Welcome to the SoccerSpecific Terminology section. Click on a letter to jump to that section of the page or simply scroll down the alphabetical list to learn more about important fitness related terms and phrases.



Abduction – Movement of a limb away from midline of the body, such as extending the arms outward at shoulder height from a hanging-down position.

Abs – Slang for the muscles of the abdominal region.

Absolute Strength – Developed through weight training, typically involving above the 80-85% of maximum effort for each lift. Its 3 components are concentric, eccentric and static strength.

Concentric strength refers to the one-rep maximum for a movement.
Eccentric is the one-rep maximum lowering a weight under control (ranging from 30- 40% more than concentric maximum).
Static is the maximum holding strength in any given position (approx. 20% more than concentric).
Adduction – Movement of a limb toward midline of the body. Returning arms to the side from extended position at shoulders.

Aerobic exercise – Activities in which oxygen from the blood is required to fuel the energy-producing mechanisms of muscle fibers. Usually refers to steady state sub- maximal exercise (such as long distance running) Aerobic means “with oxygen.”

Agonist – A muscle directly involved in contraction and primarily responsible for the movement of a body part. (Also called a prime mover.)

Amino acids – The building blocks of protein. There are 24 amino acids, which form countless number of different proteins.

Anaerobic exercise – Short-term activities (usually highly intensity) in which muscle fibers derive working energy from stored internal compounds without the use of oxygen from the blood. These compounds include ATP, CP and Glycogen. Short bursts of “all-out” effort, such as sprinting or tackling are examples of anaerobic activities. Anaerobic means “without oxygen.”

Anaerobic Strength – Musculoskeletal force output not requiring oxygen. Involves the onset of oxygen debt and production and possible accumulation of lactic acid. Two general types of anaerobic strength endurance are:

Speed endurance involves maintaining maximum speed over an extended period of time(e.g., 100, 400, 800 meter dashes or prolonged and repetitive sprinting, tackling in soccer).
Strength endurance is exerting maximum muscular effort time after time without noticeable decline in force output. Soccer players display this quality play-after-play for 90 minutes.
Antagonist – A muscle that counteracts the agonist, gets longer when the agonist muscle shortens.

Antioxidants – Nutrients, substances and vitamins and minerals that protect against free-radicals, highly unstable molecular fragments unleashed by strenuous exercise, chemicals, polluted air, and other factors, that can cause extensive damage to the body. Free radicals are involved in emphysema, wrinkled shin, cancer, blood clots, damage to cellular components and DNA, as well as muscle pains, cramps, and fatigue, and a host of other ailments and diseases normally associated with ageing.

Atrophy – Wasting away, a reduction in size and functional ability of bodily tissues or organs. In relation to muscles, atrophy can occur during a period of injury, prolonged inactivity and ageing.

ATP – The organic compound found in muscle that, upon being broken down, yields energy for muscle contraction. Also known as “the fuel” for our muscles.

ATP/CP Sports – Explosive strength sports with movement lasting a second or two at most (examples: powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, vertical jump). The ATP/PC system is called upon in soccer during periods of explosive movements such as sprinting, jumping, tackling etc.


Barbell – Weight used for exercise, consisting of a rigid handle, with detachable metal discs at each end.

Blood – Blood is the fluid that circulates through the heart, arteries, veins and capillaries. Supplies the working muscles with oxygen and nutrients throughout the tissues of the body.


Caffeine – A chemical occurring in coffee, black tea and many soft drinks with an ability to stimulate the nervous system. In small amounts, it can create mental alertness and sharpness. Also acts as a bronchodilator. In larger amounts is can cause nervousness, anxiety, sleeplessness, and is used medicinally as a diuretic and headache remedy.

Carbohydrate – One of the three basic foodgroups. Carbohydrates are a group of chemical substances including sugars, glycogen, starches, and cellulose. They comprise the body’s main source for a new fuel for energy. They contain only carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. Carbohydrates can be classified as either a simple carbohydrate or a complex carbohydrate.

Carbohydrate loading – An eating and exercise technique used to build up extremely high reserves of glycogen in muscle fibers for maximum endurance capabilities in long-distance/long-duration athletic events. Benefits only events over 60 minutes long, where glycogen can become depleted to reduce work capacity.

Cardiac muscle – One of the body’s 3 types of muscle, found only in the heart.

Circuit training – A system of weight training involving a series of exercises for all body parts performed in sequence with short (varied) rest intervals between exercises. Used to develop both aerobic and anaerobic strength.

Concentric contraction – Shortening of a muscle due to muscle contraction.

Connective tissue – Tissue, primarily formed of collagen, that supports and provides a protective packing medium around muscles.

Cool-Down – The tapering-off period (reducing the intensity) after completion of a workout. May help reduce the soreness related to post-exercise muscle damage. Activities such as slow jogging, walking and static stretching are recommended.


Dumbbell – Equipment used for exercising, consisting of rigid handle about 14” long with weighted metal discs at each end.


