What Is a Hat Trick?

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The concept of the hat trick has been around for years. It is often used as a metaphor for something else deterring people from the true definition of what is a hat trick. 

What Is a Hat Trick?

A hat trick in sports is when a player scores three goals or points consecutively. It is also defined as a player scoring at least three goals or other combinations within one game.

I will discuss the origin of the hat trick, types of hat tricks, and so much more. So, read on.

Player stepping over a soccer ball

Origin of the Term Hat Trick

Despite being a term used in both ice hockey and soccer, the origin of the word, ‘hat-trick,’ is unknown. The earliest known usage of the term in ice hockey came around 1910.

The first recorded use was in 1895 in a Canadian newspaper called ‘The Montreal Gazette.’ This article outlined the birth of the term referring to cricket. In the 19th century, the reward for hat tricks was a new hat or other prizes. 

Other sources claim that it began in 1858, where a bowler took three wickets during one turn at bat in a cricket match. This then spread to other sports. It’s also possible that hats were thrown onto the ice after a player scored three goals in ice hockey.

What Is a Perfect Hat Trick?

The perfect hat trick in soccer is when you score three specific types of goals. The first two must be scored with your right and left feet, respectively. The third goal must be from a header.

Types of Hat Tricks

The term is common in various sports events. Some examples include: 

  • Ice hockey
  • Soccer 
  • Rugby
  • Water polo

Hat Tricks in Ice Hockey

Hat tricks in ice hockey are a lot more common than in soccer. A hat trick occurs when any player on the ice scores three goals in one game. While this is rare, it can happen several times or even each week for some players.

The natural explanation for this term is after three consecutive goals, and no one would bet on them scoring again. This is either due to fatigue or other players focusing on the player in question.

Ice hockey players during a game

The most famous and best-known hat trick in ice hockey history is probably by Darryl Sittler on December 27th, 1976, against the Boston Bruins. He managed to score five goals in one game. 

Hat Tricks in Soccer

In soccer, a hat trick is when an attacking team member scores three or more goals within one match. This is becoming more common due to many teams’ increased dominance of attacking sides and poor game defensive display

While hat tricks are not as rare in soccer as in ice hockey, the term is still used to name players who achieve three or more goals within one match. These include other forms of scoring other than the traditional goal, such as an own goal.

However, hat tricks are also achieved with other methods, such as a penalty kick. This is more often in long games where a player misses several chances to score themselves and eventually gets around to converting one of them thanks to the ‘gift’ from the opposition.

Value of a Hat Trick

Hat tricks are incredibly valuable in both ice hockey and soccer because they can influence results dramatically. This is especially true in ice hockey, where teams can lose by several clear goals yet manage to win the game thanks to the efforts of their star striker.

A similar scenario in soccer is when a star player scores three or more goals. If they are playing against poor opposition with little chance of winning, their team will probably still win the game. their team from defeat. This often occurs in games where the opposition has two players. 

If they are playing against a strong side, their efforts can include one or more goals that save sent off or are missing many key players.

Importance of Hat Tricks in Ice Hockey and Soccer

The impact of hat tricks cannot be overstated when it comes to ice hockey and soccer. 

Ice Hockey

In the case of ice hockey, a hat trick can be primarily responsible for turning around a season, especially when there is little room for error in terms of points difference between teams.

Player attempting to pull a hat trick

Three shootout goals from one player in a single game in the NHL could mean the difference between making or missing out on the playoffs. Thus, it’s often more exciting when a player scores four or more goals as they require at least two natural hat tricks to achieve this feat.


Conversely, hat tricks are just as important in soccer due to being so common these days. Goalscorers are often seen in the media, praised by their teammates and coaches. 

They are viewed as ‘heroes’ by fans who wear shirts with their names printed on the back during televised games. The value of hat tricks perhaps explains why soccer players often celebrate goals, even those against their team.

It also explains why players are often reluctant to pass or move into a better position. Furthermore, even if it increases their chances of getting a goal and could help them achieve a hat trick.

Related Questions

Who Holds the Record for Most Hat Tricks in a Season?

Wayne Gretzky held this record after scoring ten hat tricks during the 1981-82 NHL campaign. However, three players have managed to beat his record by scoring 11 times throughout a single season.

Who Is the Youngest Player to Achieve a Hat Trick?

Joe Malone was 20 years old when he managed it for Montreal Canadiens against Quebec Bulldogs on February 28th, 1920.

What Is a Brace?

A brace is when a player scores two goals in one game. 


Hat tricks are fascinating events to happen in sports. It is always an honor for players when they can bring their team back from a losing position. Regardless of defining what constitutes a hat trick, achieving any goal thrice is an accomplishment worth celebrating.

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.