Soccer Definitions - S PDF Print E-mail

A foul occurring when 2 or more teammates "hold" an opponent by boxing him in. Penalized by a direct kick.

When the goalkeeper catches or blocks a shot and thereby prevents the other team from scoring a goal.

The term has 2 meanings. It is a type of Feint (See "How To Teach Feints & Fancy Footwork"), & Scissors Kick is also another name for "Bicycle Kick". (See "Bicycle Kick").

(aka "Danger Zone"). See "Danger Zone".

Second Attacker
An attacker who is within a short to medium passing distance from the First Attacker. (See "First Attacker" & "Third Attacker").

Second Defender
There should always be a Second Defender. (See "Support" & "Shift & Sag").

Second Sweeper
The concept of having the goalkeeper push up to the edge of the Penalty Box (or even farther) when your team is "pushed up" on the attack so he can kick away long through balls (or long cleared balls) that the other team might kick into the open space behind the FB's. This can work very well in youth soccer on a larger field (e.g., U-10 or U-12) because the kids can only kick the ball 25-35 yards in the air; thus, the goalkeeper doesn't have to worry as much about getting kicked over as a high school goalkeeper would. (See "Goalkeeper").

Select Soccer
(aka "Travel" soccer). There are 2 types of youth soccer, recreational and select (which is also called travel soccer). "Select" soccer is more competitive & teams often practice several times per week & play year-round. There are usually try-outs for these teams, players can be "cut" and playing time is not guaranteed. The focus of these teams is often on winning tournaments & that is how their success is judged. They are sometimes called "travel" teams because they travel to tournaments in other cities. These teams often have paid coaches or a paid trainer. They have been criticized for having too much focus on tournament play and not enough emphasis on training. (See "Recreational Soccer").

Send It
A verbal signal to send a "through ball". (See "Verbal Signals" & "Through Ball").

Send it Through
See "Pass To Space", "Pass To Yourself" & "Through Ball".

Send Off
A player must be "sent off" if he receives a "red card". This means he is made to leave the field and cannot return. In some leagues he may not be replaced & his team must play "one player short". (See "Cards").

Serious Foul Play
A player must be given a "red card" & "sent off" for serious foul play.

A pass.

Set Play
A planned play that usually occurs after a "re-start" (i.e., any time play is stopped & restarted, such as on a corner kick or free kick) but also on kick-offs & on some throw-ins, where players are assigned a specific task. If a Set Play occurs on a re-start it may be called a "Re-start Play".

To control the ball, for example when receiving a hard pass. ("He couldn't settle the ball".)

Shadow Marking
Assigning a defender to mark a dangerous attacker closely.

Shadow Play
A training technique in which players try to follow the movements of a coach or of a leader.

Refers to whether the players on your team are generally maintaining correct distances between each other so there is "support" & coverage when you are on offense or defense. If they are bunched up or players are too far apart ("stretched") or your FB's are overlapping MF's, etc., then you don't have good "shape". (See "Stretched Defense" and "Sag" & "Support").

(aka "Jockeying). See "Jockeying".

(aka Screen). When a player legally positions his body so the defender can't touch the ball without fouling. (e.g., The ballhandler shifts the ball to his foot that is farthest from the defender, stays low with his knees bent & feet apart so he can't get easily pushed off the ball & stiffens the arm nearest the defender; the arm can't be used to push the defender but it can point down & slightly out so he's ready to withstand a "Shoulder Charge"). See "Strength On the Ball" & "Shoulder Charge".

Attackers & defenders should constantly be shifting (as the ball moves) so they are in a position to provide "support" or "cover". (See "Support", "Cover", "Shift & Sag" & "Support Distance").

