How to speak Football – Turn and Face

The boys have been playing football a few seasons now and organisation-wise at least, I have this whole football mum thing bagged. I have the duvet coat and the thermal socks but I don’t appear to be able to speak football.

At one match, I was impressed with my youngest’s resilient performance in the face of a punchy opposition so found myself hollering “Keep battling on!!” Father of Misters looked at me with disgust. “He’s not a Viking”.

Wounded, I shouted back “Well, why don’t you tell me what to say then?”

So he did. Here, Father of Misters explains all in the first of our series, How To Speak Football.


For kids new to football, there’s a lot to learn – but the same is true for the parents. Many will confess they’ve no idea what to say except for “I love you” or “Give it a big kick <INSERT CHILD’S PET NAME>”. This will not wash and will humiliate your child. It will also expose you to be a football imposter.

There are however certain phrases you can use that will give you a veneer of footballing nous. Over the coming weeks, we’ll teach you how to speak football – you’ll be the envy of all your footballing parent friends!


Here’s the set-up. The ball has gone out for a throw-in for the opposing team.

As the player goes to get the ball, your defence must do 2 things; firstly, they have to move backwards towards their goal as the ball will be thrown forward by the other team. Secondly, they have to organise themselves, ready to defend the throw in.

Now most kids are not thinking like this. The minute the ball goes out for a throw, they switch off, making “L for Loser” signs. They move backwards but by turning and sauntering back so they face their mates.

This is golden for the opposition – it means that they can throw the ball wherever they want, knowing that all they have to contend with is the defenders, facing the wrong way.

This, my friends, is your moment. As soon as you sense this, you can say “TURN AND FACE”. The kids will snap to like they’ve been shot and turn around, realising that the game is back on.

If lucky, they’ll also work out who to mark, but we’ll tackle that another week.

Don’t worry if your child is not actually involved in defending the throw in. This is a team sport and you can say this to any child with his/her back turned (positively please!)- whether you made them or not.

Want to be football fluent? Check out our previous post in our “How To Speak Football” series –  Time or Man on?


As always, check with your child’s coach about tactical instructions – clearly coach can’t see everything and it might be helpful to have parental back-up – so long as it’s positive and welcome!


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