Football Language: Cushion
This word is used both as a verb, to cushion the ball, an adjective, a cushioned header, and as a noun, to have a cushion. When used as a verb, to cushion, means to pass or shoot in a controlled, delicate way. The ball is passed to a player, who then guides or directs the ball, taking the speed off the pass or cross. We can use the adjective to describe this kind of shot, header or pass: a cushioned header is a header with no force or power added, the player simply directs the ball skillfully into the net.
Here are some examples; the first is from a BBC match report: “Massey nodded home a cushioned header from Clarke to silence Elland Road after the interval” (BBC April 2019). This second describes a shot resulting in a goal and is again from a BBC match report: “The visitors’ lead lasted only five minutes before Camps drew Dale level when he cushioned Stephen Dooley’s lay-off into the ground and the bounce beat McLaughlin as he dived to his right in vain.” (BBC August 2019).
As a noun, a cushion refers to a gap in points between two sides either in a game, a two-goal cushion, or in the league, a five point cushion. So a cushion is a safe lead, the team with the cushion can afford to give away a goal or some points because they have a cushion – a gap. Here’s an example from a headline in the Daily Mirror (May 2019): “Arsenal 3-1 Valencia: Gunners give creaky defence two-goal cushion to protect.”