Shrug off a challengeIn this football language post for learners of English who love the beautiful game, of football, we look at the phrase ‘shrug off a challenge‘. You can read a transcript for this post below, while you can also check out our glossary of footballing phrases here and visit our site to access all our previous posts and podcasts. If you have any suggestions or questions then you can contact us at

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Football Language: (to) Shrug off a challenge

When a player has the ball and he or she wants to avoid being challenged or tackled by an opponent they might sometimes shrug off the challenge or the tackle. The verb to shrug means that someone wants to show that they do not really care and they do this by raising and lowering their shoulders. To shrug off something shows that you do not really care about something and so in football to shrug off a challenge or tackle means that a player is not affected by the challenge or the tackle and continues on with the ball. It is similar to the verb to dribble in that the player is running with the ball but when a player is shrugging another player off the ball it is more physical than simply going past the player.

In this week’s London derby between Chelsea and Arsenal the home side’s Belgian midfielder Edin Hazard shrugged off the challenge from Coquelin and continued his dribble towards the goal. Sometimes you might hear the phrase ‘he shrugged off Coquelin‘ where the name of the player being shrugged off is used instead of the word ‘tackle’ or ‘challenge’.  To shrug off the challenge/tackle.

  • Example:  Kane shrugged off the tackle to score.
  • Example:  She shrugged off the sliding tackle and started another attack

Connected expressions

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Football GlossaryEpisode 687