the line: Off the line describes a player or keeper who moves from a wide area into central areas to receive the ball. If the player misses it, the defender on the goal line can clear it “off the line or touchline”. An off the line move lets a player receive a pass to feet, receive a pass behind the fence, or create space on the outside for a teammate.
  • Offside: A player is in an offside position if he receives a pass from an attacker resulting in a foul. This is also the case if the player’s body, except the arms and hands, is in the opponents’ half of the pitch, or nearer to his opponent’s goal line than both the ball and the second-to-last opponent. An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team at the place where the offside occurred.
  • Offside trap: A defensive technique used by players to put offensive players in an offside position. Defenders will move quickly away from their own goal to leave their opponents offside. This soccer technique is usually used on restarts. A sweeper calls out a ‘trap’ as a signal for the fullbacks to pull up past the attackers as soon as the attackers put the ball into play.
Soccer player aiming for the goal
  • On frame: At the goal; on goal; on target; a shot which will enter the goal if nothing stops it.
  • On the bounce: Another term for “in a row” or “consecutive”. It means a soccer team is winning three games in a row or on the bounce.
  • On the front foot: When a soccer team is playing well against their opponents, they are on the front foot while their opponents are under pressure or on the back foot. If a team is on the front foot, they are on the momentum to get the winning goal.
  • One-touch soccer: An inter-passing among teammates without stopping the ball. A team’s players move the ball quickly and immediately once they receive it.
  • One two: Involving two players, this is when one player plays a short pass to a teammate, and then makes a forward run, with the other teammate immediately passing the ball to the player on the run. Players often use it to get past an opposing player in a triangular movement.
  • One-touch pass: A soccer move that involves shooting or passing the ball with one touch rather than dribbling or trapping the ball first.
  • Open play: Opposite of set-piece. The situation where the ball is returned to open play and players can score a goal.
  • Open up: Describes the situation where a game begins to flow after it has been bogged down. It also refers to turning slightly away from the direction of an approaching ball, which one is about to receive. In this way, the player can improve his or her vision of the field of play.
  • Outswinger: This type of cross-refers to the curve of the ball as it moves towards the goal. This is a cross made towards a player near the goal, and an outswinger refers to the curve of the ball bending away from the goal (rather than towards from the goal). Most typically this is used to refer to a free kick (either corner kick or resulting from a foul) and is used for a left-footed kick from the right side of the field, or a right-footed kicker from the left side of the field.
  • Overrun: This describes the situation where the opposing team’s midfielders are pressuring your team’s midfielders. It also refers to your team’s midfielders losing their momentum against the opponents.
  • Own goal: It’s possible for a player to accidentally deflect head, or kick the ball into his own goal, own team’s net, or own playing area. When this happens, the score is added to the opponent’s score. It’s an embarrassing blunder for the scoring player, with the scorer listed with the letters “o.g.” after his name.


