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Soccer Terms and Definitions

Welcome to the thrilling world of soccer, where passion, skill, and sheer determination collide on the pitch! Whether you’re a fan of Major League Soccer (MLS), European Premier League (EPL) soccer or just enjoy playing the game with friends, this glossary from Bovada Sportsbook will serve as your ticket to understanding all of the key terms and definitions of soccer!

Imagine yourself in the stands, surrounded by roaring crowds, electric energy crackling in the air. Soccer, known as “the beautiful game,” has its own language – a symphony of shouts, celebrations, and strategic maneuvers. In this article, we will unravel this linguistic tapestry thread by thread, revealing the secret codes and jargon that players, coaches, and fans alike use to communicate in the sport of soccer.

Prepare to encounter the agility of a “nutmeg,” the audacity of a “panenka,” and the deftness of a “rabona.” Discover the significance of the offside trap and the dreaded yellow card. Brace yourself for the exhilarating nature of a “penalty kick” and the thrilling “added time” that can make or break the hearts of soccer fans.

So, let’s kick off this journey and bring the magic of the game to life through the rich tapestry of soccer’s glossary. By the time you’re done, you’ll have become fluent in the language of the beautiful game!


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Soccer Terms Explained

Advantage – A principle applied by the referee to allow play to continue when a team has been fouled or infringed upon, but it is more beneficial for them to keep possession and continue their attacking movement rather than stopping play for a free kick or penalty.

Backheel – A technique in soccer where a player kicks the ball backward using the heel of their foot. It involves striking the ball with the heel while the player’s body is facing away from the direction of the pass or shot.

Bicycle Kick – A spectacular maneuver in soccer where a player, while in mid-air, kicks the ball by lifting both legs off the ground and executing a backward motion resembling the pedaling motion of a bicycle.

Box – The term “box” refers to the rectangular area in front of each team’s goal, also known as the penalty area. It is marked by the goal line, the two shorter lines extending from the goal line, and the longer lines perpendicular to the goal line, creating a rectangular shape.

Corner Kick – A set-piece in soccer awarded to the attacking team when the ball goes out of play over the goal either side of the goalposts, last touched by the defending team. Taken from the corner arc, a player kicks the ball into play, aiming to deliver it to a teammate in the opponent’s penalty area.

Cross – A type of pass made from the sides of the field into the area in front of the goal. It involves a player, typically positioned near the touchline, lofting the ball across the field towards their teammates in scoring positions.

Dribble – In soccer, dribbling refers to the skillful act of controlling and moving the ball with small touches while running. It involves close ball control, quick footwork, and the ability to maneuver through tight spaces while maintaining possession.

Extra Time – An additional period of play that is added to a match when the regular playing time ends in a draw. Extra time is commonly used in knockout stages of tournaments, such as knockout rounds or finals, where a winner must be determined.

Foul – A foul occurs when a player engages in unfair or illegal actions that go against the laws of the game. Foul examples in soccer include tripping, pushing, holding, tackling from behind, or making excessive contact with an opponent.

Goal Kick – A method of restarting play when the attacking team was the last to touch the ball before it crossed the defending team’s goal line without resulting in a goal. It is awarded to the defending team and provides them an opportunity to regain possession and initiate an attacking move from their own goal area.

Injured Time – Also known as stoppage time or added time, it refers to the additional minutes of play added to the end of each half to compensate for time lost due to injuries, substitutions, goal celebrations or any other events that caused a delay in the normal flow of play.

Nutmeg – A skillful move where a player passes the ball through the opponent’s legs. It occurs when the attacking player successfully dribbles or passes the ball between the legs of the defending player, leaving them “nutmegged” or “megged.”

Offside Trap – A defensive tactic employed by the defending team to catch attacking players in an offside position. The objective is to create a strategic and well-coordinated movement of the defensive line, stepping forward simultaneously to catch opponents offside.

Panenka – A penalty kick technique where the offensive player delicately chips the ball down the center of the goal as the goalkeeper dives to either side in an attempt to anticipate a harder shot.

Penalty Kick – A penalty kick is a direct kick awarded to the attacking team when a defending player commits a major foul inside their own penalty area. The kick is taken from the penalty spot, which is situated 12 yards (11 meters) away from the goal line and only the goalkeeper is allowed to defend the goal.

Rabona – A skillful technique where a player crosses or shoots the ball by wrapping their kicking leg around the back of their standing leg. It involves crossing one leg behind the other to strike the ball, resulting in a unique and visually striking maneuver.

Red Card – A disciplinary action to indicate a serious offense committed by a player. The player is immediately sent off the field, and their team must play with one less player for the remainder of the match. The red card is typically shown for severe fouls, violent conduct, a deliberate handball denying a goal-scoring opportunity, or accumulating two yellow cards in the same match.

Tackle – A defensive maneuver used to regain possession or disrupt the attacking player’s progress. There are different types of tackles, including slide tackles, standing tackles, and poke tackles.

Yellow Card – A cautionary card to indicate an offense committed by a player. It serves as a formal warning and is typically given for misconduct or unsporting behavior. If a player receives two yellow cards, they will receive a red card.