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What is a Hat Trick in Soccer?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated May 23, 2024
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A hat trick in soccer occurs when a player scores three goals in one game. The term "hat trick" in sports is used to refer to a certain accomplishment by a player during competition, with the feat usually involving three of something — such as goals scored — and varying according to the sport. It is believed that the term originated in cricket in the 19th century, but it has come to be used in many other sports, including soccer and hockey. There also are variations of a hat trick in soccer that involve a player scoring three goals in certain ways, such as consecutively within the same period or by striking the ball in certain ways.

Qualifications

As is the case in many sports, there a some informal rules regarding the use of the term "hat trick" in soccer. For example, if the match is tied after extra time and goes to a penalty-kick shootout, any goals scored do not count toward a hat trick. Thus, a hat trick in soccer can occur only during regulation time, added time and extra time. Any goals scored on penalty kicks before a shootout would count toward a hat trick.

Variations

If a soccer player scores three consecutive goals in one period, it is referred to as a flawless hat trick. If another player on either team scores a goal between any of the three scores by the other player, so that the three goals are not consecutive, then it still is a hat trick but not a flawless hat trick. Another type of hat trick in soccer is a golden hat trick or perfect hat trick, which requires the player to score one goal by kicking with the right foot, one goal by kicking with the left foot and one goal by striking the ball with his or her head. The three types of goals can be scored in any order. This type of hat trick requires tremendous skill and is seldom accomplished.

Origin of "Hat Trick"

The use of the term "hat trick" in sports is believed to have originated in 1858, when H.H. Stephenson, a bowler in cricket, was given a hat after successfully taking three wickets in three balls. The term probably is most widely used in hockey. When a hockey player scores a third goal in one game, many fans celebrate by throwing hats onto the ice. This was an especially popular celebration in the early 20th century, when men often wore formal hats to sporting events, but it has continued into the 21st century.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Sports n' Hobbies contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By kentuckycat — On Oct 16, 2012
@jmc88 - I agree, and feel like not just anyone can be able to accomplish a hat trick in soccer.

A hat trick is something that requires tremendous skill and the ability of the player to play so well that they are able to not just score a goal in soccer, very hard I may say, but be able to do it three times.

It seems like whenever a soccer player scores a goal, it sparks a tremendous celebration by the crowd and the player is seen as a heroic warrior. The fact that a player scores three goals in a game has to only heighten this type of emotion and cause the player's feat to be celebrated for years to come.

By jmc88 — On Oct 15, 2012

@cardsfan27 - I played soccer a couple years at a local level and felt like it was near impossible for anyone to make a hat trick.

I know looking at it from a larger scale, it probably happens all the time, but one still has to play at a high level, no matter what type of competition they are playing, and they have to be gifted in order to score three goals in a single game, let alone be able to get a "golden hat trick."

By cardsfan27 — On Oct 14, 2012

@Izzy78 - Although I do agree that there is more scoring in hockey, a hat trick in soccer happens a lot more often than you think.

Although it is still a rare occurrence at the elite professional level, it is not that rare of an occurrence at local clubs or even in small to mid level professional clubs.

Usually hat tricks almost never occur at large scale events where the best players in the world play simply because the defense is too good and it is hard for a single player to outshine everyone else on the field at that high level of play.

By Izzy78 — On Oct 13, 2012
I have to say that although it seems like a hat trick can be associated with soccer, it is fact and incredibly rare feat, almost to the point that it is almost entirely associated with hockey.

Like soccer, hockey is usually low scoring, but the sport does produce slightly more scoring, enough for it to allow a hat trick to be an uncommon, but not necessarily really rare occurrence.

Soccer, on the other hand, almost never produces hat tricks, as it is an achievement for an entire team to score three goals in a match, let alone a player.

By Belted — On Oct 13, 2012

A hat trick is rare in professional soccer but definitely not unheard of. Do you guys have a favorite, or one that sticks out in your mind for being truly amazing?

By gravois — On Oct 12, 2012

I played soccer in high school and over the course of my career I had three hat tricks. I was young and cocky and pretty full of myself so I figured, hat trick? No big deal, anyone can do this, or at least I can.

Then I went on to college and played for four years and never had more than one goal a game. And a game with a goal was rare. So that did a lot to cut down my ego. In the end it was probably a good thing.

By anon168209 — On Apr 16, 2011

Unfortunately, cricket isn't popular around the world. It's well known only by three developed nations (England, Australia and New Zealand). Most people don't know about cricket but the Cricket World Cup is the third most popular international tournament in the world. These comments show that most people don't know about cricket. It's true that the term "hat trick" originated from cricket in 1858 in England.

By anon166886 — On Apr 10, 2011

1) hat trick comes from cricket.

2)soccer is the best sport and the most watched sport. it's not stupid.

By anon152303 — On Feb 13, 2011

this is so wrong. "hat trick" came from hockey, the most awesome sport in the world. it was because when a player scored three goals in one game, everyone would throw their hats onto the ice, and it still happens today. hat tricks are awesome! sad that other stupid sports stole the saying and don't throw hats out when it happens.

By anon55198 — On Dec 05, 2009

You might want to do some research of your own. Hockey in anything remotely resembling its modern form, dates from the nineteenth century.

Cricket, on the other hand, first appears in the sixteenth century. The likelihood of "hat trick" originating three hundred years after cricket was already on the scene instead of the other way around seems pretty remote. Cheers.

By anon39447 — On Aug 01, 2009

Please do some research into the origins of hat trick. Ironically you will find its roots in ice hockey. -Cheers

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Sports n' Hobbies contributor, Tricia...
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