Shift and Sag
A convenient term for describing what you want your players to do on defense. It has 2 meanings:
First, as attackers move the ball around the field, defenders should be constantly shifting to maintain good defensive coverage and the players farthest from the ball should "sag" back so they are in position to stop an attack on goal (this provides additional "depth" & concentration of defenders between the ball & the goal). This creates "multiple layers" of defenders in a position to stop an attack on goal. For example, if the ball is on the left side & the LF is the First Defender, then the LMF should be a Second Defender, the CF should also be a Second Defender, & the LFB should be the Third Defender. The CF should shift so he is within 5 - 7 steps of the ball & "sag" back a little so if the onball attacker tries to go to the left of the LF the CF is there to stop the penetration. The CMF should also "shift & sag" so he is between the CF & the goal (i.e., 10 - 15 steps behind the CF), & the CFB should do the same behind the CMF. On the right side, the RF should sag behind the CF, but not go past the center of the field (i.e., the imaginary line between the goals), etc. These relationships are shown in the diagram below. If the ball were on the right side, it would be reversed. Note that all defenders don't try to stay precisely between the ball & the goal (if they did you would have no "width" & your field "coverage" would be poor); however, they are in position to "recover" in time to stop an attack on goal.
Second, when a team loses the ball, the players nearest the ball should stay & try to be "First or Second Defenders" & slow down the attack. But all others should quickly "sag" back toward their goal (i.e., "Recover") to create multiple layers of defenders. This doesn't mean that everyone runs back in front of the goal; if they do it just makes it easy for the attackers to reach your Danger Zone. A rule of thumb is that the Fullbacks should drop back far enough that a long chip pass won't go over their heads. Also, keep in mind that even when the FB's have sagged back near their goal, you must leave some MF's & F's outside the Penalty Box in a position to win cleared balls & to receive passes so you can counterattack. If all your players are in the Penalty Box you won't be able to get the ball off your end of the field. (See "Defense", "Depth", "Support", "Support Distance & Relative Position" "Formations", "Zone Defense", "First Defender", "Recover", "Funnel" "Mark", "Formations" & "Pressure").

See "Drive", "Pass", "Chip", "Flick Pass" & "Toe Kick".

Shoot Out
When a game is tied and time has run out, a "shoot-out" is one way to break the tie (another is to play overtime periods). A shoot-out is similar to a penalty kick, except the players must all stay in the middle of the field. Each team will receive a certain number of chances to score.

To play "short" means to play with fewer than the allowed number of players.

Short Corner
A corner kick where the ball is put into play with a short pass instead of a long kick. Once put into play, the "Offside Rule" applies. (See "Corner Kick" and "Long Corner").

Short Game
(aka Short-Ball Game, Controlled Game or Indirect Attack). Style of offensive play based on short passes (See "Long-Ball Game").

Shoulder Charge
(aka "Fair Charging"). A type of "tackle" which can be legally used to try to "win" (i.e., gain possession of) the ball. To be legal, it: (a) cannot take place from behind (b) is only permitted within playing distance (i.e., 3 feet) of the ball (c) cannot be violent or dangerous (d) must be intended to win the ball & not just to knock down the opponent (e) must be shoulder to shoulder (not to the opponents chest or back) with the arms (especially elbows) close to the body (f) the player must have at least one foot on the ground (i.e., he can't leap). (See "Tackle", "Fouls", "Shielding", "Strength On the Ball" & "Win The Ball").

When a receiver makes it obvious to the ballhandler that he is open for the pass or when the passer makes it obvious to the receiver that he wants to pass to him. The passer can do this by looking at the receiver or going toward him or by turning toward him. Three ways the receiver can to do this are to come back toward the ball, by "checking off", or by turning toward the ballhandler in a "ready" stance. (See "Checking Off" & "Target Player").

Sidearm Throw
A sidearm throw by the goalkeeper is to be avoided because the ball will curve. See "Overarm Throw".

Side Line
(aka "Touch Line"). The long sides of the field. Length will vary by age group & your club rules. (See "Field Diagram").

(aka "Goal Area" or "Goal Box"). The Goal Box extends 6 yards from the Goal and Goal Line (See "Goal Box").

Slide Tackle
When a defender slides on the ground and attempts to kick the ball away from the ballhandler. If the tackle is careless, reckless or uses excessive force or the tackler first contacts the ballhandler instead of the ball, a foul should be called. If the tackle is from behind (from an angle that doesn't allow the ballhandler to see it coming) a "Red Card" can be given. Some youth & adult leagues don't allow slide tackling because too many injuries result. I don't teach it & don't allow it. Beside the possibility of getting hurt or hurting someone else, you can't play if you are laying on the ground. (See "Tackle" and "Fouls").

The space between defenders. An attacker might pass the ball through the "slot", in which case it can be called a "slotted ball". (See "Channel").

Soft Pass
A ground pass with the proper "weight" (i.e., pace & spin) & so the receiver can take a good one-touch shot on it; especially a ball played to space within shooting range of the goal.

Space = Time
Attackers want to get away from defenders into open space so they have time & room to attack. Defenders don't want to give attackers space, especially if the attackers are in scoring range (i.e., in the "Danger Zone").

Spacial Defense
(aka "Zone Defense", "Mark the Ball" & Space Marking).

