What Is A Nutmeg In Soccer?

For anyone who has played soccer frequently enough, they likely know how important it is to be able to execute your skills accurately and properly. If you can pull off these skills well, with style, and show up your opponents, this is even better.

So, if you want to know which skill is the best for doing this, then look no further than the nutmeg. This is a classic soccer skill which is perfect for gaining the advantage.

What Is A Nutmeg In Soccer

This article will go into detail on what exactly this skill is, why it is called a nutmeg, and how to do it, as well as defend against it. So, if you want to learn more about a nutmeg in soccer, keep reading!

What Actually Is A Nutmeg In Soccer?

While the skill which is pulling off a nutmeg is simple to understand and in its principle, it is actually pretty difficult to pull off when you are trying to do it, especially during a tense game with stakes.

The exact action of doing a nutmeg is dribbling and then kicking the ball between the legs of an opponent and subsequently going past them to receive the ball which you kicked through their legs on the other side.

While this sounds like it could be simple, it is actually quite a difficult and risky move to try and pull off, and only the most technically skilled players are usually willing to attempt it.

However, it is a rewarding technique to pull off since it is impressive to watch visually, but it is also very effective once it has been done properly.

This is exemplified in just how many famous players pull off this technique regularly and are well known for being successful when doing it.

As well as being a very popular technique for professional soccer, this is also a trick that is incredibly popular within street football communities as a trick to try and do.

There is a street version of football called Panna which is common in the Netherlands and part of the main focus of this version of the sport is doing a nutmeg quite commonly.

This is a great technique for humiliating your opponent as well as making yourself look better. However, it is just as risky since if you fail to pull it off correctly, you end up looking worse yourself.

This is why we heavily recommend testing and practicing this skill regularly before you try to do it yourself.

Why Do We Call It A Nutmeg?

So, now you know what a nutmeg is, the next question most people ask is why it has such a weird and specific name. There is not one explanation for why it is called a nutmeg and plenty of different people have their own explanation for why.

One of the first recorded uses of the phrase nutmeg in the context of soccer was in 1977 by a lover of the sport Brian Glanville in his story A Bad Lot. However, if you look into it a bit deeper, he did not really use it to refer to football specifically.

It is also worth noting that the word nutmeg also has a definition as Victorian slang as it was used as a phrase to mean that you are being conned or duped.

The more historical use of the word was actually discussed in a book by Peter Seddon called Football Talk and this spoke about how nutmegs were exported between England and North America.

Since they were so popular, people would often try and switch out a nutmeg for a wooden copy of one so they could sell them for more as a scam. Because of this association people started to say that getting nutmegged meant you were being made to look stupid.

There is also another explanation with cockney rhyming slang, this is because with this the word nutmeg often means leg, however there are some more lewd explanations for this.

There is of course the association between testicles and nuts, and since the ball is being passed between the legs, you can see where the connection would come from. It is worth pointing out that the trick is also not called nutmeg globally.

The word for it in different languages usually means something like tunnel or pipe, however the Korean word is perhaps the most entertaining being Alggagi which translated to hatching an egg.

What Is A Nutmeg In Soccer

How To Nutmeg

So, if you like what you have heard about pulling off a nutmeg, and you want to try doing the trick yourself, you probably want to know what the best way to do it is!

The first thing which you want to do is to make sure you are approaching from the right angle, otherwise the trick will not work. You want there to be a noticeable gap between their legs which will be easier to exploit when you are not coming from the side.

You will need to ensure that you have the right timing, this is because there needs to be sufficient room behind them so you can get into it to receive the ball once it has been past them.

Furthermore, you also do not want to be worrying about an opponent being able to gain possession after the ball has gone through.

Once you are sure you have the right timing and position you will want to attempt to kick the ball gently through the legs, not too hard that you lose track of it and that you will be able to get it once it is through.

You want to make sure not to rely on the trick too often otherwise defenders will come to expect it and be able to stop you easily, this is what you want to avoid.


Nutmegging is all about ensuring there is a false sense of security with the defender, so if you want to try it, make sure they do not see it coming. If it is a skill you are confident in, it can improve your play significantly!

Adrian Turner
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