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F - Abbreviation for Forward. RF is Right F, CF is Center F, LF is Left F, MF is Midfielder, FB is Fullback and SW is Sweeper. Right and Left are as you face the other team's soccer goal. (See "Forwards" and "Formations"). Soccer F
Fair Charging - See "Shoulder Charge". Soccer Fair Charging
Far Forward - The Forward farthest from the ball. Soccer Far Forward
Far Fullback - The Fullback farthest from the ball. Soccer Far Fullback
Far Midfielder - The Midfielder farthest from the ball. Soccer Far Midfielder
Far Post (Key Concept) - (aka "Back Post"). Refers to the part of the goal farthest from the ball (e.g., "run to the far post" or "cover the far post" or "set up off the far post"). Soccer Far Post
Far Stopper - The Stopper farthest from the ball (if you play 2 Stoppers). Soccer Far Stopper
Fast Break - aka "Breakaway". See "Breakaway" & "Counterattack". Soccer Fast Break
FB - Abbreviation for Fullback. (See "Fullbacks"). Soccer Fullbacks
Feints - (aka Fakes). Soccer Feints
Field Diagram - A diagram of the field can be accessed by clicking this link: Field Diagram. Soccer Field Diagram
Field Maintenance - Click here to go to the article "Soccer Field Maintenance and Management". Soccer Field Maintenance
Field Player - All players except the goalkeeper. However, when the goalkeeper is outside of the Penalty Box he loses his special privileges & becomes a "field player" until he returns to the Penalty Box. Soccer Field Player
Field Size - FIFA's "Laws of the Game" are published annually and are the official rules. For current rules and field sizes, go to "Laws of the Game" at www.fifa.com or check with your soccer association. The official field size can range from 50 to 100 yards wide by 100 to 130 yards long. However, the rules allow field sizes to be reduced for women, players with disabilities and for players under 16 and over 35 years of age. Field sizes used by youth leagues vary greatly.
Recreational Players Will Have More Fun & Learn More on a Smaller Field. One of the worst mistakes a recreational league can make is to have teams playing on oversized fields. The reason is simple: on a smaller field the players will have more touches & more fun. The field size should be proportionate to the player size, and recreational teams should play on smaller fields than select teams. If a field is too large, recreational players will spend most of their time running & will be worn out by half-time. When players are tired & playing on an overly large field, it is easy for the game to degenerate to "Boom-ball". It is also more difficult to teach tactics & team play, such as support, on an overly large field. Smaller fields are much better suited to players who are average athletes, are slower, or lacking stamina, as are 50% to 75% of all recreational players. How large should the field be? If an adult over-30 novice recreational team plays on a 60-yard x 100-yard field (most play on this size or smaller because it is more fun), then youth recreational teams should play on proportionately sized fields. The size of youth fields should be based on the size of the step and the length of the kick of each age group relative to adults. For example, if a 12-year old's step is about 80% that of an adult, then the field size should be 80% of the adult size, or about 50-yards x 80-yards. Dimensions for recreational teams might be as below:
If you can't properly size the fields, err on the side of fields that are undersized, not oversized. It will be more fun, the players will learn more about soccer, & fewer will drop out at age 11 or 12. * Note: If your league plays "small sided", these dimensions may be even smaller. "Small sided" is highly recommended until U-12. My U-12 team, for example, had great fun and improved a great deal when scrimmaging 3 or 4 per side on a 15 x 25 field. The action is non-stop, everyone gets a lot of touches on the ball, quick, short passes are encouraged & there are many transitions from offense to defense. See "Small Sided" in the Dictionary. Click this link to access a field diagram. Soccer Field Size
Age (% Adult Size)
Field Size (in yards)
60 x 100
50 x 80
40 x 70*
25 x 50*
15 x 30
FIFA - (Pronounced "FEE-fuh"). The world soccer governing body. They publish the official rules, which are called the "Laws of the Game" and are revised annually. Go to www.fifa.com for more information and a complete list of the latest rules which are called "Laws of the Game"). Soccer FIFA
