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Highland Scots Soccer

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Soccer 101

Soccer 101
Unfamiliar with soccer terms? We've got a cheat sheet for you! See below! Want more information? Have a look at the Soccer Pocket Guide from U.S. Youth Soccer.

Quick Reference Soccer Terminology


Player Positions:

Defender: Player positioned in front of their team goalkeeper focused on             stopping the opposing team from scoring.


Forward: Player positioned at the front of the formation focused on scoring.


Goalkeeper (Goalie or Keeper): Player at entrance of the goal focused on stopping the ball from crossing the goal line. The only player on the field permitted to use their hands and only inside the penalty area/box. Once ball picked up, he/she has 6 seconds to punt or release it. This player must wear a different colored shirt from the other players. No Goalkeeper in the U6/U8   division.


Mid-fielder: Player positioned between the forwards and the defenders in the middle of the field which transition between offense and defense.


Wings: Can be right wing or left wing position located near sidelines that bring the ball up the sideline and cross it to the center forward.


Offense: The team that has possession of the ball. (Forwards/ Mid-fielders)


Defense: The player that is defending the goal. (Defenders/ Mid-fielders)



Player Formations on the Field:

            4-4-2: The most common formation of 4 defenders, 4 mid-fielders and 2 forwards.


            3-5-2: Consists of: 3 defenders, 5 mid-fielders and 2 forwards.                   



Terms for Officials

Assistant Referee (AR): The two officials one on each sideline monitoring for offsides and point out fouls to the Referee. Note out of bounds and direction of play using flags.


Referee (Center Referee (CR)): One official who is in charge. Determine calls with assistance of the Assistant Referees.


Referee Cards:

Yellow card (caution): A card shown to a player that is yellow in color by the Referee due to an action not in fair play, dangerous or unsportsmanlike behavior. Two yellow cards to a player in the same game results in a red card and ejection from game.


Red card: A card shown to a player that is red in color used by the Referee to signal the player has been banned/ejected from the remainder of the game. It can be a single offense or a result of 2 yellow cards in the same game. This player may not be replaced by a substitute and that team plays one player down the remainder of the game.


Types of Kicks:

Corner kick: Awarded when defending team kicks ball over the end line. Ball is placed by the offensive team at the corner of the field next to the corner flag and kicked toward the goal.


Free kick: Awarded to opposing team when goalie uses hands outside the penalty area/box. Goalkeeper is then ejected from game for intentional handball. Awarded to the team that was fouled at the point of infraction. The kicker gets a 10 yard buffer between the kick and the opposing player.


2 Types of Free kick

Direct: Where the kicker can score without touching another player before the ball enters the goal.


Indirect: For minor fouls which requires the ball to touch another player before it can cross the goal line.


Goal kick: Awarded when attacking team kicks the ball out of bounds over the end line. The defending team places the ball anywhere within the six yard box or on the line. Any player cannot touch the ball until outside the penalty area/box.


Various terms:

Ball:  Sizes 3, 4 and 5. (U6/U8 are size 3), U10/U12 are size 4 and U13 and up are size 5).


Center line (mid-field line): The line that divides the field in half.


Cross: A pass of the ball from the sideline towards the area in front of the goal intended to be headed or kicked into the goal by a teammate.


Draw: The game ends in a tie.


Dribbling: Player runs with/controls ball using any part of their feet to direct the ball with small, quick touches.


Ejection (dismissal): Player is ejected from the game when shown a red card by the Referee.


End line/Goal line: Lines that define the end of the field which extend from the goal line to the corners of the field.


Foul: Referee stops play to assess violation against opposing player. The team that was fouled is awarded a free kick unless on defensive player where foul was committed inside own penalty area/box. Then a penalty kick is awarded.


Goal: The large metal structure at each endline in which the ball is kicked into to score a point.


Goal box: A box 6 yards (varies by age group) in front of the goal in which the ball must be placed for a goal kick.


Hand ball: A deliberate touch using any part of the arm from the finger tips to top of the shoulder. Exceptions are protecting yourself from a shot or kick within a short distance as long as your arms are within the width of the body and not extended.


Header/heading: The player uses their head to re-direct, pass, shoot or strike the ball.                          


Juggle/juggling: A technique to teach ball control where any part of the body except the arms strikes the ball upward to see how many times he/she can “juggle” before it hits the ground.


Offside: Violation where offensive player/attacker is closer to the opponent’s goal (in front of all the defenders) than both the ball and the second to last opponent. There should be 2 defenders in front of the attacker (one defender can be the goalie). The opposing team would then be awarded a free kick. Occasional incorrect calls are made due to the angle or line of sight by the Assistant Referee. You must stay even with or behind the ball. Only the team with the ball can be called offside and it only can occur on the attack side of the field.


Pass: Way to move the ball from one player to another on the field.


Penalty area: 18-yard rectangular box in front of the goal in which the goalkeeper can use hands. Fouls committed in this area result in penalty kicks.


Penalty kick (PK): The result of a player that committed a foul inside his/her own penalty box. The kick is made from 12 yards in front of the goal. No player other than the shooter and opposing goalkeeper can enter the penalty area until after the shot is taken. The goalkeeper cannot advance from the goal line until after the shot is taken but he/she can move side to side.


Pullback: Performed by placing the bottom of the foot on the ball, rolling it backward and turning with it to reverse direction of play.


Shot: An attempt to score by a team not necessarily a shot on goal.


Shot on goal: Any shot resulting in a goal save by the keeper or player. Not all shots are shots on goal.


Shoot out: Used when the game is tied and time has run out. Players must remain in middle of the field and each team gets a certain number of chances against the opposing team goalie to score.


Sideline: The sides of the field.


Slide tackle: Defending player slides on ground with one leg extended to win the ball.


Sweeper: Center mid-fielder that is just in front of or behind the defense that is allowed to roam covering space to steal the ball so the defense has time to recover.


Switch the field: A common term used at older age groups when a running player farthest away from the ball wants the ball carrier to pass the ball to them far across the field. They are switching the field.


Throw-in: Used to restart play when the ball goes out of bounds on the sideline by the team that did not touch it last. Both feet must touch (stationary, step and drag foot or run-up) the ground at the same time the ball is released with an overhead throw using both hands facing the field while staying outside the side line. A goal may not be scored on throw-in. There are no off sides on throw-ins.


Toe kick: Using the toe of the foot to kick the ball should be avoided. Use the inside or instep of the foot which is a larger area to direct the ball better.


Wall: A line/wall of several defenders standing side by side between the goal and ball in order to deflect the free kick from 10 yards away. This blocks the kicker from a straight shot on goal.