Each sport has its own terminology; soccer is no different. This page decodes many of the most commonly used terms heard on and near a soccer field.
Advantage – Occurs when a referee allows an intentional defensive foul without calling a penalty that stops play. This permits the offensive team, while attacking, to maintain its advantage against the defensive team.
Booking – Each time a player is given a yellow or red card, it is recorded in the referee’s penalty book.
Clearing – Takes place when the defending team kicks the ball out of its defensive zone, thus stopping the other team’s offensive drive.
Corner Arcs – The designated four corners of the playing field from where corner kicks are taken.
Cross – Describes a long pass kicked to the center of the goal area by an advancing player from near the sidelines.
Dribble – The advancing of the ball by one player using a continuous series of short kicks. This is the technique players use to maintain ball control.
Drop Ball – When the referee is unsure which player is at fault for an infraction or an out-of-bounds, he or she drops the ball between two opposing players to resume play. The ball must hit the ground before either player can kick it.
Drop Kick – A kick taken by a goalie from within the penalty area. The ball is dropped from the goalie’s hands and then kicked just as it bounces.
Dummy – Describes a fake move by a player who intentionally allows the ball to go past him or her in an attempt to put a defensive player out of position.
Half Volley – Kicking the ball at exactly the same time it touches the ground.
Heading – Describes the action of a player hitting the ball with his or her forehead in an attempt to make a pass, block a shot, or put a shot on goal.
Juggling – A practice technique used to learn ball control. A player juggles the ball in the air by using his or her feet, thighs, chest, top of shoulders, and head.
Marking – A defensive technique in which one player closely guards an opponent.
Nutmeg – A player dribbles or passes the ball through the legs of a defending player.
Offside – One of the the most controversial rules of the game. Many people refer to “offsides,” however, this is incorrect. The singular “offside” is the FIFA approved description. For a more detailed description, go to the animated Offside Rule described.
Out-of-bounds – When the entire ball crosses over a sideline or end line. The ball is playable if it is touching any part of a line.
Pass Back – A deliberate pass by a defensive player back to his or her own goalie in the penalty area. The goalie may only pick up the ball if it was headed back. If passed from feet, the goalie may not use his or her hands.
Penalty Area – A marked rectangular area in front of each goal. The goalkeeper is permitted to touch the ball with his or her hands in this area of the field only.
Slide Tackle – A player slides and kicks the ball in an attempt to steal it from an advancing player. The sliding player must first touch the ball before making contact with the other player – otherwise it is a foul. This is not encouraged in recreational soccer.
Tackle – A player’s method of taking the ball away from an opposing player moving with the ball using footwork and sliding.
Throw In – When the ball is knocked completely over the sideline (touchline), the opposing team throws it back into play. This is done with an overhead throw with two hands holding onto the ball after being drawn behind the head and both feet touching the ground. We start this concept in U8. The U4 and U6 players kick the ball in to get them familar with not using their hands.
Touch – Describes a player’s contact with the ball. A “one touch” is to receive and pass the ball in one kicking motion.
Trapping – The ability of a player to control the ball after it has been passed to him or her. The chest and foot trap are the most commonly used techniques.
Volley – Kicking the ball when it is in the air.
Wall – On a direct or indirect free kick, defensive players will line up side by side ten yards in front of the ball. This is done in an effort to block a direct line to the goal. You’ll hear a coach yell, “make your wall”!