Follow me:

Football Language Podcast: Heavy

The Learn English Through Football podcast explains the language of football: the words, phrases, and cliches used in the game. This week, we look at the word ‘heavy’, and how can be used in football. You can find a transcript of the show below, which is great for learners of English to practice listening and reading skills. Teachers of English can also use it to create activities, such as fill in the blanks, true/false, comprehension questions, sentence ordering activities, etc. You can also check out our massive glossary of footballing phrases here. We have hundreds of previous posts and podcasts too on our website. All  can access these resources for free.  Let us know if you have any suggestions or questions then you can contact us at

Learn English Through Football

heavyDB: Hi there everyone and welcome to’s football language podcast. My name’s Damon, and I’m enjoying the sun over here in Japan. Damian, the other half of the Languagecaster team is in London, where England have just lost a warm up game before the Euros in Germany.

Damian has posted recently about the phrase ‘do the double‘ and which teams achieved it or were close in Europe this year (2024). Come along to to check that out, or subscribe to the podcast via your favourite podcast feed.

On this week’s football language podcast we’re taking a look at the word heavy and how it is used with other words to talk about football. But first, here’s a message from one of our supporters.

Stinger: You are listening to (in Turkish)

DB: Yes, you are listening to languagecaster and that message was in Turkish. Thank you Mert! And now it’s time to kick off and discuss today’s word – heavy.

Heavy Challenge

DB: OK, so heavy is used commonly in three phrases: a heavy challenge or tackle, a heavy defeat, and a heavy touch. Let’s start with the first one.

A heavychallenge is a strong tackle. It usually means that the player being tackled was hurt in the tackle or even injured. When we use the phrase, we are not usually criticising the tackler. The tackle is very physical but it may be a fair tackle. If it is a bad tackle, we might say it was a reckless challenge, a leg breaker, or a dirty tackle for example.

Here’s an example from the Guardian match report on the England vs Iceland game last night: ‘John Stones, who took a heavy challenge at the outset before making way at half-time, was off the pace. Stones would depart with his right foot heavily strapped.’

So, John Stones was hurt in a heavy challenge and was replaced to make sure he wasn’t injured further.

Heavy Touch

DB: Another way heavy is used is with touch, a heavy touch. This describes how a player controls the ball. It means the player receiving the ball does not control the ball as they wanted to. The ball moves further away from the player than they wanted. It makes the next touch more difficult. It is often used with ‘first’ – a heavy first touch.

Here’s an example from a Daily Mail match report on Chelsea v Bournemouth in the 2019-20 season: ‘Twice Josh King broke behind Chelsea lines in the second half. On the first occasion he was clean through and leaving Kurt Zouma for dead, but a heavy touch allowed Zouma to recover and block.’

So, King’s mis control, heavy touch, meant the defender, Zouma, could block King’s next touch, which was a shot. This example, also includes a wonderful phrase, ‘to leave someone for dead’, which means to go past the opposition player easily.

Heavy Defeat

DB: And the last combination, we’ll look at today is a heavy defeat, which simply means a big defeat. It is commonly used with the  verb suffer, so ‘team A suffered a heavy defeat’. Which means they lost by a lot of goals.

This phrase is in this example from ‘The Red Devils come into the game in troubled form, having suffered a heavy defeat to relegation candidates Bournemouth at Old Trafford, before crashing out of the Champions League on Tuesday.

The Red Devils are of course Manchester United, and they were beaten 3-0 at home by Bournemouth, a bad defeat.

Stinger: Your are listening to (Iceland fan)

Thank you for that message, which was in Icelandic.


DB: So, that brings us to the end of today’s short football language podcast. Remember you can come along to and leave a comment on this post or send us a message to You can follow us on all the usual social media sites, just search for Languagecaster. Remember to like, follow, and spread the word.

We looked at three phrases. There was a heavy tackle or challenge, a heavy touch, and a heavy defeat. Tune in again next week for more football language!

Thanks for listening and enjoy all the football. Ta-ra!

Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football
Hosted by

I was born and brought up near Chester in the north west of England. I have always loved playing and talking about sport, especially football!
Google | Facebook | Twitter | Mail | Website

Join the discussion

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More from this show

Football Phrase 2024