Thursday Jan 26, 2023

International Soccer Terms and Definitions

Soccer Terms

With the FIFA World Cup coming later this year, as well as the ongoing league matches all around the world from the Indian Super League to the English Premier League, it’s high time to learn some soccer terms. For those trying to get into the sport and even for those who need a refresher on the terms and terminology used in international soccer, this article hopes to clarify some jargon soccer fans and readers might have come across in matches, re-caps, and even in other articles, and to help them understand the language surrounding the culture of soccer.

Understanding International Soccer Terms

International soccer terminology can be confusing for those who are not familiar with the sport. The language used in games originated from Europe, where the game of soccer proliferated and grew into the worldwide institution it is today. In order to help new and old soccer fans understand the game a little better, here is a glossary of terms most commonly used in games:

International Soccer Terms


Back Four – A back four is a defensive formation made up of four players.

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


Cleat – A cleat is a metal or plastic spike that is attached to the bottom of a player’s shoe in order to provide extra traction when playing on grass or turf.

Clean Sheet – A clean sheet is a statistic in association football that refers to a goalkeeper or defender who has not let in any goals during a match. This is usually credited to the entire team, though individual players may be credited with one should they make an important save.

Corner kick – A corner kick is an attacking move that takes place when the ball goes out of bounds near one of the corners of the pitch. The attacking team will send one of its players to kick the ball back into play from the corner.

Cross – A cross is a type of pass that is played by sending the ball diagonally towards the penalty area in order to create a scoring opportunity for one of your teammates.

Crossbar – Horizontal bar that stretches across the top of the goal frame. If a ball hits the crossbar and goes over the goal line, it is considered a goal.


Defender – The player who is positioned in front of the goal to prevent the opposing team from scoring. There are different types of defenders, including centre-backs and full-backs.


Forward – A forward is a player who specialises in attacking the other team’s goal. They are often the most skilled players on the field and need to be able to shoot accurately and pass skillfully. Forwards work together with the other players on their team to create chances for scoring goals.

Flop – This is a term used to describe a player’s exaggerated response to being touched by an opponent. Also known as “dive.” This is often done in an attempt to get the other player penalised to get a free-kick.

Foul – A foul is an illegal move that is made by a player in order to gain an advantage over their opponent. Fouls can result in a free-kick, penalty kick, or even a red card.


Goalkeeper – The goalkeeper is the player who defends the team’s goal and is responsible for making saves. He or she is usually the tallest and strongest player on the team.

Goal-line – Thin white line that runs across the front of the goal, separating the field from the net. Any ball that crosses this line is considered a goal.


Handball – This is a term used to describe when a player uses their hand to control the ball. This is illegal in soccer and can result in a penalty.

Hat-trick – A hat-trick is when a player scores three goals in one game. 

Header – A header is when a player uses his or her head to control and redirect the ball. It is a common tactic used in aerial balls.

Hook – A hook is a type of shot that is played by hitting the ball on the outside of your foot in order to create power.


Inside of foot – The inside of your foot is the part of your foot that faces towards your body when you are standing upright. This is typically the part of your foot that you use when you want to make a controlled pass or shot.


Kickoff – The kickoff is the ceremonial start of a soccer match. A player from each team will line up at the midfield line and kick the ball back to their teammates.


Lob – A lob is a type of shot that is played by hitting the ball high in the air and over the goalkeeper’s head. It is often used to score goals from long distances.


Midfielder – Midfielders are players who are positioned in the centre of the pitch between the defenders and the attackers. They are responsible for helping to create chances for their team and also for defending against attacks. There are different types of midfielders, including attacking midfielders and defensive midfielders.


Nutmeg – This is a term used to describe when a player dribbles the ball between an opponent’s legs.


Offside – Offside is a rule in soccer that states that a player cannot be nearer to the opponents’ goal than the second-to-last defender when the ball is played to him or her. This is intended to prevent players from camping out near the opponent’s goal and scoring easily.


