Football Language: (to) Look over Their Shoulder

Look over Their ShoulderWhat is the meaning of the phrase ‘Look over their shoulder’ in football and when do we use it?

  • Find out more about this phrase by reading the transcript below.
  • You can also find many more examples of soccer vocabulary by going to our football cliches page here and our huge football glossary here.

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Look over Their Shoulder

This football expression originally comes from the sport of horse racing. To look over their shoulder describes a jockey checking the horses close behind, perhaps nervously as they are close. In football, it describes a team worried about another just behind them on points. Another meaning of this phrase describes a player looking around (or scanning) to see if an opposition player is coming closer as they receive the ball. You might hear the phrase ‘Man on‘ from your team mates to warn you that an opponent is coming.

  • Example: Liverpool are looking over their shoulder at the two Manchester clubs, who are just behind on points – one point for Manchester City and Manchester United are four points behind.
  • Example: Xavi was a master (an expert) at checking his shoulder before receiving the ball (Soccertraining.com June 2019)
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