  • Pace: This refers to the speed of the ball or a player. The speed at which the game is played.
  • Park the bus: A term coined by Jose Mourinho during a game between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur in 2004. It means setting all players on a team play defensively, intending to defend a narrow margin or draw the game. It also involves tiring out the opponents and preserve the clean sheet. The goal is to protect a 1-goal lead or go for a 0-0 draw by defending a narrow lead or occasional defensive play.
  • Pass: A play, strike, or kick of the ball using the chest, thighs, or head to transfer possession of the ball to a teammate. A passing involves moving the ball closer to the opposing goal and prevent the opposing team from getting the ball or score.
  • Pearler: A pearl is a precious stone. In soccer, this a pearler refers to a beautifully-struck shot or a good goal that is too precious.
  • Pegged back: This involves a team coming back from a losing position to draw level. When the opposing team equalizes, your team has been pegged back. For instance, an underdog team may be losing 1-0, but then they score to make it 1-1 or even make a shocking lead. It’s like the opposing team has clawed themselves back into the game.
  • Penalty: The term penalty only refers to a foul that results in the awarding of a penalty kick. It usually happens when a foul has been committed inside the penalty area in front of the goal. You must not use the word penalty with any other offense or free-kick situation.
  • Penalty area: The marked rectangular area, 44-yards wide and 18-yards deep, situated alongside the goal line. The goalkeeper may handle, control, or block the ball within this box.
  • Penalty spot: The small circular marked spot located 12 yards in front of the center of the goal line from which all penalty kicks happen. It’s also at the center of the penalty arc.
  • Penetration: A phase of play where a soccer team looks to break through the opponent’s defense using a neutral player. A player can do it by searching for splits behind the opponent’s backline.
  • Period: A segment of the total soccer game time. Games last two halves. Some people call these halves “periods”.
  • Physio: A physio treats a player who gets hurt. Also called a trainer, a physio conducts assessment before a game to see whether a player is fit to play.
  • Pitch: An English word for a sports field. It’s the green turf where teams play soccer games.
Two soccer players fighting for ball
  • Play maker: A designated player who controls the flow of the team’s offensive play. The playmaker uses his or her excellent passing ability, ball control, technique, and good vision, to create opportunities, make goals, and open defense lines.
  • Play on the break: In soccer, this involves counter-attacking the other team immediately after defending for a long period. A team will remain in defense and then wait for an opportunity to play on the break.
  • Premier: This simply refers to the name of the top league, the Premier League.
  • Promotion: Promotion means a team moves up a division. It’s the opposite of relegation. Promotion to higher leagues may happen after finishing in the top league spots. The top clubs in each lower division go to the division above. Hence, each division features two competitions: one at the top to decide the championship and promotion places, the other at the bottom to avoid relegation.
  • Proper: This refers to a real round of a Cup tournament. For example, the First Round Proper of the FA Cup or the Fourth Round Proper of the Emirates FA Cup. It has nothing to do with qualifying rounds.
  • Pulsating: In soccer, pulsating means an entertaining and exciting game. For example, Tottenham defeated Newcastle in a pulsating clash.
  • Punt: A distribution technique used by goalkeepers to clear the ball upfield by dropping the ball from the hands. The goalie will then kick the ball before it touches the ground. This is also a half-volley. The downside is that the ball remains in the air too long, enabling the opposing team to cover the intended receiver. It may also be difficult for the receiver to control the ball because of the descent’s speed. A punt may also serve as the first play of a transition into the offense.
  • Put in a shift: The phrase “put in a shift” often describes a player who puts too much effort into a game. For example: “the manager has praised his team’s rookies for putting in a good shift.” Some sportswriters, managers, and commentators also use the phrase to highlight a player who didn’t put a shift in or didn’t try hard enough for the team. For instance: “the team put in a shift, but it still wasn’t enough to bag the championship title.”


  • Questions: Another term for skills and quality.


  • Ran out: A term referring to a team finishing a game with the lead. For example: “Barcelona ran out 2-1 winners over Real Madrid at Camp Nou.”
  • Receiving: A soccer technique done by players to control an incoming ball or pass from a teammate. It’s an act of getting the ball from a pass or an interception. The receiver will control the ball and then set it up in a proper position for the performance of the next skill.
  • Red card: A playing card-sized card that a referee holds up to signal the immediate expulsion of a player from the game. It serves as a disciplinary action after a player gets two yellow cards for misconduct or violent play. This action leaves his team short a player for the remainder of the game because the coach cannot replace this player.
Soccer referee raising flag
  • Referee: The person who is in charge of the game. He or she controls the match and can hand out yellow and red cards to ill-disciplined players. A referee is the chief official who acts as a timekeeper, calls all fouls, starts and stops play, and makes all final decisions. This is the person who has the authority to enforce the Laws of the Game in connection with the match to which he has been appointed. This includes the power to call fouls and eject players from a game. The referee also gives consent regarding a player’s entry and exit on the field.
  • Relegation: This happens when a team has to move down a division because of poor results. The clubs in the bottom two or three spots on the table are usually in the “relegation zone”.
  • Results: Another term for scores or final scores. It also includes the scorers, half-time results, and live scores.
  • Running with the ball: The player maximizes the space by carrying the ball efficiently and quickly across long distances. It allows the player to maintain possession of the ball while assessing options before crossing or passing.


