Soccer Definitions that Begin with the Letter P

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Pace - The speed on the ball, speed of a player or speed of the soccer game. You want to have proper "pace" on a pass. (See "Weight"). The British also use this to refer to a player's closing speed (e.g., "he has great pace"). Soccer Pace

Packed In Defense - A Packed in or Bunker soccer defense is when the team that is defending puts most or all of their players inside their Defensive Third (near their goal). There is a good article at There is a good article at Bunker Packed In Soccer Defense and another at . . There are more articles on Premium. If your team is a big underdog, your only chance might be to try a Packed In Defense in the hope you don't give up any goals and can score on a defensive error by the opponent, a lucky break (such as a ball falling your way), or by a single act of individual brilliance. See Packed In Bunker Soccer Defense

Pass - A pass is a kick, or a ball played with the head, chest or thigh, that is intended to be received by a teammate. Like in basketball, passing is preferable to dribbling because the ball can be moved more quickly & can better be kept away from the other team. By U-12, it is critical for a team to be able to attack by passing. (See "Pass To Feet", "Push Pass", "Hopped Pass", "Toe-Kick", "Flick Pass", "Pass To Space", and "When To Dribble"). I strongly recommend you teach "Passing to Space" and "Aggressive Receiving" -- Passing to Space is easier for beginning players and will result in much better ball movement, better ball possession, use of Open Space and "field vision". Aggressive Receiving is a better way to teach receiving and will result in a big improvement in your players and their ability to retain the ball. Soccer Pass

Pass To Feet* - Passing to a teammate's feet is good if he is surrounded by defenders, but otherwise it is better to "pass to space". It is important to teach this to your players. An example of when you should "pass to feet" is if a forward is in scoring range but defenders are around him. Players U-12 & older should be taught to control a hard pass to their feet. (See Practice Game called "Hard Passing/Glue Foot Receiving", "Pass To Space", and "Creating Space". Soccer Pass To Feet

Pass To Space* (Key Concept) - Teach players to "pass to space" (i.e., to "open space") & teach receivers to anticipate passes to space, as opposed to "passing to feet". These passes are sometimes called "leading passes" (if they are made to space in front of a receiver) or "through passes" (if they are through the defense into the open space behind the defense). This is a very important concept to teach & one that I think should be introduced by U-8 & definitely by U-10. It becomes increasingly important, as players become older, & is very important by U-12. An advantage of this style of play (as opposed to "passing to feet") is that players learn they must be alert and must go to the ball and not wait for the ball to come to them. Passing to space also encourages "movement off the ball". (See "Creating Space", "Leading Pass", "Through Ball", "Wall Pass", "Formations", "Attacking Plan", "Styles of Play", "Pass To Yourself", "Open Space", "Pass To Feet". Also see the Section titled "Scoring More Goals"). I strongly recommend you teach "Passing to Space" and "Aggressive Receiving" -- Passing to Space is easier for beginning players and will result in much better ball movement, better ball possession, use of Open Space and "field vision". Aggressive Receiving is a better way to teach receiving and will result in a big improvement in your players and their ability to retain the ball. Soccer Pass To Space

Coach Mark said: "We used the Premium Pass to Space Run with the Ball and Shoot game which has worked magically. The girls are really starting to pass ahead of each other. In fact my two best players, made a comment that they really need to pass it way ahead of our starting forward because she is so fast, but if the other forward is in, they told me they should not do the same because of the speed difference." Coach Mark, U10, CA, Premium Member

Pass To Yourself* - (aka "Pop It"). As players get older & better, it becomes very difficult for an attacker to dribble past a defender & passing becomes very important. By U-12, your attack won't work very well unless your team can "pass", "pass to space" & "pass to yourself". One way to beat a defender is to "pass the ball to yourself" by passing the ball to open space behind the defender & then beating him to it. The passer has the advantages of knowing where he is passing it & of forward momentum, while the defender must turn around and gain momentum. This is one way to get through the last line of defenders if they have "pushed up" & in that case is like passing a "through ball" to yourself. This works best if the attacker is faster than the defender. I tell attackers to "pop the ball" past the defender & ideally to chip it or kick an "airball" if they can, since an airball is hardest for a defender to block with his foot. Since they can run faster without dribbling than they can if they are dribbling, I tell them to pop it as far as they can while still beating the defender to it. For example, if they are on the right or left side, they can pop it farther than if they are in the center, because if they kick it too far down the center the goalkeeper will get it. If the defender is faster than the attacker, the attacker won't be able to pop it very far or the defender will beat him to the ball. Second Attackers and Third Attackers must move up with the ball to support the First Attacker. If a defender gets the ball, the attackers must pressure the defender to try to win back the ball. If they can cause a turnover, they may have a scoring opportunity. (See "Through Ball", "Hopped Pass", "Creating Space", "Verbal Signals", "First Attacker" & "Pass"). How to teach "Passing to Space" and "Aggressive Receiving" are explained in SoccerHelp Premium. Soccer Pass To Yourself

