Soccer Definitions - C PDF Print E-mail

Caps
The number of official international games a player has played in for his or her national team. Reputedly, at the turn of the century these players actually received a "cap" for each game. They don't now but the term is still used. (e.g., "he has 20 caps" or "he has been capped 20 times").

Cards
There are 2 colors of "cards" which the referee will hold up to indicate serious fouls or behavior which won't be tolerated. He carries these cards in his shirt pocket, so if he reaches for his pocket it's a bad sign for the player who committed the foul. These cards are about the size of a playing card and one is yellow and the other is red. When a card is to be given (it isn't actually given to the offending player, it is actually just shown to him and to everyone else) the referee will stop the game, call the player over, hold up the card and write the player's name in his notebook. This is called "booking" the player and when it happens the player has been "booked", (e.g., "he was booked"). Any time a Yellow or Red Card is shown, a "direct" or "indirect kick" will also be awarded. (See "Fouls", "Deck" & "Booking").
Yellow Card - Indicates a formal "caution"
A player who receives 2 Yellow Cards is given a Red Card & ejected. FIFA rules do not require a player to leave the field for the first yellow card. However, some leagues' rules do. You must go by your league's rules.
Red Card - A player must be shown a Red Card and "sent off" (i.e., made to leave the field)
A player shown a "Red Card" & sent off may not be replaced during that game (i.e., his team must play a player "short" for the rest of the game.

Carry
Another word for "dribble".

Caution
An official disciplinary action where the Referee shows a player a "Yellow Card". (See "Cards").

Center Back
A center fullback. If you played 4 FB's, there would be 2 center backs; one would be "left" & the other "right".

Center Circle
Circle in the center of the field; usually 6 yard radius for U-8, 8 yard radius for U-10 & 10 yard radius for U-12 & older. On a kick off, defenders must stay outside this until the ball is moved by the kicker. (See "Kick Off").

Center Mark
A painted mark at the center of the Center Circle on which the ball is placed for a kick-off.

Center the Ball
(aka "Cross The Ball" or "Center It"). Refers to an attacker kicking or passing the ball to the area in front of the opponent's goal. Attackers often pass the ball to this space without having a receiver in mind because it can create a scoring opportunity. (This is called "passing to space"). This term is more descriptive of what you want a youth team to do than "cross the ball". (See "Cross The Ball", "Creating Space", "First Attacker", & "Pass to Space").

Center of the Field
(aka The Center). It is often necessary to refer to the "center of the field" (e.g., "don't go past the center"). The center of the field is roughly the area between the two goals and is where the CFB (Center Fullback), CMF (Center Midfielder) & CF (Center Forward) usually start the game. The term "middle" is sometimes incorrectly used to refer to the "center". (See "Middle" and "Center The Ball").

CF
Center Forward.

CFB
Center Fullback.

Challenge
When a defender tries to steal the ball it is called a "challenge" (e.g., "He challenged for the ball").

Channel
There are two meanings:
The defender should angle his body & position himself to "channel" the "onball attacker" toward the side line. This is the same concept as "turning" the ballhandler, but if you "channel" the ballhandler you stay with him & keep trying force him wide. This is a desirable tactic because it poses much less risk to the defending team than if the ballhandler is able to turn into the center of the field. The Defender should favor the center and turn his body so the ballhandler cannot easily get past him to the center of the field. This encourages the ballhandler to go to the outside. Forcing the ballhandler to the outside reduces the risk of the ballhandler getting a clean shot on the front of the goal (i.e., if he gets off a shot from the sideline area he has a bad angle).
The term also refers to a passing lane. (See "Slot").

Checking Off
(aka Checking Run and Pull-Return) When a receiver runs away from the ballhandler but then quickly runs back toward the ballhandler. The idea is to draw the defender away from the ballhandler to create an open space that the receiver can then run back into in hopes of being open for a pass. (i.e., the first run was a "dummy run"). The opposite of a "hooking run". (See "Hooking Run", "Show", "Third Man Running", "Movement Off-The-Ball" & "Creating Space").

Chest Pass
A pass made when a player receives the ball with his chest but instead of pulling the chest in to "cushion" the ball so it drops, the receiver tightens his chest & pushes it forward & turns it to direct the ball as a pass to a teammate. Especially useful when in scoring range. (See "Chest Reception").

Chest Reception
The chest can be used to receive or re-direct the ball. There are 3 teaching points: (1) "Cushion" the ball by pulling in the chest & exhaling on contact (2) Hold arms down or out to the sides so there is no chance of the ball accidentally hitting the arm & being called for a handball (3) Turn the chest on impact to direct the ball in the direction you want it to go. (U-12 & up). (See "Chest Pass).