Fifty-Fifty Ball - A loose ball that either team has an equal chance of winning. Try to teach your players to win these balls. The team that wins these will usually win the game. The key is a quick first start & not being afraid of contact. (See "Win The Ball"). Soccer Fifty-Fifty Ball
Final Third - (aka "Attacking Third"). See "Attacking Third". Soccer Final Third
Finish - Or Finishing, means to complete the attack by scoring (i.e., converting a scoring opportunity into a goal). If your team can't "finish", you may need to work on shooting or rebounding. Are your players shooting from too far away or without power? Are players in place to score on rebounds? Are they getting a lot of shots? Are your players taking shots? Are you getting the ball into the Penalty Box with Forwards in position to score? When near the goal are they shooting low & to the corner? (As an example, a few years ago we played a game where we had 11 shots but only scored 1 goal. The problem was that all of our shots were air balls toward the center of the goal & the goalkeeper caught them. If we had shot grounders to the corner we would have scored 5 or 6 more goals). Teach your players to shoot low to the corners when inside the Penalty Box & that accuracy is more important than power. Quick, aggressive players are usually good finishers. (See "Attacking", "Attacking Plan", and "Rebound"). Soccer Finish
First Attacker Soccer * (Key Concept) - (aka "Onball Attacker"). The "First Attacker" is the player with the ball. The terms "First Attacker", "Second Attacker", and "Third Attacker" are useful in teaching your "Attacking Plan". You may want to teach that there should always be a First, Second, and Third Attacker and what their jobs are. The First Attacker's job is to "penetrate" (i.e., attack the goal) by passing, dribbling or "centering" the ball to a space in front of the goal. When one of your players has the ball, there must always be at least one Second Attacker who is close enough for a pass. (This is called "Support"). For example, if your LF is attacking down the left side on the opponent's half of the field, the LMF should "trail" her as a Second Attacker, stay a pass away, and be ready for a "Back Pass", while the other Forward should run toward the "Near Post" as another Second Attacker and the other MF should run foward the "Far Post" as the Third Attacker, to be ready for a "Cross" or a "Rebound". The Second and Third Attackers should stay 3 steps behind the ball so they won't be offside and can run onto the Cross. There can be more than one Second Attacker (which is defined as a supporting attacker within a pass of the ball). You must have Second and Third Attackers to have an effective attack. You can define Second Attackers as those within a short to medium passing distance and Third Attackers as those in scoring position or running with the attack but a long pass away from the First Attacker. (See "Cross", "Finish", "Rebound", "Styles of Play", "Support", "Trailer", "Second Attacker", "Third Attacker" & "Third Man Running"). Soccer First Attacker
First Defender Soccer * (Key Concept) - (See "Support"). Soccer First Defender
First Post - (aka "Near Post"). See "Near Post". Soccer First Post
First-Time Ball - (aka "One Touch"). See "One Touch". Soccer First-Time Ball
First Post - (aka "Near Post"). See "Near Post". Soccer First Post
First Touch (Key Concept) - When a player has the opportunity to touch the ball with his or her foot, body or head, as the receiver of a pass, as a result of "winning" a loose ball, or any time the player gets to touch the ball, the player's "first touch" on the ball is critical. A great first touch is one of the skills needed to be a great player. The first touch is critical because soccer is a fast game played under pressure, and players who can play fast and retain control while under pressure have a huge advantage. For example, if a player is under pressure and can't quickly control the ball on the "first touch", the opponent will often take away the ball. Another example is when a receiver one-touches a pass away from pressure into Open Space in order to retain possession or to get an open shot or pass. A great first touch allows a player to play faster, more creatively, and more successfully.Every "one touch" shot or pass occurs on the "first touch", so if a player wants to be good at one-touch, he or she should try to develop a good "first touch". However, a good first touch doesn't mean everything has to be one touch - it just means that the player has good control on the first touch (a player, might, for example, block a pass into open space away from an opponent and then pass or shoot on the second touch, or might retain possession and dribble or pass the ball). The Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race Practice Game can teach "first touch" and "one touch" because the players who can "first touch" and "one touch" will win that game and those who don't will usually lose. The coach can easily teach first touch and one touch by using that game - just demonstrate and give the players "tips" after each game about how they can win, and explain why the winners won the game. The Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race Practice Game is played at Game Speed and under pressure, so players will learn to play fast and under pressure. Soccer First Touch