Pass – A pass is an attempt to send the ball to one of your teammates in order to create a scoring opportunity. There are many different types of passes, including crosses, through balls, and chips.

Penalty kick – This is a kick taken from the penalty spot, which is 12 yards away from the goal, and awarded to a team if they are fouled in their own penalty area.

Pitch – The pitch is the rectangular field on which soccer is played. It is 100 yards long and 50 yards wide.

Player – A player is any person who is participating in a soccer match. There are 11 players on each team, including the goalkeeper.

Punt – A punt is a type of kick that is used when the ball is too far away for a player to control with his or her feet. The player will instead hit the ball with their head or upper body in order to send it high into the air.


Red card – A red card is a punishment that is given to a player who has committed a serious foul or has been shown to be violent. In the event that a player receives a red card, they are ejected from the match and must leave the field.


Save – A save is when a goalkeeper or defending player stops a shot from entering the goal. Saves are an important part of any soccer match and can often be the difference between winning and losing.

Shot – A shot is when a player attempts to score a goal by hitting the ball with his or her foot. Shots can be taken from anywhere on the pitch, but they are most commonly taken from close range.

Shutout – A shutout is when a goalkeeper prevents the opposing team from scoring any goals during a game. This is typically accomplished by not allowing a single shot on goal to enter the net.

Soccer – Soccer is a sport that is played by two teams of 11 players each. The objective of the game is to score more goals than your opponent. Soccer is often referred to as “football” in other parts of the world.

Stoppage – This refers to any time during a match when play is stopped. This can be for a number of reasons, such as a player being injured or a goal being scored. When a stoppage occurs, the players will usually gather in the middle of the pitch to discuss what is happening.

Striker – A striker is a player who specialises in scoring goals. He or she is usually the most attacking player on the team and is responsible for taking most of the team’s shots.

Sweeper – A sweeper is a defensive player who plays in the backfield and helps to protect the goal. He or she often comes up to the midfield line to help out with attacks but will quickly return to their own half when the ball is lost.


Through ball – A through ball is a type of pass that is played by sending the ball through the defence and into the path of a teammate. It is a difficult pass to execute but can lead to some very exciting goals.

Trap – A trap is when a player catches or controls the ball after it has been passed to them. This is an important skill that every player must master in order to be successful.


Volley – A volley is a type of shot that is played by hitting the ball while it is still in the air. It is often used to score goals from close range.


Wall – If a player is taking a free-kick and wants to block the view of the goalkeeper, they can do so by positioning their teammates in a wall in front of them. The wall will usually be made up of as many players as possible, who will try to block the goalkeeper’s view.

Winger – A winger is a player who plays on the wings and uses his or her speed and dribbling skills to create chances for their team. Wingers are often responsible for crosses and scoring goals.

Woodwork – The woodwork refers to the posts and crossbar of the goal. If a ball hits one of these structures, it is called hitting the woodwork.


Yellow card – A yellow card is a punishment that is given to a player who has been cautioned for misconduct. Those who receive a yellow card must leave the field.


Zonal defence – Zonal defence is a type of defensive strategy that involves players defending specific areas of the pitch instead of marking specific players. This type of defence can be very effective against teams that use a lot of passing.

Final Thoughts

We hope that we’ve managed to shed some light on some soccer terms and lingo you’ve already encountered. With these definitions locked and loaded in your brain, the ones you’re bound to come across with will no longer be a question. Should you encounter one you don’t quite understand, you can always come back here in, and review. So grab a seat on the couch, turn on your favourite soccer match, and enjoy the action!

Jeremy Nero

Nero Fulgar has been writing professionally for the past five years, delving into technical and creative content, as well as literary works. He has a degree in creative writing from U.P. Visayas and has published several works in the Philippines and Singapore. Other than writing, he has dabbled into editing and publishing fiction novels before moving on into writing-centred professions. Based in Dumaguete City, Philippines, he continues to write about everything that interests him, which includes igames, sports, politics, pop culture, art, and literature to name a few. You can reach Jeremy at [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top