Passing On - When a defender turns over responsibility for marking an attacker to a teammate, usually because the attacker leaves one defender's zone & enters a different defender's zone. Soccer Passing On

Pat Riley Quotes - Motivating quotes for soccer coaches. Soccer Pat Riley Quotes

Patches - Soccer Patches

Penalty - See "Fouls" and "Penalty Box". Soccer Penalty

Penalty Area - (aka "Penalty Box", "Box" or "Eighteen"). See "Penalty Box". Soccer Penalty Area

Penalty Box - (aka Penalty Area, "Box" or "Eighteen"). The large box in front of the goal in which the goalkeeper can touch the ball with hands. The half circle at the top of this box is the Penalty Box Arc. Size will vary by age group & your club rules. On adult sized fields, the Penalty Box extends 18 yards from the Goal Line into the field. For dimensions go to "Laws of the Game" at (See "Field Diagram", "Eighteen", "Box" & "Penalty Box Arc"). Soccer Penalty Box

Penalty Box Arc - (aka The "D"). See "Penalty Box", "Field Diagram" & "D". Soccer Penalty Box Arc

Penalty Kick - (aka "Spot Kick"). A "penalty kick" or "PK", is a special type of direct free kick. When a player commits any of the 10 "Direct Free Kick Fouls" within his own Penalty Box, the other team is given a Penalty Kick. On a PK, a player from the fouled team (the coach can choose who, but it is nice to choose the player who was fouled) gets a free shot at goal from the "Penalty Mark" (which is 12 yards out for U-12 & older; less for U-8 & U-10) with only the goalkeeper to stop the shot. All other players must stay outside the Penalty Box & the Penalty Box Arc until it is kicked. The kick must go forward & once "in play" (i.e., once the ball moves) any player other than the kicker may then touch the ball. The goalkeeper must stay on the goal line until the ball is kicked, but he can move laterally along the line. The goalkeeper cannot take actions (such as waving his arms or yelling) to try to intentionally distract the kicker because that would be "unsporting", nor can the kicker start his run & then stop for the purpose of faking the Goalkeeper, for the same reason.

The player taking the penalty kick may not play the ball a second time until it has touched another player. (Interpretation: he MAY play the ball and attempt to score if the goalkeeper or another player has touched it, but not if just bounces back off the post or crossbar; the kicker must not touch it unless another player has touched it).

If, after the penalty kick has been taken the kicker touches the ball a second time (except with his hands, which is a direct free kick penalty) before it has touched another player, an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team, the kick to be taken from the place where the infringement occurred. However, if the kicker deliberately handles the ball before it has touched another player, a direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team, the kick to be taken from the place where the infringement occurred. (Go to, "Regulations", for more details).

The Tips Below are from an email I got from Coach Tony who lives in Atlanta and is a great coach and a great guy. Some great ideas about what to tell your team before a soccer shootout. This was about a U19 team:

"We go to two 5 minute OTs and end scoreless again, but again my girls make no mistakes, so 0 - 0 at the end of OT - on to the Shootout and my kids are sweating bullets." I tell them look. I am so proud of how you played this game, if we ended it right now, I'd be happy. BUT, we have this little shootout to get through, so go out there and do like you have practiced. Don't overpower the ball. Think Placement before you think Power. Don't look at the Keeper, Don't look where you are going to shoot. Most of all, remember that Coach Tim and I are VERY proud of you and what you have done in this game, and we both love you all to pieces - so just go do your thing and do it like you have practiced a thousand times. They ask what did I want to do if we won the coin toss? I don't know about you , but I always like to score first and put the pressure on the other guy, so I tell them to "shoot if we win". Soccer Penalty Kick

Penalty Mark - The "Penalty Mark" is a mark on the field from which a Penalty Kick is taken. It is 12 yards out from the Goal for U-12 & older and less for U-8 & U-10. Soccer Penalty Mark