Flat Back - Refers to Flat Back 3 or Flat Back 4, which are types of "Zone Defenses". See "Flat Defense" and "Zone Defense". Soccer Flat Back
Flat Defense - (aka "Square Defense"). A defense that is straight across the field, parallel to the end line. A flat defense has no "depth" & is vulnerable to "through balls", but can "offside trap". (See "Depth", "Support", "Through Balls", "Zone Defense" & "Offside Trap"). Soccer Flat Defense
Flat Pass - (aka "Square Pass"). See "Square Pass". Soccer Flat Pass
Flick Header - A header that redirects the ball in a ricochet fashion. Instead of a forceful strike, the head is used to change the direction of the ball. This is usually done with the side or top of the head & not the forehead. Soccer Flick Header
Flick Pass - (aka "Forward-Foot Pass") A pass made with the outside of the foot & without a backswing (also called passing with the "Forward-Foot"). This is a quickly made & deceptive pass mostly used when attacking near the goal. It can be especially effective when dribbling with the inside of the foot & suddenly using the outside of the same foot to make a "flick pass". This is an important pass to teach. (See "Forward-Foot Pass", "Outside-of-Foot" & "How To Teach Outside-Of-Foot Pass"). Soccer Flick Pass
Flow of Play - (aka "Run of Play"). This phrase usually is used to describe goals or shots occurring in the "flow of play" as opposed to a Penalty Kick or in a "Shoot-Out". Soccer Flow of Play
Floor - Refers to the ground, as opposed to the air. For example, "Keep the ball on the floor". Soccer Floor
Fluid Intake - Adequate fluid intake is critical to prevent dehydration. Soccer Fluid Intake
Foot Skills - Foot Skills fall into 3 categories: Dribbling, Turns and Feints (obviously there is overlap here). The primary methods of turning are the "Pullback", the "Cutback" and the "Hook". Some important Feints are the "Scissors", the "Cruyff Move", the "Fake Kick", the "Matthews Move" and the "Change of Speed". These are defined herein and in "Techniques and Fancy Footwork" which is part of the Premium site. Soccer Foot Skills
Soccer Formations * (Key Concept) - Age 10 & up. (See "How To Teach Soccer Formations" at SoccerHelp Premium for how to teach Formations.) Does your team give up goals on breakaways, have trouble playing good offense or defense in the midfield, or not score enough goals? The problem may be that you are trying to make your team fit a formation and style of play instead of using a formation and style of play that fits your team. The formations that work for Select or Travel teams usually don't work well for Rec teams. Rec coaches usually don't have the time to teach complex systems of play, and complex formations and styles of play can cause players to become hesitant and frustrated. The easiest thing you can do to cause a huge improvement in your team's play is to change to a simplified, easy-to-teach formation and style of play that gives your team the best chance of being successful. SoccerHelp Premium explains how to choose and teach simplified Formations that are easy to teach and really work for Recreational teams. The formations and style of play explained in "Attacking Plan", "Scoring More Goals", "Quick Team Improvement Program" and "Formations" on Soccerhelp Premium will not only result in your Rec team winning more games, but your team will play better, have more fun, and players and coaches will gain a better understanding of the game. For example, Coach Scott, a Texas USA U-13 Boys coach, had only won 1 game of the past 20, but switched to a 3-2-2-3 formation and style of play as explained in Premium and went 6-2-2 (6 wins with basically the same team) and finished in second place. And Coach Lisa's U-11 Girls team (also of Texas USA) switched to a 3-2-2-3, and doubled their goal production (from an average of 2 to 4 per game). The great thing about both these cases is that it only took a few practices to see the results.
