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Did we miss any terms below? Ask us in the comments!

Parts of the field (8u and below):

  • Goal Line – The edges of the field on either side (on which the goals rest)
  • Goal Area – The rectangle right outside the goal. Goal kicks are started from here
  • Touch Line – The edges of the field perpendicular to the goals
  • Halfway Line – Line through the middle of the field. Opposing players must retreat behind this line during opponent goal kicks and kick offs
  • Center Circle – The circle line in the middle of the field. Opposing players can’t enter during kick off
  • Center Mark – The dot in the very middle of the field. The ball is started here on a kick off
  • Corner Arc – The small arc in each corner of the field. A corner kick is taken from here
  • Corner Flag – The flag denoting the corner of the field

Additional parts of the field (10u)

  • Penalty Area – The outer box surrounding the goal area. Fouls by the defensive team inside the penalty area result in penalty kicks. Keeper can use hands in this zone
  • Penalty Mark – The dot inside the penalty area where penalty kicks are taken
  • Build Out Line – The line halfway between the halfway line and the penalty area. Opposing players must retreat behind this line on goal kicks and keeper possessions. Also used for offside

Field 12u and up:

  • Build Out Line – Removed

Terminology

  • Advantage – If calling a foul would benefit the team committing the foul, the referee at their sole discretion can allow play to continue. Typically signaled with one or two outstretched arms to the front
  • Assist – The pass that led to the attacker who scored a goal
  • Assistant Referee – The referees that line up on either touchline
  • Attacking third – The third of the field towards the opponents goal
  • Ball – Size 3 for 8u and below, size 4 for 10u and 12u, size 5 for 14u and up
  • Boot – Another name for soccer cleats. Also means to give the ball a big kick upfield
  • Building Out (from the back) – The concept of moving the ball up field while maintaining possession of the ball. As opposed to kicking the ball upfield and hoping to regain possession closer to the opponents goal
  • Captain – A ceremonial position that will call the coin toss
  • Caution – An official warning demonstrated with a yellow card by the referee. Two cautions equate to a red card and dismissal from game. Rarely used in AYSO below 14u
  • Check in/out – Movement in relation to a teammate with the ball. A player can check in (or back) to move towards the teammate in possession or check out (or away) to move away from the teammate
  • Chip – A shot (“chip shot”) or pass played in the air over a short distance
  • Clear – A kick that attempts to remove the ball from a dangerous area inside ones defensive third. The main objective is to give time to the defensive team to regroup and is not specifically aimed at a teammate
  • Cleats – Mandatory foot equipment. Must be soccer cleats (not baseball, etc). Sometimes called a “boot”
  • Coin Toss – Referee will start every game with a coin toss between captains to determine who kicks off and which side each team defends
  • Corner Kick – A restart when a ball is kicked over the defensive team’s own goal line. The opposing team receives a direct free kick played from inside the corner arc
  • Cover – To stay close to (or mark) a specific opponent
  • Cross – To play the ball in from either side to the middle of the field, generally meant to mean in front of the opposing goal
  • Dead Ball – Play stoppage. The ball is not playable by either team, either because it is out of bounds or the referee has whistled for a game stoppage
  • Defender – A player in the back line of a team’s formation closest to their own goal. Comprised of centerback and fullback positions
  • Defensive Line – A defensive concept where all defenders stay in line across the field. Also used to mean the line by which, if crossed, an opposing player will be in an offside position
  • Defensive third – The third of the field closest to one’s own goal
  • Delay – A defensive concept where a player does not commit themselves to a tackle but instead applies just enough pressure to slow the advance of the ball carrier
  • Depth – The space between the furthest forward and rear players on a team. Adding depth means to extend that space
  • Direct Free Kick (DFK) – A free kick awarded to the other team from a committed foul. Free kicks can be shot on goal directly without any other player needing to touch the ball
  • Dive – An intentional fall by a player hoping to draw a foul. Extremely rare under 14u
  • Dribble – To control and play the ball with a player’s feet in direct control of the ball
  • Extra Time – Time a referee has added beyond the set time of a game to make up delays in the game. This is discouraged in AYSO
  • Feint – A fake or movement that tries to unbalance an opponent so that you can move the ball around them
  • Formation – The general shape and makeup of the team. The formation will determine what positioned are used for the lineup
  • Forward – The position that plays closest to the opposing team’s goal
  • Foul – Award of possession (direct free kick or indirect free kick) of the ball due to an infraction of the Laws of the Game by the opposing team
  • Fullback – The outside defensive position
  • Give and Go – An attacking concept of penetration when a player plays the ball to their teammate who then immediately plays the ball back to and ahead of them (typically around an opponent)
  • Goal – A score when the ball completely crosses the goal line
  • Goal Kick – A restart where a team receives a direct free kick from within their own goal area due to the opponents kicking the ball out of bounds over the goal line in the defensive team’s side
  • Goalkeeper – Only mandatory position on the field in 10u on up. Guards the goal and generally plays inside their own penalty area where they are allowed to use their hands–whereas outside the penalty area they cannot
  • Half – Soccer matches are officially broken down into 2 even halves. The match length is the player’s age group multiplied by 5 minutes. So a 10u team plays two 25 minute halves. Rest time and game clock stoppage happens between halves.
  • Half Time – The official break between halves. In AYSO half time is 5 minutes
  • Half Volley – Act of kicking or shooting the ball after the ball has bounced and is on its way back up
  • Halfback – Another name for a midfielder
  • Handball – An infraction when a player uses their hands or arms to play the ball. It is a very involved Law which involves the player’s arm position, how long did they have to move it out of the way, and did they gain an advantage by doing so. See details here.