Spot Kick
A "Penalty Kick".

Speed Dribbling
Speed Dribbling is a way to move the ball fast when you are open. Instead of keeping it close to the feet, you kick it forward and run to it (being sure to get there before an opponent), then kick it forward again, etc. (See "Pass to Yourself" and "Control Dribbling").

Spread the Field
(aka "Stretch The Field"). When you are attacking, you want to "spread" or "stretch" the defenders to open up holes in the defense. By spreading the defenders, you force them to cover a larger area so the defenders are farther apart & can't do as good a job of supporting each other. (On the other hand, if you are defending, you want to be careful to not get too spread out or stretched). One way to spread out a defense is by using "width" on the attack. One example of this is if you spread your FB's wide on your goal kick in order to force the defenders to cover the entire width of the field. (The Goal Kick Set-Up diagram in the back of this book shows this). Another example of spreading the field is to be sure your forwards stay a pass apart. You can also stretch the length of the defense. An example of this is if the other team is "pushed up" and you put your fastest forward at the halfway line & then send "through balls" or long cleared kicks into the open space between the other team's FB's & their goalkeeper. If you do this a few times the other team won't be able to push up as far and you will have "stretched" their defense. (See "Width In Attack", "Width In Defense", "Stretched Defense", "Stretch The Field" & "Goal Kick").

Square Defense
(aka "Flat Defense"). See "Flat Defense".

Square Pass
(aka "Flat Pass"). A pass across the field (parallel to the end line) A "cross" can be a type of square pass. (See "Cross The Ball").

In youth soccer, it is useful to talk about distances in terms of "steps", instead of yards. When used in this book, the term "steps" refers to the size step a player in that age group might take, with U-12 being adult size. This term is useful because it adjusts the distances to fit the size of the player. For example, if it says the CF should be 5 - 7 steps from the LF, the distance is shorter for U-8 than for U-12.

Abbreviation for Stopper. (See "Stopper").

Stop / Turn
A method of turning where the player uses the bottom to his foot to stop the ball while on a fast run, lets his momentum carry him a step or two past the ball, but quickly turns and comes back to the ball. Similar to a "Pullback" except the ball is not pulled back and the player makes the turn away from the ball, whereas on a Pullback the player turns toward the ball.

Stoppage Time
Time added to international games to extend the game to make up for "stoppages" such as injuries, substitution, time wasting, lost ball, etc. This is added by the center referee & he is the only one who knows how much "stoppage time" is being added &, therefore, the only one who knows exactly when the game will end. This is also mistakenly called "Injury Time".

(abbreviation is "ST") A center fullback or a player who plays between the FB's & MF's who is good at stopping attacks up the center. Also can refer to a defender who marks the opponents' most dangerous striker. Often a strong, tough, brave player. Similar to defensive midfielders. See "Tips" for more about how & when to play a Stopper.

Straight Lines
Sideways, Forward or Backward, as opposed to diagonals. Encourage attacking players to play angles as well as straight lines, including diagonal passes onto open space.

See "Formations", "Creating Space", "Attacking" & "Defense".

Strength on the Ball
Refers to how hard it is to steal (i.e., "dispossess") the ball from the ballhandler. You will notice that it is easy to steal the ball from some players but difficult to steal the ball from others. The difference depends on footwork, shielding & "strength on the ball". To protect the ball, the ballhandler should shift it to the foot farthest from the opponent and, if the opponent is close by, prepare for a "Shoulder Charge" by bending his knees, bracing himself & stiffening the arm closest to the opponent. Players should always keep their knees bent, even if they don't have the ball. At advanced levels, the ballhandler will stay very low when defenders are close by & may drop his shoulder to keep from getting pushed off the ball. You want your players to have "strength on the ball" so they are not easily pushed off the ball. (See "Shielding", "Shoulder Charge" & "Drag The Ball").

See "Warming Up & Stretching".

Stretch the Field
(aka "Spread The Field"). See "Spread The Field", "Stretched Defense", "Width In Attack" & "Width In Defense").

Stretched Defense
When defenders are too far apart. A stretched defense has holes & is vulnerable to attack. (See "Stretch The Field", "Width In Attack" & "Width In Defense").

Strike the Ball
Kick the ball, head it, knee it, etc. A player can strike the ball with any part of the body except the hand, arm or shoulder.