If your team is U4 or U6, you don't need to worry about formations, just have fun. But for U8 and older, the formation you use can have a great deal to do with your team's success. Your "formation" determines how many players you have at FB (Fullback), MF (Midfielder) & F (Forward). The purpose of having a "formation" is to ensure "support", "depth", "width" & field coverage on both offense & defense. Players are assigned a position & with it comes responsibilities. For example, a right side player (whether a RF, RMF or RFB) should not be way over on the left side of the field. (Right and left are as you face the other team's goal). If he is, then he has left a hole that is not covered. Each player must do his job and trust his teammates to do theirs; that is what makes a good "team". There are many different formations, but in all (unless you are playing 3 vs 3 or 4 vs 4) you will have F's, MF's, FB's & a goalkeeper. You may hear about a 4-4-2, a 4-3-3, or a 1-3-3-3 formation. These numbers never include the goalkeeper but always start with the player closest to the goalkeeper. Thus, a 4-4-2 would be 4 FB's, 4 MF's & 2 F's, a 1-3-3-3 would be a "Sweeper", 3 FB's, 3 MF's & 3 F's, and a 3-1-3-3 would be 3 FB's, a "Stopper", 3 MF's and 3 F's. (These assume 11 players on the team. For smaller sized teams adjust accordingly).
The formation you choose should be based on:
- The ability of your players.
- Your players speed and endurance.
- The number of substitutes you have.
- The length of the field.
- The other team's strengths and weaknesses.
(If you play fewer than 11 on the field, the same principles still apply, but you will need to reduce the numbers accordingly).
See "How To Teach Soccer Formations" at SoccerHelp Premium for how to teach Formations. Soccer Formations
Forwards * (Key Concept) - (abb. "F") Primary scorers who play closest to the other team's goal. The Right Forward ("RF") is the one on the right facing the other teams goal; LF is on the left, & CF is center. Most formations will have 2 or 3 forwards. Teach your forwards to be aggressive and opportunistic. They must fight to win the ball. (See "Formations", "Positions", "Striker" & "Wing"). Soccer Forwards
Forward-Foot Pass - (aka "Flick Pass" & pass with the Forward Foot). A pass made with the outside-of-foot without a backswing. This is a quickly made & deceptive pass that is very useful for short passes in the attacking end or near the other team's goal. This can be especially effective when dribbling with the inside of the foot & suddenly using the outside of the same foot to make a "flick pass". (See "Flick Pass"). Soccer Forward-Foot Pass
Fouls - There are 2 kinds of fouls, Direct Kick Fouls & Indirect Kick Fouls. (Rules are called "Laws Of The Game" and are changed each year. Go to www.fifa.com. for current rules. See "Cards" for more fouls & penalties):
- (1) Direct Kick Fouls - For which the other team receives a "direct free kick" (meaning a goal can be scored by kicking the ball straight into the goal) or a "penalty kick" ("PK") if the foul occurs within the Penalty Box (Note: It doesn't matter whether the ball was in the Penalty Box or not; what matters is where the foul was committed). There are 10 direct kick fouls. The rules say that the referee should call a foul for numbers 1 thru 6 if he believes they are committed in a manner he considers "careless, reckless or using excessive force":
- kicking or attempting to kick an opponent. Accidentally kicking an opponent while tackling the ball is not a foul unless it was careless, reckless, or there was excessive force. If a player slide tackles from the front, it will be considered at least "dangerous play" (which is an indirect kick foul), or kicking, or tripping, or "unsporting behavior", even if the ball is contacted, since it would at the least be reckless or dangerous. (See "Cards, Red Card, Serious Foul Play")
- tripping or attempting to trip an opponent (if careless, reckless or using excessive force),
- charging into an opponent (the goalkeeper can also be called for this if his action is careless, reckless or uses excessive force),
- striking or attempting to strike an opponent (if careless, reckless or using excessive force),
- pushing an opponent, including the goalkeeper (if careless, reckless or using excessive force),
- jumping at an opponent in a careless or reckless manner or using excessive force (this includes jumping for a header if an opponent is carelessly or recklessly bumped, and jumping at the goalkeeper),
- blatant holding or pulling (including holding clothing, using any part of the body to hold an opponent & "Sandwiching"),