  • Sacked: This term is synonymous with fired, lay off, and dismiss. For example: “the manager has been sacked after a winless season.”
  • Save: The act of a goalkeeper in blocking, stopping, or intercepting a shot that would have gone into the goal.
  • Scissor kick: One of the most impressive moves in soccer that require poise, athleticism, and concentration. It involves a player kicking the ball, which is waist high or a little more above. The player must align himself horizontally to make a scissor kick mid-air.
  • Scoreline: This refers to the game’s score. In soccer, it’s typical to put the name of the home team first, even if the home team lost. For example, a scoreline of AC Milan 3 Barcelona 2 means that AC Milan won and that the game was held in Milan. A scoreline of West Ham 0 Lazio 1 indicates an away win for Lazio.
  • Sent off: A situation where a player gets a red card. A referee will instruct the player/s to leave the field because they have broken the rules in a serious way.
  • Service: To pass the ball; also used to describe whether or not the strikers/attackers are getting quality balls played into them.
  • Set piece: A set piece refers to a moment in the game when the play has stopped (or stoppage), and the ball returns to open play. This also pertains to free kicks and corners kicks. This position may lead to direct or indirect goals, which is why defenders must defend set-pieces.
  • Shambolic: A British word for disorderly, unorganized, or chaotic. In soccer, this may describe a defense that is all over the place or disorganized.
  • Shielding: A technique used in soccer to keep possession and control of the ball. It involves a player using his body to protect the ball from the opponent who is attempting possession of the ball. This is also called “screening”.
  • Shocking: A British expression in soccer about an awful yet unsurprising move or tactic.
  • Shot: An attempt to score into the opponent’s goal. A player will head or kick a ball at the opposing team’s net in an attempt to score a goal.
  • Show: The ball carrier uses clear body communication to let the receiver know he or she is available to pass or receive the ball.
  • Shutout: The goalkeeper prevents any shots from entering the net during a game. This move results in 0 points scored by the opposing team.
  • Side: Another term for “team”, as in “your side”.
  • Sidelines: The sidelines are the white or colored lines that mark the outer boundaries of a soccer pitch. The lines run parallel to each other and perpendicular to the goal lines. The sidelines, also called touchlines, are also where the coaching staff and players out of play operate during a game.
  • Silverware: In English football, silverware is any of the cup trophies or the championship trophies awarded for winning one of the leagues. It can also include European trophies such as the UEFA Cup or the UEFA Champions League. The most famous are made from sterling 925 silver. This is why players and fans talk about winning silverware. For example, the two FA Cup finalists are hoping to bag some silverware.
  • Sitter: A term used to explain a situation where a player has missed a huge chance to score, especially in front of the goal. For instance, the player missed a sitter in the final of the FA Cup.
  • Sliding tackle: A player tries to gain possession of the ball by sliding into the ball feet first. It’s a baseball-type slide where a player goes to the ground and uses an extended leg to dispose of the ball from a ball carrier.
  • Small matter: An English understatement that refers to an important matter. In soccer, it could mean there’s a full schedule of games this weekend, including the small matter of the Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park.
  • Soccer: The American term for football.
  • Soft: A derogatory term that means weak, flimsy, or powerless. For example, “a soft penalty” or “a soft passing”.
  • Space: A term which means “being unmarked”. It also means a player is getting into space. Soccer games are won by taking advantage of space. With good ball control, players can move into space and execute a play.