Eccentric contraction – Muscle gets longer while maintaining tension.


Fartlek training – A system of training whereby the intensity of the session or run varies many times. A fartlek run might consist of: 3 minutes at 75%, 20 sec @90%, 2minutes @ 65%, 45 sec @ 85% etc. etc. The workout varies the intensity to replicate game like situations.

Fast-twitch fibers – White muscle cells that fire quickly and are utilized in strength-dependent anaerobic activities such as sprinting.

Fat – One of the three basic foodgroups. The most concentrated source of energy in the diet, providing twice the calories of carbohydrates or proteins.

Fatigue – State of decreased capacity for work due to previous workload. Can occur quickly during a high intensity maximal effort such as a long sprint during a match or during repetitive sprinting.



Heart rate – Number of times your heart beats in one minute.

Hypertrophy – Increase in both overall muscle size as well as individual muscle cell size resulting from training (especially resistance training). Caused by the adaptive process whereby the muscles add more mitochondria, sarcoplasm, interstitial substances such as water, fat, satellite cells, etc. in response to specific forms of stress. Theories also suggest an increase in the number of muscle fibers.


Intensity – In training terms, intensity refers to the difficulty of a workout or workout schedule. Heart rate is one method of gauging the workout intensity.

Interval training – Training that involves repeated bouts of high-intensity performance separated and alternated by brief rest periods. Can be performed in a running format or through the use of small-sided games. Example:Perform at 85% for 3 minutes, recover for 1 minute, and then repeat. This would be a 3:1 work to rest ratio.

Isometric Contraction – A muscular contraction whereby the muscle retains its original length while increasing in tension, but no movement occurs. Also called dynamic contraction.


Joints – A joint is formed where two bones meet.



Lactic acid – A byproduct of glucose and glycogen breakdown in anaerobic muscle energetics. A minute accumulation causes muscular fatigue and pain, and slows contraction resulting in a decrease in athletic performance. Will be produced during prolonged periods of high intensity work.

Ligament – A strong, fibrous band of connective tissue that supports and strengthens a joint by linking bones or cartilage.


Max VO2 uptake – Oxygen uptake measured in milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute. Basically, how much oxygen we can use during high intensity work.

Muscle – Tissue consisting of fibers arranged into bands or bundles that contract to perform all bodily movement.

Muscle pull (strain) – Major or minor damage to muscles from excessive use or stretching . The key to avoiding muscle pulls is proper conditioning, range-of-motion training, and strict adherence to a thorough program of warm-up and cool-down.



Obliques – Short for internal and /or external obliques, the muscles at either side of abdominals that rotate and flex the trunk.

Overtraining – Excessive training or running. Can cause injuries, anorexia, loss of body weight, insomnia, depression, chronic muscle soreness and slow workout recovery and muscle regeneration. Can eventually lead to a condition known as Overtraining Syndrome, which can take months and even years to recover from.

Oxygen debt – In intense endurance activities such as soccer, oxygen debt refers to the amount of oxygen that is “owed” to the system to remove the lactic acid build-up. A players’ tolerance for an accumulated debt is related to the level of fitness. Basically, the fitter the player, the greater the tolerance for oxygen debt.


Periodization – A process of structuring training into phases (weekly, monthly, yearly etc).

Plyometrics – A system of training whereby you use an implement (such as a medicine ball) or the ground as resistance to develop muscle tissue elasticity and stretch reflex threshold for quick explosive movements,Example: Jumping over a hurdle to the ground, then quickly rebounding into another jump.

Post-exercise muscle soreness – Microtrauma to connective tissue caused during exercise can cause irritation to local nerve endings resulting in pain. Usually sets in within 48 hours of an intense workout or training session. Several theories exist as to the cause of post-exercise muscle soreness.

Power – Strength expressed in unit of time (power = force x distance divided by time)

Protein – One of the three basic food groups. Protein is essential for growth, the building of new tissue, and the repair of injured or broken down tissue.



Repitition (Rep) – One complete movement of a specific exercise or drill.

Rest interval – Rest between sets or reps of an exercise which allows a player to recover, either partially or completely, before attempting the next exercise or set.


Skeletal muscle – Muscle that attaches to the skeleton and causes body and limb movement by a shortening or pulling action against its bony attachment.

Sprain – A joint injury involving a partial or complete rupture of ligaments.

Strength – The application of force in any circumstance.

Strength training – Refers to the use of resistance training to increase a players potential force output.

Stretch reflex – To prevent serious injury through overextension, muscles contain specialized nerve fibers that “put on the brakes” when the muscle is reaching its maximum stretch. Plyometric type activities have been shown to increase the threshold of the stretch reflex with a resulting improvement in reactive type movements (agility etc.)


Tendon – A band of extremely strong, callagenous tissue that connects muscle to bone.




Weight training – Refers to exercises that utilize progressive resistance training to gradually increase strength. Practiced by all athletes as part of an overall training program to increase strength.