- making contact with an opponent before touching the ball when tackling an opponent to gain possession of the ball (Note: it is always a foul if the tackler contacts the ballhandler before touching the ball. However, it can still be a direct kick foul if the ball is touched first but the tackler was "careless, reckless, or used excessive force" and was judged to have kicked, tripped, charged or jumped at the ballhandler. Or, if the Referee believes the tackler played in a "dangerous manner", an indirect kick can be awarded),
- spitting at an opponent, even if it doesn't hit the opponent (this is grounds for a Red Card),
- deliberately handling the ball (a "hand ball" should not be called if a player is instinctively trying to protect himself from injury or if the ball hits the hand while it is in a natural position near the players side and has not been moved toward the ball. See "Hand Ball" for more details; this does not apply to the goalkeeper inside his own penalty area.),
- (2) Indirect Kick Fouls - For which the other team receives an "indirect free kick" (meaning a goal only counts if another player touches the ball before it enters the goal). The indirect free kick is taken from where the offense occurred. There are 2 types of indirect kick fouls:
- a. Four that apply to all players:
- "Dangerous Play" (or playing in a dangerous manner) is any action by a player that in the judgment of the Referee is dangerous to himself or to another player and that isn't a "direct kick foul" such as tripping. Examples would be a high kick when an opponent is nearby, or if a player tries to head a low ball that an opponent is trying to kick, then the player who is putting himself in danger would be guilty of dangerous play. Another example would be any action that might endanger the goalkeeper within the Penalty Box. If the goalkeeper and an opponent both go for a loose ball, the Referee will tend to favor the goalkeeper if there is a collision. It isn't necessary for someone to be hurt for dangerous play to be called. For example, slide tackling with spikes high would be dangerous play, even if the opponent isn't contacted. However, a dangerous act (such as a high kick) isn't "dangerous play" unless an opponent is nearby.
- "Impeding the Progress of an Opponent". Generally, a player cannot use his body to impede another players movements, even if it is not deliberate. This can be called if a player is not within "playing distance" of the ball (i.e., 3 feet) and block's an opponent's movement or screens an opponent from the ball. However, if a player is within playing distance & able to play the ball (meaning not laying on the ground), the player can legally screen an opponent from the ball. (You usually see this when a ball is going out of bounds & the player whose team will get the throw-in screens the opponent so the opponent can't save the ball). Impeding the progress of an opponent used to be called "obstruction". The rule also applies to "innocently" impeding the goalkeeper by standing in front of him when he has the ball.
- Preventing the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands. A player who attempts to prevent the Goalkeeper from putting the ball into play by standing directly in front of the Goalkeeper can be called for breaking this rule or for "unsporting behavior", in which case both a Yellow Card & an indirect kick would be awarded. (See "Cards")
- Any time a yellow or red card is shown & a direct kick isn't awarded (e.g., for "unsporting behavior", "dissent", persistently breaking the rules, and offensive or threatening language; see "Cards" for a list of the many types of unsporting behavior).
- b. Four indirect kick fouls that only apply to the goalkeeper and only if committed inside the Penalty Box (the goalkeeper is treated like a regular field player when he is outside the Penalty Box -- the Penalty Box includes the line that defines the Box, so if the ball is on the line it is still within the Penalty Box):
- Controlling the ball with his hands for more than six (6) seconds before releasing it from his possession (releasing it can include throwing it, kicking it or dropping it to the ground and then kicking or dribbling it. Once released, it is "live"). (Notice that this only applies to the time he actually has possession of the ball, and not to when he might have first touched it by blocking a shot).
- Touching the ball with hands after it is deliberately kicked to the Goalkeeper by a teammate. (Note: It is okay to pick up an accidentally kicked ball, such as a mis-kick, or a pass from a teammate that isn't "kicked" but is made using the head, chest, knee, etc.).
- Touching the ball with his hands after he has received it directly on a throw-in from a teammate (i.e., the goalkeeper can't pick up a throw-in from a teammate).
