Soccer Terms Cheat Sheet

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Suddenly, the ref calls a foul.

The stadium collectively roars. To your right, a woman bellows at the ref, and to your left, a man dejectedly holds his head in his hands. The couple behind you clearly cheers for different teams, as shown by the husband’s bravery in donning the opposing team’s jersey, and they’re arguing loudly over the call.

Meanwhile, you’re bewildered. You didn’t react quickly enough and are suddenly very conscious of your facial expression. Worried that someone will accuse you of cheering for the other team, you hurry to join the angry shouts, but trying to imitate those around you leaves you feeling lost.

Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. But with this guide from the Orlando women’s soccer experts at QueensCast, you’ll be on your way to being a soccer guru in no time.

  • Striker: These are the main offensive players and the ones expected to attack and score goals. They follow through all shots.

  • Goalkeeper: Commonly referred to as a keeper, this is the only player allowed to use their hands when the ball is in play. They use their entire body to prevent the ball from passing the goal line.

  • The box: This rectangular penalty area extends 18 yards from each side of the goal. While the keeper can move outside of this box if they want, they can only defend using their hands from within this box.

  • Defender: These players play directly in front of the goalkeeper, and their primary responsibility is to stop the other team from scoring goals.

  • Midfielder: If you look on the field, you can identify these players as the ones between the offense and defense, and they play both roles. Midfielders must play quickly, exercise superior ball control, and have the endurance to run long distances.

  • Offside: In a nutshell, this penalty is designed to prevent attackers from hovering too close to the goal, well behind the closest defender. Being offside in itself is not a foul, but being offside and involved in an active play is.

  • Handball: If a player other than the goalie deliberately handles or blocks the ball using their hand or arm.

  • Direct Free Kick vs Indirect Kick: There are two types of free kicks. The ref places the ball at the spot where the foul was called and the rest of the team assembles 10 yards away from the ball; they can choose whether or not to make a ‘wall’ between the kicker and goal. A direct free kick results from a personal foul and the player can shoot directly into the goal and score, whereas an indirect free kick results from an offside offense and the ball must be touched by another player to score.

  • Penalty Kick: The defending team commits a foul or is called for a handball inside the defensive team’s 18 yard box. The ball is placed on the designated spot in the box, and one player from the offensive team gets one free shot at the goal against the goalie. No other players interact with the play until after the ball initially is kicked.

  • Penalty Card: This is used by the match referees as a means of warning, reprimanding or penalizing a player, coach or team official. The referee will hold the card above his or her head while looking or pointing towards the player that has committed the offense. The color of the card used by the official indicates the type or seriousness of the offense and the level of punishment that is to be applied. A yellow card indicates a strong warning has been documented by the referee. A second yellow card in the same match, committed by the same official or player, will be upgraded to a red card and ejected from the match. When a red card is issued by the referee there is an immediate ejection of the player committing the foul and that team will be reduced by one player for the remainder of the match.

Looking for more info or have any questions? Keep this page open for quick reference at the next game, and check out our blogs from Orlando women’s soccer experts to help you sound like a pro.