In this football language post we look at the word ‘ball watching‘. You can read a transcript for this 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

Football Language: Ball watching

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The phrase ‘ball watching‘ is used when a player is looking at the ball and not at the player he or she is supposed to mark which means that his or her opponent is free. This idea of ball watching is linked to a lack of concentration and sometimes pundits will say that a defender has switched off because they were not concentrating on marking their opponent and instead are looking at the ball. The phrase ‘to be caught ball watching‘ is a typical collocation with the idea of ‘caught’ suggesting that the defender was not ready due to a lack of concentration. To be caught ball watching.

  • Example: The defender was accused of ball watching and allowed the forward to score
  • The Zambian coach admitted that his side ‘had been caught ball watching’ in their U-17 defeat against Guinea.
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Learn English Through Football

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BEpisode 36