This resource is intended to include soccer terms / soccer slang commonly used amongst “soccer people” and in soccer broadcasts. It is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all soccer terms. I’ve included the terms that I get asked about regularly. I expect this list to grow and evolve.
American Football — the only REAL football!
Ball Side — a term used to describe the positioning of a defender between the ball and the player being marked.
Box Soccer — a training technique that utilizes a single setup of minimal equipment for entire training sessions. It is designed for ease of use and maximum time on the ball.
Box to Box — usually used in connection with the center midfielder and refers to the player covering essentially the entire length of the field — from goal box to goal box.
Brace — a single player scores two goals in one match.
Cleats — see “Boots” above.
Direct Free Kick — the ball can go directly in the goal from the free kick. Referee will not hold his/her arm in the air prior to the kick.
Endline — the short boundaries of the pitch (goals are on the endlines).
Fixture — a game scheduled to take place on a particular date.
Football — pretentious word for SOCCER!
Formation — soccer formations are typically lists of numbers. For example, 4-3-3. This means 4 defenders, 3 midfielders and 3 forwards. The numerical list always starts at the back of a formation.
Goal Side — a term used to describe the positioning of a defender between the player being marked and the goal being defended.
Hat Trick — a single player scores three goals in one match.
Indirect Free Kick — the ball must be touched by another player (from either team) after the kick is taken prior to scoring a goal. Referee will hold his/her arm in the air prior to the kick.
Keeper — goalkeeper or goalie.
Kit — commonly referred to in the United States as a uniform.
Match — commonly referred to in the United States as a game.
Nil — zero – as in the score was four-nil (4-0).
Nutmeg — a player plays the ball through the legs of an opposing player.
Offside — if an attacking player (without the ball) does not have two defending players (goalie counts as one) or the ball closer to the goal that is being attacked prior to the pass made to the attacking player, the player is offside. There is no violation if a player is in an offside position, but is not involved in the play. Check out my post Soccer Rules – Offside Explained for a more in-depth explanation.
Pitch — the soccer field.
Position Numbers — numbers assigned to the various positions on the field for ease of reference. The numbers vary a bit based on formation, but for a basic 4-3-3 formation:
- 1 is the goalkeeper;
- 2 is the right fullback
- 3 is the left fullback
- 4 is the right center back
- 5 is the left center back
- 6 is the defending/holding midfielder
- 7 is the right wing
- 8 is the center/BOX TO BOX! midfielder
- 9 is the center forward/striker
- 10 is the attacking midfielder
- 11 is the left wing
Service — playing the ball in to an attacking player for a scoring opportunity.
“Soccer” — internationally known as futbol or football, the word soccer originated as a shortened version of association football used in the United States to distinguish it from American football which was being developed in the United States at roughly the same time.
Soccer Tennis — Also known as Soccer Volleyball. Check out this post.
Soccer Volleyball — Also known as Soccer Tennis. Check out this post.
Table — commonly referred to in the United States as the standings.
Through Ball — playing the ball behind the line of the defense so that another attacking player can run onto it.
Touchline — commonly referred to in the United States as a sideline. The long boundaries of the pitch.
VAR — video assistant referee.