  • Special one: In a press conference in 2004, when he moved to Chelsea, Jose Mourinho commented that “I’m a European champion and I think I’m a special one”. This statement resulted in the media dubbing him “The Special One”.
  • Spot kick: Also referred to as the “penalty kick”; a direct free kick made by a player from the penalty spot against his opponent’s goalie.
  • Spurs: Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, commonly referred to as Tottenham or Spurs, is an English professional football club in Tottenham, London, that competes in the Premier League.
  • Square ball: This is a move where the players pass the ball between their teammates laterally, or side-to-side. The player doesn’t kick or pass it forward and backward, but rather laterally. A pass played square is perpendicular to the touchline or parallel to the goal line. For example, Liverpool is playing square ball with each other to preserve their lead.
  • Statistics: A record that includes how many shots on a goal, the number of saves, penalty kicks, and the like. Some teams keep a record of the percentage of points picked up in home games by the home team so far this season in the current league competition. Fans, commentators, teams, and sportswriters also use statistics to monitor league tables and result in analysis on national and international soccer tournaments.
  • Steward: A person that serves as a security person or usher at a soccer game. One of its crucial roles is to secure a line of the section away from supporters for safety reasons. They also serve as safety stewards in the event of an evacuation or emergency.
  • Stick: A form of verbal abuse, criticism, or insult towards teams or officials. For example, “the players are receiving some stick from their fans”.
  • Stonewall: In soccer, a Stonewall penalty refers to an unambiguous foul in the penalty area. Stonewall is a type of wall used throughout Scottish highlands that are obvious. Hence, the prefix ‘Stonewall’ highlights the apparent nature of the incident. For example, a player has been hacked down at the waist by a flying scissor kick outside the six-yard box, but the ball was not touched. You would think that it was a stonewall penalty.
  • Stoppage time: Synonymous with time lost and injury time. It’s the time added on by the referee. For instance, Manchester United scored twice in stoppage time in the Champions League Final in 1999.
  • Stretching the play: This means making the field big and wide.
  • Strike: A term/move in soccer that involves an accurate and driven shot on the goal.
  • Striker: A position name given to a player in a central attacking position. A strong forward-positioned toward the center of the field. A player that finishes attacking plays by scoring a goal.
  • Support: Pretty much exactly as it sounds: collective support coming from the team and fans.
Soccer fan cheering for his team
  • Surplus to requirements: A formal British expression meaning “no longer needed”. In soccer, one could say that the player’s performance had become a surplus to requirements. In other words, the team no longer needs the player’s services.
  • Sweeper: A position name in soccer that usually refers to a central defender playing behind the stopper and wing fullbacks. The sweeper “sweeps up” loose through balls that are played in behind the other defenders. The sweeper also adds cover in defense, which is why the sweeper is a free player in defense. Although it has no specific marking duties, the sweeper is the last line of defense before the goalkeeper.
  • Sweeper keeper: During a World Cup match against Algeria, German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer played like a sweeper behind the defense. He came out of his penalty area on many occasions to stop Algerian counter attacks. He played like an extra outfield player at times, resulting in the coining of the phrase ‘sweeper-keeper’, a keeper that plays like a sweeper.
  • Switching play: When a team is on the attack, players must be alert to the chances of switching play or angle of offense.


