Terms Used in Soccer:
The purpose is to help players to have a better understanding of the terms used in soccer. This is not a final list of terms but rather a start.
- 18 yard box-same as the penalty box. (See penalty box)
- 12 yard spot-the spot where penalty kicks are taken from.
- Assist-the pass that leads to the goal. It’s as important as the goal itself, and some say it’s even more important.
- Back pass-A pass made backwards, away from the goal you are attacking. (Drop is the term used). Also called negative play.
- Bending balls-a pass or shot that is hit with spin (by hitting a side of the ball) to make the ball curve.
- Checking run- A player who checks to the ball is one who is making a run on an angle directly to the ball with the intention of either receiving the ball or creating space. A checking run away from the ball is usually used to create space for the next run.
- Creating space- This is the act of leaving an area of the field in order to draw the defense away from that area so that you (or one of your teammates can use the space to your advantage in the future.
- Chip- a soft pass that leaves the ground and is “floated” to and intended target. This is accomplished by striking the lower half of the ball, which will cause the ball to elevate.
- Closing down- Defensively getting closer to and opponent with the ball to take away space and add pressure to the opponent.
- Cross- To play the ball from the side of the field toward the middle of the field in the offensive third.
- Defensive third- the third of the field closest to the goal you are defending.
- Dummies- To fake that you are going to touch the ball and you dummy and let it run.
- Far Post- This is the goal post (the post that makes up the side of the goal) that is furthest from the ball at the given time.
- 50/50 Ball- A loose ball that can be won by either team. Whoever wins the most, often wins the match.
- Finishing- To finish means to score. I like to use the term finishing or finish rather shooting because you don’t necessarily win by only shooting, you must finish.
- Flat back four- a type of zonal defending that involves 4 defenders each responsible for an area across the back of the defense. The reason it’s called flat is that the players usually don’t have as much deep support as they would with a sweeper behind them.
- Formations- whenever you hear about formations, you hear some numbers like 4-4-2 or 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 or something like that. To explain it real simply, the numbers work form the back forward and the keeper is never counted. So, a 4-4-2 is a formation with 4 backs, 4 midfielders, and two forwards along with one keeper.
- Forward- the players who start off closest to the goal the team is attacking. First and foremost, the forwards are responsible for scoring goals or at least creating scoring opportunities.
- Fullback- (backs) the players who are just in front of the goalkeeper and are primarily responsible for defense. They also are involved in the build up and do get involved in the attack.
- Keep you shape- Maintain positional discipline on defense so that you don’t leave gaps for the other team to attack. If you have too many players forward, or too many on one side of the field, you have lost your shape.
- “Keeper”- The keeper yells this if he wants the ball and does not want anyone on his team to touch it.
- Leave- a player will call “leave” if they want another player to not take the ball and leave it for that player.
- Man on- “man-on” One player is telling another player with the ball that he has a defender coming on him.
- Marking- To mark means to take defensive responsibility for an attacking player. If I am marking you, my first priority is this on player. This would be similar to guarding a player in basketball.
- Midfielders- (Mids) The line up between the forwards and the backs and are the ones who link the two together. They have equal responsibility both offensively and defensively.
- Near post- this is the goal post (the post that makes up the side of the goal) that is nearest to the ball at the given time.
- Nutmeg- Strike the ball so it goes between the legs of the defender, and your team retains possession.
- Opening the field- (open up) Spreading the field offensively to create more space for the players to work with.
- Overlapping runs-This is a run where Player A runs from behind player B and goes past (overlaps) to either receive the ball or to create space for player B.
- Penalty box- also known as the 18-yard box. This is the area where the keeper is allowed to use hands. Also, any foul in this box that would result in a direct kick results in a penalty kick.
- Pitch- The playing field.
- Save- A save is when a keeper prevents a ball from going into the goal that has been shot by the opposing team and would go in the goal if it was not for the keeper.
- Serve- To serve a ball usually means to play a long ball into the 18-yard box to a runner or runners. It could be a cross or a ball from the back in early.
- Square pass- a pass that is hit parallel to the goal line. In other words, a ball that is played to a player that goes in the direction of either of the sidelines.
- Stopper- Plays right in front of the sweeper and is responsible defensively either for the first forward down field or the first midfielder down field (depending on the way the opponent plays.
- Sweeper- The player who plays furthest back on the field (just in front of the keeper) who doesn’t have any marking responsibilities and is mainly responsible for helping others out defensively (cover). He also will help out and become the first defender if the teammate has lost their mark.
- Switch fields- to pass the ball from one side of the field to the other, in one or two passes. By quickly changing the angle of attack, you can confuse the defense and take advantage of openings that will inevitably appear as the defenders scramble to adjust.
