Soccer Writer's Style Guide


North America's first and only soccer-specific style guide

Game-day vocabulary

backheel (v; n)


back pass

bicycle kick

bye week

caution, yellow-card offense, bookable offense, second bookable offense, sending-off offense, red-card offense

come back (v), comeback (n)

corner, corner kick

counterattack (v; n)

diving, simulation

  • Though diving is an act of simulation, simulation can also mean feigning injury or any other act where a player attempts to deceive the referee in order to gain an advantage. It is usually punished with a yellow card.


flick on (v), flick-on (n)

free kick

friendly, exhibition, exhibition game/match, scrimmage

  • A scrimmage usually refers to an unofficial, casual game played during the offseason or a bye week.

game, match, matchup

game day (n), game-day (adj.)

game plan

goal kick


halftime (n; adj.)


hat trick

headbutt (v; n)

header, headed goal

home-field advantage

kick off (v), kickoff (n)

line up (v), lineup (n), first XI (n)

master class


  • Never write offsides.

offside trap

one-two, give-and-go

overlap (v; n), overlapping run

own goal

penalty, penalty kick

  • PK is acceptable on second reference.

pregame, postgame

preseason, postseason, midseason, offseason

referee, official

  • Other officials include the referee’s assistant/assistant referee (also called the sideline official) and the fourth official.
  • Never use gender-specific terms, such as linesman.

set piece, set play

  • Use to describe a free kick, a corner kick or, to a lesser extent, a penalty kick.

shutout (n), shut out (v), clean sheet (n)

side netting

slide tackle

studs-up (adj.; adv.)


throw-in (n), throw in (v)

top corner, upper 90

versus, vs.

  • The abbreviation vs. is always preferred over the word versus. Never write just the letter v.

See also: Field markings and equipment, Players and positions


Filed under: Game-day vocabulary