  • Table: Another term for “team standings”. The table also shows the current team scores.
  • Tackle: A defensive tactic to take the ball away from the opponent using the feet. A legitimate shoulder charge may accompany a tackle, but there must be no holding, pushing, tripping, elbowing, or hip-checking. The best move is clean tackling, which is the ability to strip the ball from an opponent without fouling.
  • Tactical masterclass: A tactical masterclass refers to a manager who developed a great gameplan that led to the team’s victory. Sportswriters usually use this term for teams who created an efficient gameplan to win. Winning teams led by Jose Mourinho typically receive this term.
  • Tactics: A tactic is a conceptual action aiming at the achievement of a goal. The collective action includes the strategy, how the players stand or move on the field, pace, and formation.
  • Taking a player on: A move wherein a player who has the ball exploits space with the aim to go past a defending player efficiently and quickly.
  • Target man: The target man is a striker or attacker who is the intended target of passes from his teammates. The ideal target man is usually big and tall so that he could shield the ball well. They must have the strength to hold up the ball while holding off defenders. The target man is usually available for a pass from the midfield and brings his teammates into the play.
  • Team selection: The team selection includes all the players a team can choose from. From the starters up to the available substitutes, your team selection may be composed of 25 soccer players or more.
Soccer players practicing in field
  • Technical area: A defined area in proximity to a team’s bench to which the manager, other coaching personnel, and substitutes are allowed to occupy during a match. This area includes the bench, dugout, and a marked zone adjacent to the pitch.
  • Thirds: Areas roughly 35 yards in length signifying the defending, the middle, and the attacking thirds of the field. The thirds of the field will always comprise an integral part of how the game is played. The defensive third, which is also known as the first third, is usually where play starts when a team has possession of the ball. The halfway line bisects the middle third, and this is where players often begin to think about striking. The attacking third also called the final/offensive third, keeps the pressure on the opponent and increases the chance of scoring.
  • Three points: Three points for a win is a standard used in soccer in which three (rather than two) points go to the team winning a match, with no points awarded to the losing team. If the game is drawn, each team receives one point.
  • Through: This would describe the act of scoring a goal or advancing. It can also mean start winning the competition. For example, “Arsenal takes the lead through Pepe.”
  • Through pass: A pass played into space behind the defenders for a teammate to run. It is also a penetration through defenders into space between the goalie and the defense. A pass designed to go between two defenders to take them out of the play and release one’s own player into space.
  • Throw-in: A method of restart awarded to a team once the ball exits the field of play through either side of the field. The team that did not touch the ball last is the team that is awarded the throw-in to restart play. The throw-in location is the spot where the ball exited the touchline or sideline. The player must hold the ball with two hands and release it overhead from behind the sideline.
  • Tie: The game is counted as a tie or draw if both sides have scored an equal number of goals within the regulation time. When two teams have scored the same number of goals in a match or the game ends in a tie, the game is a draw.
  • Time: The standard length of a regulation soccer game is 90 minutes. This is divided into two 45-minute periods with a half-time break between the periods. The half-time break can last as long as 15 minutes.
  • Timeout: A referee can stop the clock and call a break in the game. The head coach or a player in the game can call a timeout only when the ball is dead or in control of the team making the request.
  • Toe poke: Also called a toe punt or a toe-ender. It’s a method of kicking the ball using the toe end of the boot rather than the instep or laces. Players use this in a position to pass the ball into the goal or steal the ball. Players can also use it for tackling when attempting to dispossess the ball carrier.
  • Top Four: All the clubs will play against each other in a tournament. The Top Four teams get to compete in the Champions League.
  • Touch: A player has the chance to touch or receive the ball using the foot, body, or head. It also defines the number of times he or she touches the ball. A nice touch is when a player receives and handles the ball well.
  • Touchline: The touchline is the sideline of a field. This is the longest line that defines the outer edge of the longer sides of the field of play. The lines also form the long sides of the rectangular field of play.
  • Transfer fee: This involves a professional club releasing a player when the player’s contract has expired or made available just before the end of the contract. It’s an act of a team selling a player to another team. The fee to pay is a “transfer fee.” A portion of the fee goes to the player, which he splits with his agent.
  • Trapping: Trap describes another method of controlling the ball off of a pass or a loose ball. Trapping the ball involves slowing or controlling the ball with the chest, feet, or thighs. It’s a crucial skill for soccer players that enables them to become competent in dribbling and controlling.
  • Treble: A treble means a team is winning three trophies in a single season. A domestic treble means winning three national competitions — typically the league title, the primary cup competition, and one secondary competition. A continental treble involves winning the club’s national league competition, main national cup competition, and a continental trophy.
  • Trials: Teams and clubs conduct trials to look for new players. However, some teams now rely on a network of scouts to find talent. Scouting usually means connecting with schools or local teams. Aside from promising talent, trials look for movement, technique, pace, and even temperament. A trial may consist of fitness training, drills, and games.
Young men playing soccer
  • Turning an opponent: Players must learn how to turn while keeping control of the ball and turning away from a defender when receiving a pass. It involves using fakes and feints that causes an opponent to turn.
  • Tyneside: A term for Newcastle, an English professional football club in Newcastle upon Tyne.


