What is this all about? Soccer Terms

When you first start watching soccer, there are a few terms that may throw you for a loop if you grew up watching organized sports in the USA. There are some familiar terms with different meanings (e.g. Offside, Kickoff, etc.) but we will cover those individually in later posts in this series.

But today I want to discuss a few terms you may have never heard before you start watching soccer. These are some of the common ones, and I'm sure there are others, which I'll ask readers to send me as suggestions to @lionsteethblog on twitter with the hashtag #soccerterms. Here they are in the order that they come to mind:

Pitch - The Pitch is the field on which the game is played. In most cases this is natural grass or FieldTurf.

Nil - Nil is the term for zero, as in a score of 1 - 0, which can be common in soccer games. 

Kit - The Kit is the name for the uniform that the players wear, and includes everything from the shirt to the shin guards to the boots.

Boot - The boot or boots are the shoes that the players wear, the soles of which are fitted with cleats similar to the cleats an American Football or baseball player wears for better traction on the turf during matches.

Match - A match is a game. Matches in soccer last 90 minutes, divided into two 45-minute halves. At the end of the half and the end of the game, the referee is allowed to add stoppage time to account for any delays in play since the clock runs continuously and is only stopped for very rare or unusual circumstances.

Stoppage Time - Stoppage time is the amount of time the referee deems is appropriate to add at the end of the first or second half to account for delays in play. Delays can include time used for an injury, time wasted while penalty situations were resolved and free kicks were awarded, and any other reasonable delays the referee deems appropriate.

Table - The table is the league standings. The team with the most points and/or the best record is said to be at the "top of the table" in soccer, where American sports fans are used to hearing about leading teams being "first in the standings."

Points Standings - Most sports that Americans have grown up watching don't end in draws. We have a culture that likes a definitive outcome with winners and losers and dislike draws. That's not the case in many international games, including soccer. Soccer allows for ties by awarding points to teams based on the outcome of matches, and the points total determines the team's standing within the league. A win is worth 3 points, a draw is worth 1 point, and a loss is worth 0 points. So accumulating points for wins and draws is important for teams throughout the season to determine their standing when the playoffs roll around.

Draw - A draw in soccer is a game that ends in a tie score. 

Wall - A wall is a line of players that set up between an attacking player taking a free kick and the goal. Walls are usually only used within about the one-third of the field nearest the defending team's goal, but they are not allowed if the attacking team is awarded a penalty kick. The wall must set up a distance of ten yards from the ball, and in recent years referees now carry a canister of shaving foam with them onto the pitch to mark out where the player is supposed to place the ball and where the wall is allowed to line up. 

Penalty Kick - A penalty kick is awarded the attacking team for several infractions, usually fouls that occur inside the 18-yard box that is defined on the field in front of the defending team's goal. Penalty kicks are taken from the penalty spot, a permanent mark on the pitch that is twelve paces from the center of the face of the goal.

Touch line - The touch line is what NFL fans would think of as the sideline. Within the touch lines, it is illegal for players other than goalkeepers inside the 18 yard box to touch the ball with their hands. Outside the touch line, the player must throw the ball back into play and cannot kick it into play from the side of the field.

Hand ball - A hand ball is an illegal touching of the ball during play with the hand or forearm. It seems that sometimes players can get called for a hand ball if their shoulder or upper arm hits the ball, but this is not always the case and it seems to be called inconsistently, much like holding is called inconsistently in the NFL or in college football.

Extra Time - Extra time is different from Stoppage Time. Extra time usually only happens during playoffs or single-elimination games when it is necessary to determine a winner. If the full 90 minutes and stoppage time elapse with the game being a draw, there is Extra Time added to allow play to continue and try to determine a winner.

That's all I can think of at the moment. Let me know if there are other terms I have missed, because I am sure that is the case.