Chip
Similar to golf, a chip pass or chip shot is made by a jabbing motion down & under the ball so the ball goes up into the air. Chipped balls have backspin. The ball can be approached straight on or from the side & can be struck with the top of the laces or the side of the laces, but in all cases the ball is struck low using a downward jabbing motion with little follow-through. The more downward the strike, the more rapidly the ball rises & the more backspin. A chip shot will only work if the goalkeeper is out of the goal or if the goal is too tall for the goalkeeper to cover. But it can be very effective in youth leagues against a short goalkeeper in a tall goal. Not all "airballs" are chips. A ball struck low with a normal backswing and a normal follow-through will also rise into the air. This ball, called a "lofted drive", will not rise as quickly as a chip and has little or no backspin, but it will travel farther & with more pace. When coaching a Rec team, I often used the word "chip" in a generic way when I wanted a player to send a pass "over the top" of the opponents or to "clear" the ball, because it was easier than saying "kick a lofted ball with backspin". See "Chips Game" and "Chip Pass or Shot" in "Techniques & Fancy Footwork", which is part of the Premium site. (See "Lofted Drive" and "Hopped Pass").

Chip
Similar to golf, a chip pass or chip shot is made by a jabbing motion down & under the ball so the ball goes up into the air. Chipped balls have backspin. The ball can be approached straight on or from the side & can be struck with the top of the laces or the side of the laces, but in all cases the ball is struck low using a downward jabbing motion with little follow-through. The more downward the strike, the more rapidly the ball rises & the more backspin. A chip shot will only work if the goalkeeper is out of the goal or if the goal is too tall for the goalkeeper to cover. But it can be very effective in youth leagues against a short goalkeeper in a tall goal. Not all "airballs" are chips. A ball struck low with a normal backswing and a normal follow-through will also rise into the air. This ball, called a "lofted drive", will not rise as quickly as a chip and has little or no backspin, but it will travel farther & with more pace. When coaching a Rec team, I often used the word "chip" in a generic way when I wanted a player to send a pass "over the top" of the opponents or to "clear" the ball, because it was easier than saying "kick a lofted ball with backspin". See "Chips Game" and "Chip Pass or Shot" in "Techniques & Fancy Footwork", which is part of the Premium site. (See "Lofted Drive" and "Hopped Pass").

Clear
(aka Clear the Ball). The first priority of defenders is to "clear the ball" (i.e., kick the ball) out of the "Danger Zone" (i.e., out of scoring range), preferably to the side, not down the center. If the ball is in front of your goal & in scoring range, they should "clear it" because a turnover would give the other team a scoring opportunity. This is especially true in recreational soccer where players often don't have great skills. If your defenders clear the ball (as opposed to trying to control it), you should leave your forwards a long kick out so they can try to win the cleared balls. At higher levels of play the emphasis is on controlling the ball, but in rec leagues teams often don't have the skill to "build an attack from the back", as it is called when the FB's pass to the MF's who pass to the F's, etc.

CMF
Center Midfielder.

Combination Play
When attacking players work together to execute a play. Examples are a "Give & Go", an "Overlapping Run", a "Takeover", a "Hooking Run" and "Checking Off".

Commit the Defender
A misdirection play such as a feint, a wall pass or an "off- the- ball" or "onball" run that causes the defender to commit in a direction that is advantageous to the attacking team. Another way to commit the defender is for the ballhandler to dribble toward him & then pass the ball at the last second when it is too late for the defender to guard the receiver.

Contain
Any tactic or technique that is used to restrict an opponent's movement (e.g., "We must contain their Forwards").

Control Dribbling
When a player is "in traffic" he must keep the ball close to his feet so he can protect it; this is called Control Dribbling. However, if he is in the open he will want to "Speed Dribble" so he can run faster with the ball.

Corner Arc
The small arc at each corner of the field.

Corner Flags
The flags marking the corners of the field.

Corner Kick
(aka Corners). When the ball goes out of bounds over the end line & was last touched by the defending team, the attacking team inbounds it from the nearest corner by kicking it in from the Corner Arc. Defenders must stay 6 yards back if U-8, 8 yards if U-10 & 10 yards back if U-12 or older. (If they don't, they might get a yellow card). The ball may be placed anywhere inside the Corner Arc or on the Corner Arc lines. There are 2 types of corners: a "Long Corner" and a "Short Corner". A player is not offside if he receives the ball from a Corner Kick.