- Intentionally touching the ball with his hands after he has released it from his possession and before it has touched another player (e.g., dropping the ball, dribbling it and then picking it back up is not allowed -- however, if he accidentally dropped it, it might be okay to pick it back up, the decision would be up to the Referee). Read b.2 and b.3 above. If the Goalkeeper "possesses" the ball and "releases" it, then he can only handle it again after an opponent touches it, or if it is accidentally kicked back or headed or chested back by a teammate. He can't pick it up if a teammate has intentionally kicked or thrown it to him. Notice that this rule only applies if he actually has "possession" of the ball, and not, for example, if he blocks touches a shot with his hands and then picks up the ball to "control" it. So, the important words here are "possession" and "released" -- under this rule just touching the ball isn't the same thing as having "possession" of the ball. However, in terms of protecting the Goalkeeper's safety, some referees will consider the Goalkeeper to have the ball under his control if he even has one finger on it -- this is to discourage attackers from trying to kick the ball out of the Keeper's hands.
- Advantage Clause. This rule states that the Referee, in his discretion, may decide to not stop play due to a foul if it would be to the advantage to the fouled team to not stop play (i.e., The concept is that the team that was fouled should not be punished by having an attack stopped which might result in a goal and, conversely, that the team which committed the foul should not gain an advantage as a result of the foul). (See "Advantage Clause").
- (See "Cards", "Rules", "Hand Ball", "Offside Rule", "Shoulder Charge", "Penalty Kick", "Free Kick" & "Lines").
Free Kick - When one team is penalized, the other usually gets a "free kick". There are 2 types of free kicks (direct & indirect) and a special type of Direct Free Kick called a Penalty Kick:
Soccer Free Kick
- Direct Free Kick - Where a goal may be scored by kicking the ball directly into the opponent's goal without anyone else touching it (although it still counts if someone else does touch it).
- Indirect Free Kick - On which a goal may be scored only if another player touches the ball before it enters the goal. Question: "How do you know if a free kick is indirect?" Answer: "The referee will raise his arm above his head and leave it up until the ball is kicked". On an indirect kick you should have one player gently tap the ball so another player standing behind the ball can kick it; or pass it to someone who shoots it. If on an Indirect Free Kick the ball is kicked into the goal without anyone else touching it (other than the kicker) the goal does not count and the other team is awarded a goal kick. However, if the ball is touched by a player on either team, including the goalkeeper, before it goes into the goal, the goal counts.
- Penalty Kick - When a player commits a foul within his own Penalty Box, which would normally result in a Direct Free Kick, the other team is given a Penalty Kick ("PK"). (See "Penalty Kick"). On Penalty Kicks, everyone but the kicker & goalkeeper must stay out of the Penalty Box until the kicker moves the ball. On Direct & Indirect Free Kicks, defenders must stay away from the kicker (6 yards if U-8, 8 yards if U-10 & 10 yards for U-12 & older) until a player on the kicking team moves the ball, if they don't they can receive a yellow card. (See "Fouls", "Hand Ball", "Cards", "Offside Rule", & "Penalty Kick". Go to www.fifa.com. for more details). The Offside Rule applies on Free Kicks.
Friendly - An exhibition game or a teaching scrimmage. In recreational soccer, all games should be "friendlies". Soccer Friendly
Fullbacks (Key Concept) - (abb. "FB"). (aka Backs and Defenders). Defenders who play closest to their own goal. The Left & Right are as you face the other teams goal. In diagrams the Left Fullbacks will be designated "LFB", center as "CFB" & right as "RFB". In Britain, they sometimes use the term full-back to refer to the right and left back, as opposed to the center back(s). (See "Formations" and "Positions"). Soccer Fullbacks
Funnel - A term used to describe the way in which defenders retreat toward their goal so they become more concentrated as they get closer to the goal. (e.g., "Funnel back toward the goal"). I think "First Defender/Second Defender" & "shift & sag" better describe what you want to happen. (See "First Defender" and "Shift & Sag"). Soccer Funnel
Seeices for our iron on Motivational Soccer Patches