Follow me:

Football Language: Sloppy

sloppyIn this football language post we explain the adjective ‘sloppy‘. This adjective is often used in connection with defending or passing. Don’t forget we have hundreds more explanations of football language in our football glossary. If you have questions or comments about this or any other phrase then email us at:


To be sloppy is to be casual, messy; it means to be careless on not do something properly. The adjective is used in football mostly with two words – defending and passing. Sloppy defending means bad defending and implies that the defender or defence were lazy and not trying or concentrating. Here’s an example in the Mirror online, and is a comment by ex-Ireland and Manchester United midfielder on an England performance: “England obviously gave a shocking goal away. It was sloppy, lazy defending.” (Mirror, July 2018).

Sloppy passing means that players are giving the ball away by passing badly, often by not hitting the ball firmly enough or not looking before passing. Here is a headline from the Athletic using this pattern: “Slow starts and sloppy passing have to be rectified if Norwich’s away form is to improve” (September 2019).

You may also hear sloppy with ‘performance’ or ‘game’ too.

Related Vocabulary

Check out our glossary of footballing phrases here. If you have any suggestions or questions, contact us at
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 Glossary