Counter Attack
All of your attacks will either start with a kick-off or a "re-start" (such as a goal kick, corner kick or free kick), or they will be "counterattacks" which start when you get the ball on a turnover from the other team. There are 2 types of counterattacks: One is a slow, patient, ball-controlling attack that relies on a lot of short passes in all directions (i.e., backwards & sideways as well as forward); the other is to launch a quick "direct attack" by moving the ball forward as quickly as possible into the other team's "Danger Zone". Unless you have a highly skilled team that can complete a lot of consecutive passes, the quick direct counterattack will be the most effective. The concept is very similar to a fastbreak in basketball and if someone says you are vulnerable to a counterattack they are referring to a direct, fastbreak counterattack. You are more vulnerable to a quick counterattack if you push up your FB's when you attack. There are 2 keys to launching a successful fastbreak counterattack: (1) When your goal is under attack, you must be sure that one or two of your forwards stay out toward the halfway line or even farther if the other team's FB's are deep. (Another advantage of this is it will force the other team's FB's to stay back, otherwise, they might push up closer toward your goal). (2) Your FB's or MF's must quickly kick the ball deep onto your opponent's half of the field so your forwards can win the ball and fastbreak.

Cover
"Cover", "Support", & "Depth" are related but different concepts. Whereas "support" means there should be several teammates within the immediate area of the ball (i.e., within the distance of a long pass on offense and a short pass on defense) and applies to offense (i.e., receivers supporting the passer) and defense (e.g., the Second Defender should back up the First Defender), "cover" is a defensive concept that has 3 meanings. One meaning refers to areas of the field that your "defense" should cover. For example, when the ball is on your end of the field, your defense must "cover" your Danger Zone & if the ball is in your Danger Zone your defenders must especially cover the area in front of your goal. The area your defense must cover depends on how far away from your goal the ball is, which side of the field it is on & who is faster, your fullbacks or the other team's forwards (e.g., if your fullbacks are faster then you can "push up" more because you have the speed to "recover"). A second meaning refers to a defender guarding an opponent (e.g., "His job is to cover the Right Forward"). The term cover is also used as a synonym for defensive support (e.g., "The Sweeper is responsible for providing cover for his fullbacks". This is similar to the concept of a free safety providing cover for his cornerbacks and linebackers in American football). (See "Support", "Shift & Sag", "Depth", "Width In Defense" & "Recover").

Coverage
Refers to being sure your defenders are covering important space such as the Danger Zone if the other team is attacking near your goal. (See "Cover", "Shift & Sag", & "Support").

Create
You hope your players will learn how to "create". This refers to creating scoring opportunities. At higher levels, these players are very valued & often play CMF. For example, Carlos Valderrama & Marco Etcheverry are mid-fielders who "create" by great passing. These players are said to have great "vision" to see the potential to create opportunities. The great Brazilian player, Roberto Carlos, "creates" by making great "overlapping runs" down the side line from his fullback position to send beautiful "crossing passes" to his forwards. (See "Assist" & "Vision").

Creating Space
There are 2 different philosophies about how to "create space" - - "onball attacking" & "off-the-ball attacking". These are different styles of play.
"Onball Attacking" emphasizes the ballhandler dribbling to get open or dribbling for the purpose of pulling defenders toward him so receivers become open & he can try to pass to them (i.e., he "creates space" for the receivers by drawing their defenders toward him). This requires the ballhandler to have superb dribbling skills & the attack relies on the ballhandler to create opportunities. This style of play is easier to defend than "Offball Attacking" because the key is simply to shut down the ballhandler & mark potential receivers who are in scoring range. There are 3 reasons why you should not teach youth teams this style of play:
Most youth players don't have & cannot acquire the dribbling skills to use it successfully.
It doesn't stress "movement off-the-ball", which is something you want your players to learn.
In this style of play, passing is a second priority to dribbling (whereas players U-8 & up should be taught that passing is the first priority unless they are close to goal & can dribble & score). Teams that pass the ball well almost always beat those that dribble too much. A good comparison is to basketball, where teams that dribble too much usually lose to teams with good passing skills.
"Off-The-Ball Attacking" emphasizes 2 things: (A) The movement of players without the ball (i.e., "movement off-the-ball") to create space & (B) Passing to open space. This is a better style of play to teach youth because it emphasizes passing & "movement off-the-ball". Examples of how to create space through "off-the-ball attacking" are given below.
A. Examples of "movement off-the-ball" which pull defenders away from the ballhandler or away from the area to be attacked & thereby "create space" are:
"Spreading The Field", which moves attackers wide in order to pull defenders away from the center. (This is relatively easy to teach U-10 & up).
Having attackers stay a pass apart which forces the defense to spread out and, thereby, creates space. (This is relatively easy to teach U-10 & up).
Having receivers move away from the ballhandler as he approaches them creates space because defenders will have to cover the receivers or else the receivers will be open for a pass. (If receivers don't move, then their defenders are in a position to pressure the ballhandler as he gets closer to the receiver). The best teams in the world, such as Manchester United, do this very well. This is fundamental & one of the most important things you can teach, but it is surprising how often high school players don't do it. (This is relatively easy to teach U-10 & up).
"Checking Off", "Hooking Runs", "Diagonal Runs" and "Give & Go's" also create space by "movement off-the-ball". (These are relatively difficult to teach).
Occasionally a receiver should move toward the ballhandler, but young receivers more often make the mistake of moving toward the ballhandler when they should be moving away, or of not moving to get open from defenders. A good analogy is to think about basketball or receivers in American football.
B. Examples of attacking by playing the ball to open space are:
"Through Balls" which are kicked to the open space behind the defenders when the other team's defense is "pushed up": ("Through Balls" are relatively easy to teach U-10 & up).
"Switching The Play" where the ball is quickly passed from one side of the field to the other & is especially good when you are near the other team's goal & can attack the "back door". ("Switching The Play" is somewhat difficult to teach & is best for U-12 & up).
Passes to open space near a specific receiver (such as "Leading Passes" & "Crossing Passes") are another way to attack by passing to open space. (U-10 & up).
"Passing To Yourself" is a fourth way. (This is relatively easy to teach U-10 & up).
It is very important to teach passers to pass to space and to teach receivers to anticipate passes to space. If you do this, your attack will greatly improve, your team will score many more goals and it will be more fun. Teaching how to play to open space is a different way of thinking than "passing to feet", but once a team grasps the concept you will be amazed at how much more they move off the ball and how they try to win the ball more.