- Takeover- Player A has the ball and allows the teammate Player B to take the ball from them.
- Touchline- the touchline is the sideline. If you hear someone say that the ball “goes into the touch” it means that it is just out of bounds.
- Thru ball- to play a pass behind the defense for one of your players to run onto. This pass has to be made with perfect pace and accuracy so it beats the defense and allows attackers to collect it before the goalkeeper.
- “Time”- A teammate will yell “time” to his teammate just as he is receiving the ball, if there is no defender closing down quickly.
- Transition- making the change from offense to defense of from defense to offense.
- “Turn”- a player will yell, “turn” to his teammate as he is receiving the ball. This lets the player know that the defender has not closed him down and he has the time to turn the ball.
- Wall pass-A wall pass is one where Player A passes the ball to Player B and then makes a run. Player B returns the ball to Player A one touch. Think of it as if Player B is simply a wall and the ball is played into the wall and comes back to the player with the same angle.
Definitions needed to learn:
- Three Phases of the game:
- Defending phase- Team is defending to regain possession of the ball.
- Build-up phase- the team is in possession of the ball and is preparing for the attacking phase.
- Attacking phase-The phase where ultimately there is an attack on the goal with the aim of a shot on goal.
- Team responsibility- 11 players are defending, 11 players are involved in the build-up, 11 players are attacking, and 11 players are in transition.
- Defensive pressure-The team applies defensive pressure all over the field. We give the opponent little time to act of react. “No space no time”.
- The game of “football” is like an orchestra- harmony in defense, in the build-up and in the attack. One of the coaching staff’s jobs is to break down and analysis the match, breaks down the components, and betters them within the training sessions. We observe and develop training exercises to work on shortcomings. Training must be as meaningful as possible, and match conditions must be simulated.
- Game mentality during training sessions-We demand game mentality during the training sessions if we expect players to improve.
- Defending- each player has his own task in defending to make it work. Forwards /strikers are included. “Pressure Football” carried out by all 11 players starting wherever the opponents gains possession of the ball.
- The aim of Pressure football- to disturb and interrupt the build-up of the opponent as early as possible. We try to force them to make the inaccurate long ball pass to no one. We try to make them play square. We try to force errors early to gain possession and then quick transition.
- Total Pressure- puts the player with the ball on the opposing team under pressure, even with the double team or swarming the ball, and give him little time or space to act. To do this not only is the player with the ball under pressure, but also players with out the ball are tightly marked. Players without the ball cannot have space to work in. If they do total pressure will not work and will fall apart. To play this brand of football players must be in top physical condition.
- Team Tactical Maturity- Players as they get older must start to understand the tactics of the game. There are individual tactics, group tactics and team tactics. As players mature group and team tactics are more important and must be learned to become a successful player.
- “Hunting for the ball”- Regaining possession as soon as possible after the ball is lost.
- “Trapping the opponent”- The trapping of the opponent in their own half of the pitch. This is only possible to do if all lines are pushed up and play close together on defense.
- Lines in the team- this is best explained as an example. In a 4:4:2 system or organization. There are 4 defenders (this is the defending line), there are 4 midfielders (this is the midfield ling), and there are two forwards (this is the forward line).
- Individual qualities on attack- the following are qualities needed to usually have a successful attack.
1. Good combination play.
2. Good positional play is a must. To get into a good position to defend, build-up and attack. Individual players must understand where to be and when to be there. Players must develop quick tactical reaction speed.
3. Able to take the correct position at the correct time. Not just standing around and ball watching. If you are a ball-watching spectator on the pitch, you probably are tactically immature.
4. Able to deliver a good pass. If we don’t have good technical passing skills and be able to deliver a good accurate pass with proper pace to a player or space, the build-up will break down and we will be defending.
5. Play simple football- playing the ball quickly and accurately to a teammate and then moving off to support.
6. Put someone in a position to score.
7. Do not hold on to the ball unnecessarily and too long. Making the mistake of one step to many with the ball, the teammate who was available has disappeared.
- Participating- all players are allowed to participate in the build-up and the attack. However, they are responsible for their defensive tasks if the ball is lost.
- Pace of the match- Players can set the pace of the match. The team can have a slow build-up, or quick transition play, or run and gun with the long ball. Good teams can use all of these to vary play and keep the opponent off balance. However, most teams will have a basic style of play.
- Winning the battles- players want to outsmart their opponent and win the battles, and ultimately win the game. They cannot do this by themselves. They can only succeed through teamwork in defending, the build-up and the attack.
- Organization Form- which organization form does the team plays in. Most common forms are the 5:3:2, 4:4:2, or the 4:3:3. Within the form are variations of style of play, concerning the defending, build-up and attacking.
