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Soccer Terminology

Soccer is an excellent activity for youth of all ages. Whenever you are coaching or learning soccer it is a good idea to start with the soccer terminology. That way everyone is speaking a common language.

So if you are doing a soccer themed activity with Cub Scouts, start with basic soccer terms.

One suggestion I have when working with Cub Scouts is to draw up a large soccer field on poster board and use some Lego figures or something similar to be players. Then you can give a visual demonstration of these terms. Or make a game of it by showing them something and asking if anyone knows the term. For very young Scouts, simplify this soccer terminology even more.

Soccer Terminology: Basic Positions

Scouts should probably start with understanding names for the basic positions

  • Defender: These are the players whose main purpose is to prevent the opposing team from scoring. They normally play on the third of the field which is closest to their own goal (the goal they are defending). Defenders are also called backs.
  • Forward: These players are the ones trying to score. They play on the part of the field closest to the opposing team’s goal. You might also hear the term striker used to refer to a forward, especially one who is a leading scorer on the team.
  • Midfielder: As the name suggests, midfielders play  in the middle third of the field. They serve as a link between the defenders and the forwards.
  • Goalkeeper: This player is the last line of defense for the goal. He is the only player allowed to catch the ball with his hands, but only if he is the area immediately in front of the goal which is called the penalty area. The goalkeeper might also be called the goalie or keeper.

Soccer Terminology: Plays and Actions

It is also important to know some of the soccer terminology for plays or actions. There are many more, but here are some to start with:

  • Tackle: Getting the ball away from an opposing player by kicking it.
  • Center: Sometimes called a cross. Passing the ball from the side of the field toward the center.
  • Save: When the goalkeeper prevents the ball from entering the goal.
  • Clearing: Moving the ball away from the area directly in front of the goal the player is defending.
  • Shielding: Placing your body between the ball and an opposing player when you have possession of the ball.

Soccer Terminology: The Soccer Field or Pitch

Next, cover the basic terms for the different areas on the field:

  • Field: The playing area. It might also be called the pitch.
  • Center circle: The circle in the middle of the field where play begins. It is 20 yards in diameter. Kickoffs take place in the very center of the circle (the center spot). The defending team must stay outside of the circle during kickoffs.
  • Midfield line: The line across the middle of the field which goes through the center circle.
  • Penalty area: It is the larger area in front of each goal, and extends to 18 yards in front of the goal. Fouls in this area might result in a penalty kick. This is also the area where the goalkeeper can use his hands.
  • Goal area: The smaller area in front of each goal.  It extends 6 yards in front of the goal. Indicates where goal kicks are taken.
  • Penalty arc: The arc at the top of the penalty box. Players must stand beyond the penalty arc when a penalty kick is taken.
  • Touchline: This is also called the sideline. The line along each long side of the field.
  • Endline: The line along each short side of the field.
  • Corner Arc: An arc at each corner, 1 yard in radius. Corner kicks must be taken from within this area.

Soccer Terminology: Rules and Penalties

Finally, there is a lot of soccer terminology related to rules and penalties:

  • Foul: When an umpire determines that a player has committed a violation of the rules against an opposing player.
  • Caution: This is also called a yellow card. When a player commits a serious offense, the umpire shows him a yellow card.
  • Red Card: When an umpire shows a player a red card, it indicates that the player is banned from the rest of the game.  This is done for very serious offenses or if a player receives a second caution in a game.
  • Corner Kick: When the defending team sends the ball across the end line, the attacking team gets to take a kick from within the corner arc.
  • Goal Kick: When the attacking team sends the ball across the end line, the defending team gets to take a kick from within the goal area.
  • Indirect Free Kick: A free kick which is taken from the place where a foul occurred. The ball much touch another player before a goal can be scored. This is for less serious fouls.
  • Direct Free Kick: Like an indirect free kick, but it doesn’t have to touch another player before scoring a goal. This is for more serious fouls.
  • Penalty Kick: A kick taken from 12 yards in front of the goal when a contact foul or hand ball takes place inside the penalty area.
  • Offside: Offside is complicated. I have been on the sidelines watching many soccer games where the parents are saying things like “Wasn’t that offside?” or “Why was that offside?”.  Basically, the team approaching the opposing team’s goal  has a player between the goal and the person on their team who has the ball and the ball is passed to him. That is the simple version of this rule, but there is more to it.
  • Charging: Running at the player who has the ball or who is trying to gain possession of the ball and attempting to unbalance him. This foul results in an indirect free kick.
  • Intentional Tripping: Tripping a member of the opposing team on purpose. This foul results in a direct free kick.
  • Pushing: Pushing another player as with an elbow. This foul results in a direct free kick.
  • Dangerous Play: A play which might injure somebody such as high kicking. This can include a play which is dangerous to the person committing the foul.  This foul results in an indirect free kick.
  • Obstruction: When a defensive player, instead of going after the ball, intentionally obstructs an opponent to prevent him from tackling the player who is receiving the ball. This foul results in an indirect free kick.

Cub Scout Soccer Theme

A soccer theme will add fun to a pack meeting. Cub Scouts enjoy running around!

Soccer Troop Program Feature

Older Scouts can plan a full month of activities around the sport of soccer. This program feature includes ideas for meetings and a weekend outing, all based on soccer.

Soccer Sprint

Soccer Sprint is an online game from Scout Life Magazine

Soccer Drills

Soccer Activities


One response to “Soccer Terminology”

  1. Mark Craner Avatar
    Mark Craner

    I agree, it’s very important to establish the ‘language’ of what you are teaching. Great lesson learned here. I twittered your post, great job!

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