What is nutmeg? It’s a football term that refers to passing the ball intentionally between your opponent’s legs and moving fast to retrieve it. It’s a dribbling technique performed by top players in the world of football. When successful, the player who pulled it off feels proud and skillful as fans cheer on him. The nutmegged player, on the other hand, feels humiliated. When a nutmeg fails, however, it makes you look stupid for attempting such an advanced move.
Excellent timing is essential for a successful nutmeg. So what is nutmegging in soccer? Without further ado, let’s look at the nitty-gritty of nutmegging and when to pull it off.
Why is this soccer skill referred to as a nutmeg?
Have you ever stopped to think what the origin of the term ‘nutmeg’ could be? Well, the answer is in Peter Seddon’s novel, Football Talk’. He says the term nutmeg’ originated in England in the 19th century as a slang word meaning, to be tricked in a way that makes you look stupid’. The term ‘nutmeg’ is associated with sneaky practices performed by merchants in the nutmeg trade in the late 19th century.
During that time, nutmeg was such a priceless commodity that traders mixed it with wooden replicas in nutmeg sacks that were shipped to England. The term nutmeg’ eventually came to denote being fooled by a clever rival. How fascinating!
When can you nutmeg your opponent?
The perfect time to nutmeg your opponent is when you are fully sure the trick going to work. A nutmeg, though a clever trick, is also a convenient way of losing possession of the ball and costing your team. It’s advisable to try a nutmeg near the corners, sidelines or when speeding down the flanks since failure will get the ball out for a corner-kick or a throw-in. That being said, let’s look at situations in which a nutmeg could be a nice option and those that don’t allow a nutmeg.
Situations where nutmegging is an option
- You are speeding down the flank and you need to go past the fullback.
- You see your opponent’s legs wide open when trying to pass the ball close to them.
- You spot an opponent running quickly towards you and they are losing balance.
- You get to a one-on-one with the goalkeeper who then comes quickly to collect the ball without minding how open his legs are.
Situations where you shouldn’t nutmeg your opponent
- You are in your team’s defensive half and losing the ball can result in your team conceding a goal.
- You are participating in a serious soccer match that your team needs to win.
A nutmeg, though interesting, is a risky move. You should only do it if you have the skills and experience to execute it perfectly.
Reasons against nutmegging
The following are reasons as to why you shouldn’t go for a nutmeg move:
- If you lack the skills and luck to do it properly it can be costly for you and your team.
- Soccer is supposed to be a simple and effective game and therefore moves like nutmeg work against this principle.
- Football is a game of chances and passing the ball to your teammate grants your team better chances of maintaining ball possession than performing a nutmeg.
How to nutmeg your opponent
For you to succeed in doing this you need to bring out the element of surprise. Nutmeg moves are often successful when your opponent hardly expects them. How do you catch your opponent off guard? Draw them in and confuse them with a few dribbles before attempting a nutmeg on them.
Timing is crucial and you need to slightly predict when your opponent’s legs will allow a nutmeg.
Some few dribbles and body moves can throw your opponent off balance, creating a perfect opportunity to nutmeg them.
The following are steps to follow when attempting a nutmeg on your opponent.
4-step guide on nutmegging
- Draw your opponent away from the direction you want to go.
- Dribble the ball towards them getting them to start moving backward, not being sure when to tackle.
- Once they are about to make a tackle, slip the ball quickly between their legs.
- Finally, sprint around them to regain possession.
In a nutshell
The review above has discussed what nutmeg in soccer is and where the term originated from. Furthermore, it has explained how and when to nutmeg your opponent. When executed properly at the right time and in the correct place, nutmegging can be lethal to your opponents. It’s undoubtedly a useful trick to have in your arsenal. However, don’t perform it so often since doing so will make your play more predictable.