For decades, people have considered the world's most popular game to be a fringe sport in the U.S. But as soccer continues to grow in popularity, youth participation continues to soar.
With the sport's meteoric rise, parents may need to educate themselves on some of the game's finer points to keep up with their kids' interests. You can learn more about the different positions on the field here, and brush up on some of the Beautiful Game's terms and phrases below.
The Sport1 of 13
Football — Starting out with the basics here: The rest of the world knows soccer as "football." While "soccer" is still the more commonly used term in the U.S., many youth and professional teams have begun incorporating "football" into their team names in recent years.
Club — The term "club" is interchangeable with the word "team." It is commonly used to refer to any youth organization or professional franchise.
FC — An abbreviation for "football club." For instance, FC Barcelona is short for Football Club Barcelona.
A Game2 of 13
Match — There's nothing wrong with calling it a soccer game, but unlike other sports, you can also refer to a single contest between two teams as a match. For instance, you wouldn't say you were going to a basketball match or a hockey match, but in soccer, a game is traditionally called a "match."
Derby — This term doesn't apply to youth soccer quite as much as it does to the professional level, but a rivalry match is also known as a "derby." In Europe, derbies are typically played between teams from the same city, such as Manchester United and Manchester City. In North America, where professional teams are more spread out, a derby may exist between teams located in the same state such as FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo.
The Field3 of 13
Pitch — A "pitch" is a field designed specifically for soccer. You can use "field" and "pitch" interchangeably, but technically, a field not designed specifically for soccer is not a pitch.
Endline — The shorter boundary lines behind either goal.
Goal Line — The portion of the endline between the two upright posts of the goal.
Touchline — The longer boundary lines along the sides of the playing surface, also known as the sidelines.
The Field (cont.)4 of 13
Defensive Third — A soccer field is often broken down into imaginary thirds based on different phases of the game. The end of the field with the goal your team is defending is the defensive third.
Middle Third — This one's fairly self-explanatory, but the middle of the field is the middle third. Maintaining possession of the ball in this phase of the game is vital for transitioning from defense to offense.
Attacking Third — The attacking third is the end of the field with the goal on which your team is shooting. This is also known as the final third.
The Field (cont.)5 of 13
The Penalty Box — The large rectangle in front of either goal is the penalty box. This is the area where the goalkeeper can use his or her hands to catch or pick up the ball. The larger box that makes up the penalty box is also known as "the goalkeeper box," "the 18-yard box," "the box" or "the area."
Six-Yard Box — The smaller box within the goalkeeper box is the six-yard box.
Penalty Spot — The dot within the six-yard box is the penalty spot. This is where the offensive team places the ball in the event of a penalty kick.
Dead Ball Situations6 of 13
Penalty Kick — The officials award a penalty kick if a player on defense commits a foul within the 18-yard box. A player from the team that was fouled (not necessarily the player that was fouled) within this box gets to take a shot from the penalty spot. With no other players allowed within the 18-yard box, only the goalkeeper can contest the shot. He or she must stand on the goal line until the shooter makes contact with the ball.
Goal Kick — If an attacking player sends the ball out of bounds over the endline, officials award the team on defense a goal kick. The player must place the ball on the line at the top of the six-yard box for a goal kick.
Corner Kick — If a defending player sends the ball out of bounds over the endline, officials award a corner kick. The offensive team places the ball on the arc of the corner of the field closest to where it went out of bounds and receive a free kick
Dead Ball Situations (cont.)7 of 13
Free Kick — When a player commits a foul, the opposing team receives a free kick. Free kicks can be awarded anywhere on the field except within the penalty box.
Throw-In — If the ball goes out of bounds over the touchline, the last team to touch it loses possession, and the opposing team restarts play with a throw-in. A player must throw the ball with both hands, and both feet must be on the ground at the point of release.
Set Piece — The term "set piece" refers to designed plays. These are usually off of corner kicks and free kicks in the attacking third, in which players can set up an attempt on goal. If a throw-in is close enough to the endline, you can use it as a set piece opportunity.
Goals8 of 13
Olimpico — An Olimpico is a rare goal scored directly off a corner kick. It involves the player taking the corner kick arcing the ball directly into the goal without making contact with any other players.
Brace — When a player scores two goals in a game.
Hat Trick — When a player scores three goals in a game.
The Uniform9 of 13
Kit — A team's complete uniform (jersey, shorts and socks) is also known as a kit.
Boots — Another term for cleats.
Studs — The actual cleats on the bottom of a soccer player's shoes. A "studs up" tackle means the tackler had his or her cleats exposed in a way that could endanger the safety of the opponent.
Officiating10 of 13
Foul — A foul is essentially any infraction that causes the referee to stop play. It can be anything from a dangerous tackle to a handball to dissent to unsporting behavior. Severe fouls may result in yellow cards or red cards.
Yellow Card — An official can issue a yellow card when a player commits a severe foul or fouls persistently. If a player receives two yellow cards in one match, the second yellow results in a red card and ejection from the match, causing that player's team to play with one fewer player for the rest of the match. You can also refer to a yellow card as a "booking," as the referee has a book in which he or she logs all cards issued for each match.
Red Card — An official issues a straight red card for excessively dangerous fouls, which results in the player's ejection from the match and causing that player's team to play with one fewer player for the rest of the match. In the event of a red card (or second yellow card), the ejected player is also suspended for the team's following match.
The Clock11 of 13
Kick Off — This term refers to the start of a game. Unlike most sports, the clock in soccer counts up, which means it starts at zero at kickoff.
Halftime — A professional soccer game consists of two 45-minute halves. The game pauses at halftime after the first 45 minutes of play. Lengths can vary based on age level.
Stoppage Time — The clock never stops running in soccer, and there are no timeouts. In the event of injuries, substitutions or goal celebrations, the referee will keep an approximate track of how much time runs off the clock each time and add the total number of minutes to the end of the current half. You can also refer to the amount of time added to the end of the first or second half as injury time.
Full Time — A professional soccer game is 90 minutes long, which is also known as regulation time. Again, this can vary based on age level. When the final whistle blows after second half stoppage time, the match has reached full time.
The Lineup12 of 13
Starting XI — At the start of a game, each team begins with 11 players on the field consisting of a goalkeeper and 10 field players. This is the team's starting 11 or starting XI (Roman numerals).
The 18 — At the professional level, rules allow each team to have seven players on the bench for substitutions. The seven bench players along with the starting XI are the 18, or the gameday 18. The number of players allowed on the bench varies between different age levels and leagues.
Substitutes — At the professional level, each team can make up to three substitutions or player changes. A team can make these changes at any point within the game. The number of substitutes also varies between different age levels and leagues.