Offside? Yellow Card? A Beginner’s Guide to Soccer Lingo (Terminology Explained!)

Soccer, also known as football (internationally), is a sport loved and played by millions of people around the world. Whether you’re a seasoned player or a new fan, understanding the unique terminology and vocabulary of the game is essential to appreciate and enjoy it fully.

From the positions on the field, to the rules and penalties, to the strategies and moves used by players, there’s a whole language to learn. This article will provide a comprehensive guide to the most common and important soccer terms, giving you the tools you need to understand and talk about the game like a pro.

Soccer Terminology

Soccer Player Positions By Name:


(#1) Goalkeeper (aka “Goalie”): The player on a soccer team who is responsible for defending the goal and preventing the opposing team from scoring.


(#2) Defender: A player on a soccer team whose main role is to prevent the opposing team from scoring by defending their own goal.

  • (#2) Fullback: A player on a soccer team who typically plays defense, whose main role is to provide cover and support to the team’s defense.


(#3) Midfielder: A player on a soccer team whose main role is to control the middle of the field and connect the team’s defense and offense.

  • (#3) Wing: A player on a soccer team who typically plays on the sides of the field, usually a midfielder or forward, whose main role is to provide width to the team’s attack.


(#4) Forward: A player on a soccer team whose main role is to score goals and attack the opposing team’s goal.

  • (#4) Striker: A player on a soccer team whose main role is to be the team’s primary goal-scorer.
Soccer Positions and Terminology

Explainer Video Showing Positions, Formations, Roles and Responsibilities:

Common Soccer Terminology:

Penalty Kick:

Penalty kick: A free kick that is awarded to a team after a foul is committed by the opposing team inside their own penalty area.

Corner Kick:

Corner kick: A free kick that is awarded to a team when the ball goes out of bounds over the goal line after being last touched by the opposing team.

Goal Line:

Goal line: The line that separates the field into the goal area and the field of play, where the goalposts and crossbar are located.


Offside: A rule in soccer where a player is deemed to be in an illegal position if they are closer to the opponent’s goal than the ball and the second-to-last defender when the ball is played to them.

Offsides Can be quite confusing. Here Is an Explainer Video For More Details:

Yellow Card:

Yellow card: A caution given to a player by the referee for a minor infraction of the rules.

Red Card:

Red card: A dismissal given to a player by the referee for a serious infraction of the rules.

Free Kick:

Free kick: A kick taken by a team from a stationary position on the field, awarded for a foul or violation committed by the opposing team.


Throw-in: A method of restarting play where the ball is thrown back into the field by a player who is off the field of play.


Dribbling (aka dribble): The act of controlling the ball with one’s feet while moving around on the field.


Tackling: The act of attempting to take the ball away from an opposing player using one’s feet.


Header: A method of striking the ball with one’s head, often used to score goals or clear the ball from one’s own defensive third.


Foul: An infraction of the rules of soccer, such as unsportsmanlike conduct or a dangerous challenge.

Extra Time:

Extra time: Additional time added to the end of a match to compensate for time lost due to injuries, substitutions, or other disruptions.

Penalty Shootout:

Penalty shootout: A method of determining a winner of a match that is tied after extra time, where each team takes turns attempting to score from the penalty spot.


Hat-trick: The achievement of scoring three goals in a single game.

Clean Sheet:

Clean sheet: A game where a team does not concede any goals.


Assist: A pass or action that directly leads to a goal being scored.


Nutmeg: A skill move where a player moves the ball through the opponent’s legs.

Scissor Kick:

Scissor kick: A type of shot or pass made by jumping and kicking the ball with both legs simultaneously.


Bicycle: In soccer, a “bicycle kick” refers to an acrobatic move where a player jumps and kicks the ball backward with both feet simultaneously, with their back facing the goal, in an attempt to score a goal or clear the ball from the defensive third. This move is also known as an “overhead kick” or “scissor kick,” and it is considered one of the most spectacular and difficult moves to execute in soccer. The term “bicycle” comes from the similar motion of pedaling a bicycle.


Volley: A shot made without letting the ball hit the ground first.

Own Goal:

Own goal: A goal scored by a player into their own team’s goal.

Direct Free Kick:

Direct free kick: A free kick in which