Glossary

A guide on understanding football or soccer terms

Advantage rule:   a clause in the rules that allows the referee to refrain from stopping play for a foul if doing so would benefit the team that committed the violation.

Assist:  the pass or passes which immediately precede a goal; a maximum of two assists can be credited for on goal.

Attacking midfielder:  the forward-playing midfielder, playing right behind the forwards; he supports the offense by providing passes to forwards to set up goals.

Attacker:   any player on the team that has possession of the ball.

Attacking team: the team with possession of the ball.

Breakaway:  when an attacker with the ball approaches the goal undefended; this exciting play puts a sole attacker against the goalkeeper in a one-on-one showdown.

Carrying the ball:   a foul called to a goalkeeper when he takes more than four steps while holding or bouncing the ball.

Center: a pass from a player located near the sideline towards the middle of the field; used to get the ball closer to the front of the goal; also called a cross.

Center Circle:  a circular marking with a 10-yard radius in the center of the field from which kickoffs are taken to start or restart the game.

Center line:  also called midfield line; the line that divides the field in half.

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

Chip pass:  a pass lofted into the air from a player to a teammate; used primarily to evade a defender by kicking the ball over his head.

Chip shot:  a kick lofted into the air to try to sail the ball over the goalkeeper’s head and still make it under the crossbar into the goal.

Clear:  to kick the ball away from one’s goal.

Corner kick: a type of restart where the ball is kicked from the corner arc in an attempt to score; awarded to an attacking team when the ball crosses the goal line last touched by the defending team.

Cross/crossing pass:  a pass from an attacking player near the sideline to a teammate in the middle or opposite side of the field; used to give the teammate a good scoring opportunity.

Defenders:  the players on the team that does not have possession of the ball.

Defense:  a team’s function of preventing the opposition from scoring.

Defensemen:  three or four players on a team whose primary task is to stop the opposition from scoring; also called the fullbacks.

Direct free kick:  a kick awarded to a player for a serious foul committed by the opposition; the player kicks a stationary ball with no opposing players within 10 yards of him;  a goal can be scored directly from this kick without the ball touching another player.

Drop Kick:  when a goalie drops the ball from his hands and kicks it just after it hits the ground.

Forwards:  the 3 or 4 players on a team who are responsible for most of a team’s scoring.  They play in front of the rest of their team where they can take most of it shots; strikers; and wingers.

Foul:  a violation of the rules for which an official assesses a free kick.

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

Front Header:  the striking of a ball in the air by a player’s forehead; the most common type of header.

Front Tackle:  an attempt by a defender to kick the ball away from an attacker by approaching him from a head-on position.

Goal:  a ball that crosses the goal line between the goal posts, and below the crossbar and into net into which all goals are scored.

Goal Kick:  a type of restart where the ball is kicked from inside the goal area away from the goal; awarded to the defending team  when a ball that crossed the goal line was last touched by a player on the attacking team.

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

Indirect free kick:  a kick awarded to a player for a less-serious foul committed by the opposition; the player kicks a stationary ball without any opposing players within 10 yards of him; a goal can only be scored on this kick after the ball has touched another player.

Injury time:   time added to the end of any period according to the referee’s judgment of time lost due to player injuries or intentional stalling by a team.

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

Midfield line:   also called center line; the line that divides the field in half.

Offside:   a violation called when a player in an offside position receives a pass from a teammate; an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposition.

Out of bounds:  when a ball is outside the boundaries of the field, having completely crossed a sideline or goal line.

Outlet passes:  when a goaltender or defender passes the ball from close to their own goal toward the other team’s goal; used to start a counterattack.

Passing:  when a player kicks the ball to his teammate; used to move the ball closer to the opposing goal, to keep the ball away from an opponent or to give the ball to a player who is in a better position to score.

Penalty:  short for penalty kick; also, a punishment given by the referee for a violation of the rules.

Penalty shot:  a kick taken from the penalty spot by a player against the opposing goalie without any players closer than 10 yards away; awarded for the most severe rule violations and those committed by the defense within its own penalty area; also taken in a tiebreaker to decide a match.

Penalty spot:  the small circular spot located 12 yards in front of the center of the goal line from which all penalty kicks are taken; positioned at the center of the penalty arc.

Red card:  a playing card-sized card that a referee holds up to signal a player’s removal from the game; the player’s team must play the rest of the game short-handed; presented for violent behavior or multiple rule infractions (two yellow cards = one red card.

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

Save:  the act of a goal keeper in blocking or stopping a shot that would have gone into he goal without his intervention.

Score:  to put the ball into the net for a goal; also, the tally of goals for each team playing a game.

Yellow card:   a card that a referee holds up to warn a player for dangerous or unsportsmanlike conduct.