Performance - Hydration and energy replacement can both affect the performance of soccer players. Soccer Performance

Pinnie - (aka Training Vests or Bibs) A mesh or nylon practice vest used to identify teams during practice. Soccer Pinnie

Pitch - English term for any type of sports field. Soccer Pitch

Played - (e.g., "at the instant the ball is played" or "after the ball has been played"). Refers to a pass or kick & not to dribbling & not to a player without the ball. The term "played" is critical to the definition of "offside". (See "Late Tackle" & "Offside"). Soccer Played

Players - The rules, which are called the "Laws of the Game," call for 11 players per side, although a team can play with as few as 7. However, most youth leagues play with fewer than 11 until age 12 or 14. Contact your soccer association to discuss their rules or go to "Laws of the Game" at (See "Formations", "Positions" and "Small Sided"). Soccer Players

Playing Distance - Within 3 feet of the ball. (Several rules make reference to "Playing Distance" without defining it; "Obstruction" & "Shoulder Charge", for example). Soccer Playing Distance

Pop It - A verbal signal for "Pass To Yourself". See "Pass To Yourself" & "Verbal Signals". Soccer Pop It

Positions - See "Forwards" (F), "Fullbacks" (FB), "Midfielders" (MF), "Goalkeeper" (GK), and "Stopper" (S) & "Sweeper" (SW). LF is Left F, CF is Center F, RF is Right F, etc. In designating positions, as you face the other team's goal, Right (e.g., RMF) is to your right. (See "Formations", "Small Sided", "Number of Players" & "Zone Defense"). Soccer Positions

Possession Style - An "indirect" style of play that emphasizes ball control and many short passes, as opposed to long airballs. The argument in favor of this style is that it teaches players to control the ball. The argument against overemphasis on this style is that players can lose sight of the real objective, which is to score, and not to just see how many consecutive passes can be made (i.e, a team should possess the ball in order to score, but the objective is to score and not to just possess the ball).

Most people agree that Possession Soccer is an ideal way to play BUT the problem with playing Possession Soccer is that it requires a great deal of skill by the players involved, and if your team loses the ball in front of your goal, your opponent might score an easy goal - that is true even for the best professional teams and because of that a lot of teams don't play "Possession" in dangerous situations near their goal, they simply clear the ball away from their goal if opponents are nearby. My recommendation is to have your team play Possession Soccer to the extent they are realistically capable. Very few teams in the world can play 100%, Full-Field Possession Soccer against teams of equal speed (it is easier against slower teams). If you have a typical U12 Select Team (100% good, skilled players), they can probably play Possession Soccer in the Middle Third and your Attacking Third, and pass the ball out of your Defensive Third if opponents aren't pressuring the ball. But if you have a typical Rec team that has some unskilled and timid players, it is impossible to play 100% Full-Field Possession Soccer because you have "weak links" and the best you can hope for is to play Possession Soccer in your Attacking Third or Attacking Half, where your skilled players are. ADVICE - If you have a Rec team, encourage your players to play Possession Soccer to the extent they can, BUT don't try to make them do something they simply can't do, because they will be unsuccessful and it won't be fun. Remember that every team is different - be realistic about your team and remember that you can't play Possession Soccer if your team has "weak links" who can't pass the ball while under pressure (it is much harder to maintain possession if there is defensive pressure, and the greater the pressure, the harder it is to maintain possession). It can be argued that the best Attacking Style is one that mixes short and long passes - that is true in other sports such as American football and is logical because the threat of a long ball keeps opponents from crowding up when you have the ball in your Defensive Half (some opponents will have to stay at the Halfway Line to defend against long balls).

Some people think "Possession Soccer" cannot be combined with "Attacking Soccer" (meaning a more direct style that uses long passes and long "over-the-top" airballs), but that is not true. In fact, the two styles can be effectively combined. For example, the Amsterdam professional team Ajax (pronounced "eye' ax") does so, often playing a series of short passes in the "middle third" (in order to lull the opponent and to give their Forwards time to go forward) and then suddenly sending a long airball into the Penalty Box. See "Styles of Play", "Formations" and "Attacking Plan" for more information and attacking styles more suitable for recreational teams. Soccer Possession Style

Post Line - An imaginary line extending perpendicular from a goal post. This is a useful term when describing positioning. Soccer Post Line