- Positional Play- positions of the players during the build-up and attack will be as flexible as possible. Players will and should vary and interchange positions within play. However if the ball is lost, pressure on the ball, and players must then understand and perform their defensive task.
- Balance- there must always be balance between attacking, build-up and defending. Some players must always be behind the ball and in a position to take up a good defensive position if the ball is lost.
- Basic Task- Each player performs his basic tasks. Players have basic tasks depending on the position the player is playing. Players must be capable to perform their basic task. A fundamental rule is that a player should never do a bad job at his basic task, even on a bad day; his basic task should never be neglected. Each player must understand and perform his basic within the three-team functions of the game, (defending, build-up and attack) but especially those in the defensive area.
- Top player- can see in a split second what is happening on the field, and immediately act in a team efficient manner.
- Defensive Team Function- This is the highest priority of the team.
1. All players defend.
2. Don’t let the opponent play or get into a rhythm.
3. Stay well organized.
4. Good defending is the foundation of a good team.
5. When we play an attacking style of football, you are spread. When possession is lost, the whole team must defend, and react immediately to put pressure on each opposing player.
6. Well-organized defensive effort by all 11 players as a tactical unit.
- Concentration, focus and intensity- players must have total concentration and focus during the match. As a player gets older and players get better, any short lapse in concentration or focus can quickly “burn” you. This can even be embarrassing to the player. As most things in the game, this is only developed during training and practice. Therefore, it is most important that players practice this in the training sessions. If you train without concentration, focus and intensity you will play the game without the same. This is very important for the serious player to understand, especially as they get older. Team pear pressure during a match when a player is not performing is hardly the way a player wants to learn the above.
- Team Play Making Strategy-
- The entire team must defend and try to keep the ball and the opponent in there half of the field.
- The defensive line and the midfield line must push up right away. The four players in the defensive line must push up into the midfield.
- The keeper comes out and acts as the sweeper.
- Our defenders must be fast to be able to beat the opponent to any through or long ball they may deliver.
- The midfield line must be able to control the ball, with one of the central midfield players or the stopper being the playmaker.
- If the ball is lost, no player may get passed in his zone.
- Building up the team must master ball circulation (moving the ball and switching the point of attack).
- One touch football is a must.
- Good combination play with excellent positional play by players (you cannot just stand around).
- Defenders must quickly change the point of attack during our build-up and take full advantage of space.
- One time we may want to choose to play high tempo football, and the next time we may want to use delaying tactics in the build-up. The important thing is that we do control the tempo and not our opponent.
- We must play wide on the build-up and the attack.
- Transition from defense to build-up must be quick.
- The better the midfield and forward line assist in defending the better the result of the defensive line will be.
- Marking up- the farther away from your goal you are-covering spaces in conjunction with teammates, with players on the ball. The closer to goal the tighter and sharper you have to man mark. Must be concentrated with each opponent marked up. Total concentration when you are defending in the penalty box. If you are marking an opponent one of your basic tasked is to not let him take the shot. If a player is allowed to take the shot especially if he is allowed to turn and take the shot, you have neglected one of your basic tasks. There must be total concentration and tight marking in the penalty area and the defense must be very aggressive to the ball.
- Guidelines to aid in defense-
- Support must always be present
- Pinching in-covering to inside of the field
- Cover the opponent by staying with him. Loose opponents lead to disorganization in the defense.
- Players are linked together by invisibly pieces of rope. The better the positional play the harder it will be for the opponent to disrupt your defensive organization.
- Staying with your mark up the field on the opponents attack is a clear tactical rule.
- When our team clears a ball we must immediately push up as a team and gain territory. The keeper must yell, “get out or get out of the box”. This is a must to make the opponent come with you or they will be caught off side.
- Good defensive assistance from midfielders and forwards.
- Forwards one basic task of the forwards is to defensively work together to control the play of the opponent and make their play predictable.
- Defensively- the three lines must play close together.
- Total Football- high-grade positional play. Players constantly involved in the build- up and attack without neglecting the defensive duties. The team must be a constantly positional searching unit.
- Negative and positive play-The ball is played backwards diagonally is playing the ball negative. The ball is played forwards diagonally, it is being played positive. This also relates to positive and negative positional play and support.
- Team aspect of play- this is our style of play.
- Ball on the ground, except long switching point of attack, long crosses or shots outside the 18-yard box.
- Triangle support and triangle passes both positive and negative, wherever the ball is.
- Minimize the number of touches on the ball. Fast speed of play, with low number of touches. Fast and safe passes.
- Reception of the ball, facing and playing opposite where the ball came from. Read the entire field. Know what you are going to do before you receive the ball.
Note-this is only the basic style of play and play may and should develop differently depending on the circumstance and the opponents reaction.
this page for printable version.