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Football Language: (to) Flap

FlapThis post on the language of football explains the meaning of the verb ‘to flap’, which is a word used in connection with goalkeeping. If you have questions or comments about this or any other phrase then email us at:

Football Language: (to) Flap

This week’s football phrase is the verb ‘to flap’. This is a verb used to talk about goalkeeping, and specifically about a goalkeeping error. If a goalkeeper flaps at the ball, they weakly try to catch or punch the ball but miss the ball completely or only weakly touch it. Often, if a keeper flaps at the ball, it can result in a goal, as the all is not cleared or caught and can fall to a striker.

Here is an example from the BBC report on Tottenham versus Watford game this weekend:

  • Example: ‘…when Hornets goalkeeper Ben Foster flapped at a late cross, Alli controlled the ball with his shoulder before firing into the unguarded net.BBC report (October 2019)

Here, we’ve got the classic elements when using this verb. There was a cross – Foster flapped at a late cross – and the flap led to a goal – Alli fired into the net. To flap.

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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
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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!
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