Post-Up Run - An attacker backs into a defender, receives a pass, spins and quickly passes to a teammate who is breaking through the Flat back Line. Soccer Post-Up Run

Power Shot - (aka "Drive"). See "Drive". Soccer Power Shot

Practice Games - Soccer Practice Games

Practice Plans - Soccer Practice Plans

Practicing - See "The Game Is The Best Teacher". Soccer Practicing

Press - When a team "Pushes Up", it is similar to a "press" in basketball & there are special tactics for "beating the press". (See "Push Up"). Soccer Press

Pressure - There must be pressure on the ball any time it is in scoring range or close enough to your goal that it could be centered (or crossed) to the front of the goal. Over 50% of goals scored occur when there is a lack of pressure on the ball. Pressure slows down the attack & makes it much more difficult to get a clear shot on goal or to deliver a good pass into the center. You should also teach your forwards & MF's to pressure the ball to try to win it back any time it is near the other team's goal. For example, they should aggressively double-team the ballhandler to try to win the ball back after a turnover near the other team's goal. This can be a great scoring opportunity if you can win the ball &, if you accidentally foul, a free kick is too far away from your goal to score. (See "Zone Defense", "Mark The Ball" & "First Defender"). Soccer Pressure

Professional Foul - (aka "Tactical Foul"). An intentional foul for the purpose of stopping the attacker from breaking away to goal or to prevent a scoring opportunity. Punishable by a yellow card or red card. Also called a tactical foul. Soccer Professional Foul

Promotion - See "Relegation". Soccer Promotion

Pull - See "Checking Off", "Hooking Run" and "Show". Soccer Pull

Pullback * - (aka "Drag Back"). A pullback is executed by placing the bottom of the foot on the ball, rolling it (or flicking it) backward, and turning with it. It is a way to quickly reverse direction. Every player U-8 & older should know how to do a pullback. A "Stop/Turn" also uses the bottom of the foot to stop the ball but doesn't pull the ball back. (See "Stop/Turn"). Other primary methods of turning include the Outside-of-foot Hook and the Inside-of -foot Hook, which is also called a "Cutback". (See Practice Games, "Dribble Across a Square"). Soccer Pullback

Punting - The key to consistent punting is to face the target "square" & a consistent drop. Children's hands are small. Teach your young goalkeepers to hold the ball with 2 hands, fully extend the arms & drop the ball from waist height. This will result in a consistent drop. If punts are too low (not enough height) it means the ball is being contacted too low. If too much height & not enough distance, it is being contacted too high. The goalkeeper has six seconds after picking up the ball to punt it or release it. He is allowed to pick it up, run with it and then punt, throw it, or drop it and dribble or kick it. However, he cannot touch it with his hands outside the "Penalty Box" and once he drops it he can't touch it again with his hands until an opponent has touched it. (See "Fouls, Indirect", "Distribute", "Goalkeeper" & "Penalty Box"). Soccer Punting

Push Pass * (Key Concept) - The most important and most frequently used pass. Made with the inside-of-foot & called a push pass because of the long follow-through which sometimes looks like pushing the ball. The ball is struck with the part of the foot under the anklebone. This is the most accurate pass but best for short passes that stay on the ground. This pass is accurate because it is easy for the passer to lock his ankle. Key teaching points are to have the player face the target and square up so he, the ball & the target are in a straight line, keep both knees slightly bent, pull up the toes so the kicking foot is parallel to the ground, lock the ankle on contact and follow through toward the target. An advantage of this pass is that when receiving the ball the leg will stop the ball if it takes an unexpected bounce. (See "Toe Kick", and "Inside-of-Foot Pass"). Soccer Push Pass

Push Up * (Key Concept, U-10 & up) - Read "Should You Push Up When You Attack? Or Should You Defend Deep?" The term "push up" refers to fullbacks or midfielders moving forward toward the halfway line. In certain formations and if your team has speed and stamina, you should "push up" when you attack or any time the ball is near the other team's Penalty Box, even if the other team has the ball, so you can support your attack or put pressure on the ball. To build an attack (especially on a large field) it is an advantage to have everyone, including the defenders, shift with the ball. This allows your team to keep "shape" so there is "support". Moving the fullbacks up also has the advantage of keeping the other team away from your goal because they will be "offside" if they go past the last defender before the ball passes him. This keeps the attackers out of scoring range, but defenders must be quick to fall back if the ball gets past them. This is why some teams use a "Sweeper". A Sweeper is a very fast player with good endurance who is not afraid to make contact to stop the ball & clear it. The Sweeper will play slightly behind the fullbacks or as a Center Fullback with a "Stopper' in front of him. (The Stopper doesn't have to be as fast, but must be tough and able to stop the ball). The Sweeper will run down any through balls or breakaways and kick the ball out of bounds over the side line to slow down the other team's attack so your team will have time to recover. If your fullbacks are slow and you want to push them up when you attack, consider using a Sweeper. An alternative is to use a "stacked" soccer formation such as a 3-2-3-2 , a 3-2-2-3 or a 3-1-3-3 and "Defend Deep", as described in "Formations" and "Attacking Plan".