A scoring forward, usually a center forward (as distinguished from a "wing" forward, whose job might be to cross the ball to a striker) who is very skilled at scoring. There could be one or two of these. The term implies a player who is great at shooting & "finishing". This player will sometimes stay "pushed up" when the rest of the team is back on defense. Many great strikers are poor defenders & if so they are called "pure strikers". You can argue that a great striker is born & that the instincts & quickness required can't be taught. (See "Forward", "Wing")

Strong Side
The side of the field (i.e., the side, not the end) that the ball is on. The other side is called the "weak side" or "back side".

Styles of Play
On offense, the two primary styles of play are a "direct attack" (which tries to quickly move the ball into scoring range, often using long passes, "through balls", or long air balls) and an "indirect attack" (also called a "Possession" style, which is slower and uses many short passes, often sideways or backwards, while looking for a weakness in the defense.) On defense, the two primary styles of play are a "zone defense" and a "marking defense" (i.e., a man-to-man defense). There are several different terms that describe other styles of play. For example, "passing to feet" vs. "passing to space" and "onball attacking" vs. "off-the-ball attacking". With most formations you can use different styles of play.
When comparing styles of play, you can look to other sports for analogies. In American football, for example, the dominant style of play used to be the running game, but today more teams emphasize the pass than the run. The best teams recognize that a balanced attack that uses both the run and the pass is best. In American football, if a team only runs, the defense will crowd the offense to stop the run. In soccer, if a team only attacks with short passes, the opposing defenders will push up to the halfway line or farther. The threat of through balls and long balls "stretches the defense" and is what forces defenders to stay honest. Another analogy to American football is that when you have the ball near your goal you definitely do not want to turn the ball over. In American football, even the best teams will protect the ball and punt. For this reason, it is best for most rec soccer teams to clear the ball away from their goal if there is any pressure, and hope they can win the cleared balls at least 50% of the time. (Although if there isn't pressure or you have skilled FB's you can "build play from the back").
If you watch a lot of professional soccer from different countries you will see that most good teams from around the world control the ball and build play in the midfield, but also incorporate through balls and long balls into their attack (i.e., they mix the indirect and direct styles of play). In fact, depending upon the league, between 15% and 30% of the goals scored are a result of through balls or long air balls.
The style of attack you teach your team should depend on the ability of your players, the amount of time you can practice, and your coaching ability. The style of attack that will work best also depends on the type of defense the other team plays (e.g., whether they are "pushed up" or "defending deep") and whether your Forwards are faster than the other teams FB's. For example, if the opposing FB's push up and your Forwards are faster, you should try through balls and quick counterattacks. A select team that practices 4 hours per week can play a better short passing game than a typical rec team. In any case, you will want to teach the concepts of "First Attacker", "Second Attacker", and "Third Attacker".
As for a defensive style of play, a "zone defense" and "First Defender/Second Defender" works best for most rec teams. This is because many rec FB's don't have the speed or stamina to play a man-to-man style of defense. How to teach a zone defense is explained at "Zone Defense" and at "Support". (See "Attacking", "Attacking Plan", "Boom Ball", "Counterattack", "Creating Space", "Direct Attack", "Possession Style", "Spread the Field", "Stretched Defense", "Through Ball", "Long-Ball Game", "Over the Top", "Zone Defense", "Support", "First Attacker", "Formations", and the section titled "Scoring More Goals").

(aka "Subbing"). Youth Leagues usually either allow "unlimited substitutions" (which usually means the coach can "sub" as many times as he wants during the game but only at certain times such as goal kicks) or only allow subbing between quarters. If "unlimited substitution" is allowed, you can usually sub at these times (check with your league to see if they follow these rules): after a goal kick is called for either team, after a goal by either team, after a throw-in is called for your team (not the other team), at halftime, and at an injury time-out if the other team replaces a player (but you can only sub as many players as they do). You usually cannot sub on corners, or free kicks. Substitutions may only occur with the Referees permission (you can get his attention by yelling "sub"). Players entering & leaving the field should only do so at the halfway line. The rules technically say that a player must leave the field first before his sub can enter the field. Many referees don't enforce this in youth games because there is so much substitution. However, if the Ref says "call them off first", this is what he means. Often, midfielders are subbed the most because they run the most. (See "Unlimited Substitutions").

