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Names of Positions/General Terms

*note – the players will also be learning the US Soccer positional numbering system.

DEFENDER or BACK - Player on the back line and is more defensive minded and skilled. Key attributes are endurance, leg strength, and defensive positioning; also called a marking backcenter backfullbacksweeper or stopper depending on formation.

MIDFIELDER or MIDDIE - Player on the middle line responsible for both offense and defense as needed. Key attributes are passing skills, endurance, ball control, speed, and field vision; also called a midcenter midattacking mid, defensive mid, wing, or right/left mid depending on formation.

FORWARD or STRIKER - Player on the front line and is more offensive minded and skilled. Key attributes are speed, footwork, leg strength, and anticipation.

KEEPER or GOALIE - Protects the goal from opponents’ shots. Key attributes are hand-eye coordination, spatial positioning, and leg strength. 

HIGH PRESSURE –Philosophy of attacking the ball vigorously in all areas of the field, more man on man oriented.

LOW PRESSURE – Philosophy of more spatial defending and guarding of areas and passing lanes rather than players.


Passing Terms


CROSS- Pass from the outside into the center of the field, typically into the box for a scoring opportunity.

THROUGH- Pass from one player to another forward through the defense, typically as the last pass before a scoring run by a forward or mid. Also called a lead pass or split pass if between two defenders to space.

SQUARE- Pass to a player even in relation to the goal.

DROP- Pass to a player behind or at an angle backwards in relation to the goal.

GIVE AND GO or WALL PASSING- Series of passes between players where the first recipient returns the ball to the first passer, typically with a one-touch pass.

RECEIVING- Collecting and controlling a pass effectively.

PASS TO SPACE- Intentionally passing the ball to open space away from pressure for a teammate to run it down. Can be a long pass or a short pass.

PASS TO FEET – Deliver a pass directly to a teammate for possession purposes

SHORT-SHORT-LONG – Offensive philosophy of two short passes then a long pass either to space or player making a run.





Offense Terms


STRIKE- Take a shot on goal.

FINISH- Score a goal.

SUPPORT- Approach the player controlling the ball or change angle of position in order to provide passing options.

WIDE or WIDTH- Outside players maximize the field and spread the defense by playing toward the sidelines.

SHIELDING- Using your body to keep a defender from taking the ball. Also applies in defense situations.

OFFSIDE- When a player is behind the second to last defender (including keeper) when the ball is last played forward.

BACK DOOR- When an offensive player runs toward the goalpost opposite the current position of the ball to receive a CROSS or a rebound from a STRIKE.

FOLLOW- Continue moving to the goal after a STRIKE in order to collect rebounds or mistakes.

SWITCH or OVERLAP- When players effectively change positions during an attack to facilitate ball movement and create more space in the defense.

MAN ON- Said to a player with the ball who is being approached by a defender. Also used in defensive situations when ball is being controlled on defensive side of the field.

POSSESS – Controlling the ball by passing and/or dribbling to space away from pressure.

CHECK TO- Said to a player who is about to receive the ball when he/she needs to come towards the passer in order to keep the ball from a defender.









Defense Terms


MARK/MARK UP- Defend tightly to an attacking player.

CLEAR- Delivering the ball outside and away from the player’s own goal with sole purpose of relieving pressure.

DROP IN/TUCK IN- Outside defenders and midfielders drop towards their own goal to help defend.

TACKLE- Attempt to take the ball directly from an opposing attacking player.

POSITIONING/SIDE-ON - Placing your body in between the attacker and their desired target, using your body to prevent the attacker from going where they want to go (usually towards the goal).

TRANSITION- Switching from defense to offense; usually applies as soon as the ball is in control of the defense.

PRIMARY DEFENDER – First defender to the player with the ball, responsibility is to control progress and/or take the ball if possible.

SECONDARY DEFENDER – Support defender, responsibility is to guard passing lane and/or take the ball.


Field Terms (The Pitch)


CENTER OF THE FIELD - The center of the field is the area between the 2 goals (as opposed to the wings or sides of the field where the sidelines are). If you say "center it", you usually mean to kick the ball to the area in front of the goal. 

MIDDLE OF THE FIELD - The middle of the field is the area of the field that includes the Midfield Line. Many people say "go to the middle" when they really mean "go to the center". 

ATTACKING THIRD - The Attacking Third is the third of the field that is closest to our opponent's goal.

MIDDLE THIRD - The Middle Third is the third of the field that includes the Midfield Line and the Center Circle. 

DEFENSIVE THIRD - The Defensive Third is the third of the field that includes our goal.

THE “18” – The line at the top of the Penalty Box. This may vary depending on age and field dimensions.

THE “6” – The line at the top of the Goal Box. This may vary depending on age and field dimensions.

CENTER CIRCLE – The circular marking with a 10-yard radius from which kickoffs are taken to start or restart the game. 

CORNER ARC – An arc or quarter-circle with a radius of 1 yard located at each of the 4 corners of the soccer field. The ball must be kicked from inside this arc on a corner kick. 

GOAL LINE – The boundary line extending from corner to corner along its width at each end. 

GOAL BOX – The rectangular area (20 x 6 yds) marked within the penalty area (or inside the larger rectangle) and directly in front of goal. Marks the area from which all goal kicks must be taken. The size may vary depending on age and field dimensions.

MIDFIELD LINE – The line in the center of the soccer field that divides the field in half along its width and runs parallel to the goals. A player cannot be offside on their half of the field. 

PENALTY BOX – The larger rectangle (18 x 44 yds) in front of the goal that includes the GOAL BOX. Marks both where the goalkeeper is allowed to touch the ball with his hands and the area where harsh fouls committed by the defending team result in penalty kicks. The size may vary depending on age and field dimensions.

PENALTY ARC – The arc at the top of the penalty area. Designates how far back all players must be away from the ball while a penalty kick is being taken. 

PENALTY KICK SPOT or PK DOT – The hash mark on the soccer field from which penalty kicks are taken between the 18 and the 6.

TOUCH LINE – The line that runs along the length of each side of the field, commonly called the sideline in other sports. 

Play, Eat, Sleep, Soccer 
Check out these websites for all of the latest soccer news, trivia, videos, highlights and more! 
British Primier League Soccer-
US National Teams-
Major League Soccer-
UEFA Champions League-
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