  • Header – Playing the ball with your head. Disallowed below 14u
  • Holding Midfielder – A defensive midfielder that covers space in between the defensive line and other midfielders
  • Indirect Free Kick – A free kick awarded to the other team for committing a foul. Indirect free kicks must contact another player before being able to count as a goal
  • Instep drive – A type of soccer kick where the player strikes the ball with their laces
  • Jersey – Official jerseys must be worn at every match or a player is not allowed to play
  • Keeper – Short hand version of Goalkeeper
  • Kick-Off – Start of the match and as a restart after a goal is scored. The ball is placed on the center mark. The opposing team must be on their half of the field outside the center circle
  • Kicks from the Mark – Used in playoff games to decide a tie game. Groups of 5 players from each side take turns taking penalty kicks until one team outscores the other. Also called a penalty shootout
  • Lay off (pass) – A pass that sets up a teammate to play the ball in a single touch
  • Linesman – Deprecated term for an Assistant Referee (as they call more than the sideline)
  • Mark – To cover an opposing player closely. Can also be shorthand for the penalty dot or center dot
  • Midfielder – A position that covers the middle portion of the field in between the backs and forwards
  • Offside – A complicated Law that prevents opposing players from “cherry picking” goals by standing behind the opposing team’s defense. See details here.
  • Offside Trap – A defensive tactic where the defensive line purposely advances up the field to place the opposing forward in an offside position just before the ball is played up
  • One Touch – The number of touches on the ball refers to every single touch including trapping and shooting. So if a player traps the ball, plays the ball ahead of them, then shoots, it is considered 3 touches on the ball. A one touch simply means the player makes their play (pass, shot, etc) without trapping and controlling the ball first
  • Overlapping Run – A penetrating tactic where a player runs out of their normal position past the ball handler to receive a pass
  • Pass – Playing the ball deliberately to a teammate
  • Penalty Kick – The award for an infraction of the other team in their own penalty area. It is a direct free kick taken from the penalty mark where all other teammates and opponents must be out of the penalty area and penalty arc
  • Ping – An aerial pass over a longer distance (vs a “chip” over a short distance)
  • Pitch – The British term for a field. Typically used by adults who spend too much time watching Premier League Soccer
  • Possession – The act of keeping your team in control of the ball
  • Press – To apply active pressure to the opponent with the ball. A “high press” is a style meaning to press in your attacking third, soccer is played this way by default. More developed teams can choose to alter this to play a lower press, meaning to concede possession to the opponent until they cross a particular point on the field (e.g. the center circle)
  • Punt – A drop kick by a goalkeeper. Disallowed below 12u
  • Push pass – A pass using the side of the foot. It’s more accurate than the instep drive and should be introduced to 8u players
  • Quarter Break – A play stoppage (but not clock stoppage) approximately halfway between each half. In AYSO this is used for a water break and for substitutions
  • Red Card – A severe Law infraction resulting in player being ejected from the game. Extremely rare in AYSO
  • Referee – A god among men, women, and children on the soccer field. Listen to them and be nice to them. Without these volunteers soccer cannot be played!
  • Rondo – A popular practice drill. It refers to any possession/keep away activity where there is an overload situation: 4v2, 5v2, 6,3 etc. Players losing possession often become the player in the “middle”.
  • Set Play – A preplanned play carried out by a team during a restart such as a corner kick or direct free kick
  • Settle – To bring a bouncing ball under control to ground
  • Shift – Generally meant to move to the side of the field where the ball is in play
  • Shinguard – Required shin protection. Players are not allowed to play without it
  • Shot – A kick on goal attempting to score
  • Slide Tackle – A slide by a player attempting to play the ball. Disallowed under 14u
  • Square pass – A ball played across the field (perpendicular to the touchline)
  • Stopper – See holding midfielder
  • Striker – See forward
  • Support – Players that are moving to get open to receive a pass from the ball carrier, more typically referring to a player getting open behind the ball carrier
  • Sweeper – An antiquated position that would play behind the defensive line. Also known as “last man”. Has been consolidated with centerback for all intents and purposes
  • Switch – To change the side of the ball deliberately trying to take advantage of more space on the other side of the field. This typically denotes a pass to a teammate to advance the ball upfield
  • System – See formation
  • Tackling – The act of trying to dispossess an opponent of the ball
  • Technical Area – The area off the touchline approximately the width of the center circle where coaches must stay during a match
  • Through ball – A ball played to space in behind the opponents defensive line
  • Throw-In – A restart when the ball goes over the touchline resulting in the other team getting to throw the ball in over their head to a teammate
  • Track – To slowly move around the field to stay between the ball and the goal. Used for defenders and keepers
  • Trap – To stop and control the ball
  • Tuck In – Term used on defense when you want a player to move in and closer to teammates to maintain a more compact shape
  • Turn – To change direction with the ball under control
  • Volley – Striking or shooting a ball while it is descending towards the ground before it bounces
  • Wall – A defensive tactic where players stand in a line front of an opponent taking a free kick to block portions of the goal
  • Wall Pass – A pass that is played as a one touch give and go back to the original player
  • Weight – The strength of a pass
  • Width – An offensive concept where you play the ball to the sides of the field where there is likely to be more space and less defensive pressure
  • Work Rate – The amount of running off the ball by a player. For example, midfielders have a higher work rate than defenders
  • Yellow Card – A card shown the referee to denote a caution to a player. Rarely used in AYSO