You want to have "support" on both offense & defense. "Support" refers to having teammates who are properly positioned near the ball (i.e., within passing range on offense and within 5 - 10 steps of the First Defender on defense):
A. On Offense, there should always be 2 or more teammates within passing range (7-15 steps, depending on age) who are open for a pass. One of these can be following the ballhandler (a "trailer"). The key concepts are "First Atacker", "Second Attacker", and "Third Attacker". (See "First Attacker", "Push Up", "Support Distance & Relative Position", "Attacking", "Attacking Tips" in Chapter 1, & Chapter 2, "How To Teach Offense & Defense").
B. On Defense there are 3 key concepts:
"First Defender" - The player closest to the ball must challenge the ball & try to slow down the attack or block a shot, and
"Second Defenders" - The second closest player must be the Second Defender and back up the First Defender and stay between the ball and the goal. The Second Defender should stay about 5-7 steps behind the First Defender and should become the First Defender if the ballhandler gets by the initial First Defender. (In this case, the initial defender should drop back to help the defender who was backing him up).
"Shift & Sag" - As soon as the ball is lost, your team should quickly "transition" from offense to defense; the closest player should become the "First Defender" the next two closest should become the "Second Defenders" & all the rest should "shift & sag". What this means is to shift so they are generally between the ball & the goal & sag back to create multiple layers of defenders (which is called "Depth"). There are 2 rules that you can use to teach your players how to "shift & sag" on defense:
The left & right players (e.g., the LMF & RMF or LFB & RFB) should not go past the center of the field.
Don't go past a teammate unless it is an emergency & never go past two teammates. These rules apply to defense but not offense because more creativity is allowed on offense. (See "Shift & Sag", "Shape", "Depth", "Cover", "Width In Defense", "Support Distance & Relative Position", "Zone Defense", "Defense" & "Flat Defense").
C. All players should shift toward the ball whether on offense or defense. Ideally, there should be multiple layers of support on both offense & defense.

Support Distance & Relative Position
On offense, you want to "spread the field" & to add "width". This means the distance between players (especially F's & MF's) will be greater than when they are on defense. The players still "support" each other, but on offense, players will be more "square" than when on defense. For example, if your LF has the ball & is attacking, your CF may be even with him or in front of him & a long pass away. Whereas, on defense, if your LF is the First Defender, your CF will probably sag back & move within 5-7 steps so he can provide defensive "support" (meaning he is helping contain the attacker & is a Second Defender because if the ballhandler moves his way he must become the First Defender) & "cover" (meaning that he is covering space so there isn't a hole for the attacker's to easily penetrate; in other words, if he wasn't covering that space the attackers would go through it to penetrate the defense). (See "Support", "Cover", "Depth", "Zone Defense", "Sag" & "Creating Space").

Abbreviation for Sweeper. (See "Sweeper").

(abb. "SW"). A fast & tough player who usually plays just behind the fullbacks, although he is allowed to roam. His job is to cover the space between the fullbacks & the goalkeeper & to stop "breakaways" & "sweep up" the ball or kick long "through balls" out of bounds so the defense has time to recover. Using a sweeper increases your "depth" & field coverage and therefore allows your fullbacks to push up to support your attack. A Sweeper is like a free safety in American football. A good sweeper must be fast & willing to make contact to steal the ball. A Sweeper can be like a coach on the field and can help direct adjustments, since he is usually the deepest field player and in a good position to view the game. The trend with pro teams is to not use a Sweeper but instead to use a "flatback four", which is 4 Fullbacks playing a zone defense and using a lot of "offside traps". A Sweeper was originally used to back up man-to-man defenses. However, using a Sweeper can also be used with a "Zone Defense" (i.e., "Spatial Defense"). A great Sweeper who has speed and great coverage skills can allow your Fullbacks to push up to support your attack, even if they aren't fast, because he will slow down the attack and give your Fullbacks time to recover. However, if you don't have a great Sweeper, a better alternative for most recreational teams is to use a 3-2-2-3 formation where the FB's stay deep, as described in "Formations". (See "Push Up", "Formations", "Through Ball", "Breakaway", "Second Sweeper", "Support", "Cover", "Defending Deep" & "Zone Defense").

On offense, when 2 players swap position in an effort to get open. On defense, when 2 defenders are man-marking & swap the men they are marking. In both cases, one of the players might yell "switch" to the other.

Switch the Play or Switch Fields
(aka Change Fields, Switch Fields or Reverse The Field ). An attacking concept where the ball is quickly passed from one side to the other (i.e., to the "weak side") where the defense is weaker. This is usually done by a long pass (often a chip pass). This also has the effect of loosening or stretching the defense so it is less compact & easier to penetrate. (See "Strong Side", "Back Side", "Width In Attack" & "Width In Defense").

System of Play
(aka "Formation"). See "Formations".

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