  • Up top: A team’s players at the front, usually the strikers and forward. They are the players who are typically nearest to the opposing team’s goal.


  • Volley: An air-borne strike in association football, where a player’s foot meets and directs the ball in an angled direction while the ball is in the air. Striking the ball in mid-air requires good foot-eye coordination and timing.


  • Wall: This is a defensive tactic that forms a line of two to six defending players join shoulder-to-shoulder in an attempt to protect their goal during a free-kick. It can cut off the opponent’s angles for attempting a goal or passing. The goalie must communicate to players in the wall to help secure the best position and line of sight. In this way, the team reduces the amount of open goal area the kicker has to cover. Simply put, players form a human barrier between their own goal and the ball to prevent a free-kick from entering the goal.
  • Weight: This describes the pace or power of a pass. It also refers to how hard a pass was kicked. Kicking the ball too hard is a bit heavy, while a too soft kick needs more weight.
  • Wembley: Wembley Stadium is a 90,000-seat football stadium in Wembley, London. It’s the largest football stadium in England and the largest stadium in the UK. This is where they hold most tournament finals.
  • Wide players: A player who plays most of the game next to the touchline, to the side of the pitch. This person is also the “winger”. They usually get the ball.
  • Wide/Narrow: A wide strategy stretches play across the pitch, which opens up space to exploit. This can be an attacking option where wingers stay wide and stretch the opposition defense, so your team can open up space for your attackers to exploit. A wide tactic is suitable for teams who want to play counters or direct passes. For those who would like short passes, a narrow opposition will try to exploit your wingers, but will bring your wide players closer together. The distance creates a tight and compact defense of your penalty area. It will be difficult for the opposition to break because this is a solid tactic if your opponent is weak on crosses and headers.
  • Win: This means a secure victory and not to lose or draw a game. You can use it with the nouns game, match, tournament, competition, award, and even free-kick or penalty. You can also use it to say “win the ball”, which means your team possesses the ball.
  • Wingers: A position on the team who plays typically near the touchline, often with an attacking responsibility. Also called “wing”, “wing forward”, and “wing midfielder”. Wingers are usually swift, skillful, and the best dribblers on their teams. Although they focus on one side of the field for most of the game, they can also play on the left or right side. They are also outside forwards that are near the strikers to open up scoring opportunities and crossing passes so the team can shoot at the goal.
  • Wondergoal: A goal that is excellent, exceptional, or incredible. For example, fans are looking forward to seeing more of Cristiano Ronaldo’s wonder goals this season.
  • Work rate: The rate of a player’s behavior on the field in terms of defensive and attacking works. It also refers to the extent to which a player contributes to running and chasing in a match while not in possession of the ball. It is the distance covered by a player during a match. A player with a high work rate is valuable and usually will play a more active role in defending and attacking throughout a match.
  • World-class: It could mean a soccer player who can play anywhere in the world. A world-class player may also mean someone who can win the game for your team. It can also refer to an astounding or incredible goal that is deemed world-class. Also referred to as “worldlie”.
Man alone in a soccer field
  • Worm burner: A low, hard-hit ground ball. It’s a powerful and fast kick that sends the ball rolling along the ground at high speed. A ball that is struck or hit in such a way that it skims along the ground at high speed.
  • Wrong side: An opponent gets between the goal and the defender. The aim is to get into a position between the ball and the goal.


  • Yellow card: A caution or booking from a referee to warn a player for dangerous and unsportsmanlike behavior, as well as blatant fouls or abusive language. It is given for on-field offenses such as entering the field of play without the referee’s permission, delaying the restart of play, and showing dissent by action or word. Likewise, it is a cautionary measure to warn a player not to repeat an offense. A player who receives two yellow cards in a single match is automatically ejected for the game, and his team remains shorthanded.


  • Zone defense: Also called a zonal marking. This is the area surrounding the goal that players need to mark or defend. Teams often use it to protect against the pass. This is a type of defense that assigns each defender to a particular area in front of or around the team’s goal. Hence, it’s the opposite of man-to-man marking.

Related Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about soccer lingo.

What Does CAM Mean in Soccer?

In soccer terms, CAM means Centre Attacking Midfielder. This position is in charge of distributing the ball with the objective of generating goal opportunities. A famous CAM is Thomas Müller.

What Does LWB Mean in Soccer?

In soccer terms, LWB means Left Wing-Back. This position is in charge of both defending and attacking, which is why it is often very demanding. A famous LWB is Alphonso Davies.

What Does CF Mean in Soccer?

In soccer lingo, CF means Centre Forward. This position’s main objective is to find a good position and sore goals. One of the most famous players in this position is Cristiano Ronaldo.


As you can see, there are hundreds of phrases that can be said in soccer. I hope this list helps you better understand the sport, and next time you’re watching a game with friends, try using a new phrase you learned from this list!

Tim Frechette is an avid athlete, having played sports like soccer and basketball his entire life. He brings a wealth of athletic knowledge to his writing.