Cross
(aka Cross the Ball, Center The Ball, Cross It, Cross, Crossing Pass or Crossed Ball). A very important term & concept to teach U-10 & older, because "crosses" are a very important way to create scoring opportunities. To "cross the ball" means to kick the ball from the side of the field across the field toward the area in front of the opponent's goal in order to create a scoring opportunity. A cross is a "square pass" to the area in front of the goal (If a player passes the ball across the field to a teammate out of scoring range, it is not called a "cross", but is called a "square pass"). A crossed ball is usually a "pass to space" (as opposed to a "pass to feet"). Even at the pro level, the passer usually isn't passing to a specific person; he's just concentrating on kicking the ball to the front of the goal (often while on the run) because doing so often creates a scoring opportunity. (This is hard to do. Try kicking the ball sideways while running). A good cross will be to the area in front of the goal & about 7 to 20 steps out from the goal; if it is too close to the goal the goalkeeper will pick it up or catch it & if it is too far out the receiver won't have a shot. At the high school level and older, a lot of crosses are "air balls" that create the opportunity to score on a "header". I think it is better to use the term "center the ball" rather than "crossing pass" when giving directions to young players, because if you say "crossing pass", a young player thinks he should look for someone to "pass" it to. I've found it is better to teach your outside F's to "center the ball" without worrying whether a receiver will get there. Yes, they will sometimes center it when no one is there but it will teach receivers that they must "go to goal" & get in position to receive these "crosses" so they can make a one-touch or two-touch shot. Tell your receivers to stay 3 or 4 steps behind the ball when they run with the dribbler (i.e., the player who will make the cross) so they won't be called offside & so the ball won't go behind them. If they are even with the ball they will either have to stop & wait on it or will overrun it & it will go behind them. By staying 3 or 4 steps behind they should be able to slow down & reach the ball but still have forward momentum which will give them power on a one-touch shot. A more important reason to stay 3 to 4 steps back is so the cross doesn't go behind them. If it does, they have lost the scoring opportunity. If they are behind the ball they will have a chance; if the ball goes behind them, they won't). Tell them that when they reach the ball they should just block the ball with the inside of their foot & use a very short backswing; if they take a big backswing they will probably mis-kick. Placement is the key, not power. Crosses should go straight across. This is because if the cross is at a forward angle, it is harder for the receiver to kick it (since it is going away from him) & it is easier for defenders to clear it (because it is going toward them) and it is easier for the goalkeeper to catch it. A "Long Corner" is a type of "Cross" to "Center The Ball".

Crossover Run
A misdirection play where 2 attackers run past each other in opposite directions. This can be a way to get open on throw-ins.

Cushioning the Ball
When a receiver relaxes a part of the body so it absorbs the force of the ball. The purpose, of course, is so he can control the ball.

Cutback
(aka "Inside-of-Foot Hook"). Using the inside of foot to chop the ball across the body to the left or right as a way to change direction

 
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