Once a team is "pushed up", the FB's won't automatically fall back when they lose the ball but may stay pushed up to apply pressure & try to steal the ball back. This is kind of like a defensive "press" in basketball & it is hard to dribble thru these FB's when they are pushed up. The way to break thru & beat the "press" is by playing "through balls", "give & go's" & "passing to yourself". If your opponent's FB's are pushed up, it creates the opportunity for a fastbreak counterattack. In recreational soccer it is best to not push up if you play on a long field and the other teams Forwards are faster than your Fullbacks. An alternative is to use a formation that creates more depth, such as a 3-2-3-2 and to "defend deep". This is described in detail in "Formations" and "Attacking Plan". (See "Attacking Plan", "High Line", "Last Defender", "Through Ball" "Pass To Yourself", "Give & Go", "Formations", "Defending Deep", "Styles of Play", "Sweeper", "Stopper" & "Defending to Win").

Note for U6 and U8 Coaches about Whether to Push Up or Defend Deep:

If you are a U6 coach, don't worry about tactics, just have fun.

If you are a U8 Rec coach, you are probably better off to Push Up your Fullbacks to the Halfway Line when you attack instead of Defending Deep and having your Fullbacks stop on the Penalty Box Line. There are 2 reasons: The first reason is because your opponents probably can't attack as a team so the threat of giving up a lot of goals on breakaways isn't great. The second reason is that many U8 Rec coaches probably can't train their Midfielders and Forwards to drop back to a position to win cleared balls when their goal is under attack. Defending Deep only works if the Coach can train his Midfielders and Forwards that when their goal is under attack they MUST come back to a position where they can win cleared balls. If the MFs and Fs don't drop back to win the cleared balls, it is a disaster because the team Defending Deep can never clear the ball out of its Defensive Third and the opposing team will win all the balls your Fullbacks try to clear.

Remember, every situation is different and your decision should be based on your players and opponents, but if I coached a typical U8 Rec team, I would start by Pushing Up my Fullbacks when I attacked. IF I faced a great team that was scoring on breakaways, then I might consider Defending Deep, BUT I would only Defend Deep if I was able to train my MFs and Fs to drop back to a position to win cleared balls when our goal was under attack, because otherwise we would never clear the ball out of our Defensive Third. As I mention below, I might consider splitting the difference and Pushing Up halfway to the Halfway Line because that would stop most of the breakaways and your Fullbacks wouldn't be as far from your MFs and Forwards, so it would be easier for the MFs and Forwards to win cleared balls.

Of course, keep in mind that there are lots of variations of Defending Deep and Pushing Up and being "Pushed Up half way" and "Defending Deep half way" are the same thing - your Fullbacks would be halfway to the Halfway Line in either case. Pushing Up halfway to the Halfway Line would stop most of the breakaways and your Fullbacks wouldn't be as far from your MFs and Forwards, so it would be easier for the MFs and Forwards to win cleared balls. If you coached a U8 Rec team you would probably tell your Fullbacks that their job is to kick the ball forward or to slow down the attack until your midfielders can recover to help.

You ca-robably get away with Pushing Up slow Fullbacks to the Halfway Line until about U9 or U10 most of the time. The reason is that most soccer teams simply don't have the skill to counterattack until U9 or U10. But by U9 or U10, if you Push Up slow Fullbacks against a well-coached team, you will give up lots of goals on breakaways. So, you will be able to beat poorly coached teams, but not well-coached teams.

If you have the speed to do so, Pushing Up your Fullbacks is definitely preferable. If you Defend Deep, Push Up your Fullbacks to at least to the Penalty Box Line - don't leave them on the Goal Box Line, that won't help you much and they will be in your Goalie's way. Soccer Push Up

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