Soccer Terms for Coaches

Subject: a few soccer terms

 Keep the terms simple for the kids … one to two words is best … some terms will be advanced, but place them in your memory bank .. I rarely used more terms than this. If I had to more to say, I would do it with a substitution to a single player or at half time to the entire team.

 Defensive Terms:


  1. recover – all defensive players retreat behind the ball
  2. stop the ball – the closest defensive player attacks the dribbler  (defensive players stop retreating)
  3. contain – keep the player with the ball in front of you (don’t lunge) until help arrives; different than trying to stop the ball as the offensive may or may not be attacking
  4. mark – pick up the closest offensive player man-to-man and maintain the defense until you win the ball
  5. get goal side – get between the player & the goal
  6. clear – kick the ball out of the defensive end (inside the 18) in the air; don’t try to dribble it out; when you are under tremendous pressure

Offensive Terms:

  1. attack – move the ball forward toward the oppositions goal at a fast pace
  2. carry – dribble the ball rather than pass; different than attack as this is just to move the ball down the field until a defender picks up the dribbler
  3. serve – an outside wing, back, etc either crosses the ball or serves it inside the 18 yard line (inside the penalty area)
  4. reverse the field – move the ball from one side of the pitch to the other; typically with a kick
  5. through ball – the offense sends the ball behind the defense and then runs past the defense
  6. give –n- go – you know this from basketball; same concept in soccer. Pass the ball and get it right back.




  1. win the ball – on a 50/50 ball; get to the ball before the opponent
  2. maintain shape – typically this is when your team collapses into a big huddle; they need to space out on the field

Getting kids to understand the terms helps you keep your message simple. It will take a long time for them to understand & react to the terms, but it will keep your message clear & consistent. You don’t need to over coach. It will also teach the parents your message.


This advice is from Terry Irish

ODP Hamilton, New Jersey