Many young soccer players around the world have the same dream: scoring three goals in a game. They want to join the ranks of Lionel Messi, Carli Lloyd, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Megan Rapinoe. With enough practice, they, too, just might score their first hat trick!
What is a hat trick? It means an athlete has accomplished a particular feat three times during a game. In soccer and ice hockey, it means scoring three goals.
Where did this term come from? It can be traced back to England and the sport of cricket. In 1858, HH Stephenson took three wickets in three balls. This doesn’t happen very often in cricket. According to legend, a collection was taken to honor Stephenson’s achievement. He was presented with a hat bought with the proceeds.
Others believe that the term may have developed from another practice. People used to “pass the hat” around to collect donations to reward a spectacular athletic feat. The person performing the act would then be given the cash from the hat.
But what about the “trick” part? In the mid-1800s, magicians were performing new tricks. Many started pulling rabbits or other small animals or objects out of hats. Incredible athletic feats can seem a bit magical. They also might require a bit of luck. Some think the term may have become popular because of its association with these popular magicians’ tricks.
Today, the term is used in many sports, including soccer, water polo, and hockey. Of course, any sport may use it to recognize a special accomplishment involving the number three.
The term can also apply to feats other than simply scoring goals or points. Players can have a hat trick of assists (helping another player score a goal) or even strikeouts in baseball. If the move is done in threes, it can—and often will be—called a hat trick.
Is there anything better than a hat trick? Of course! Athletes are always striving to be better.
In soccer, players can score a “natural” or “flawless” hat trick. That means their goals were consecutive and not interrupted by any other player scoring. There’s also the “perfect” or “golden” hat trick. This happens when a player scores with the left foot, the right foot, and the head.
Have you ever accomplished a hat trick? It’s a very difficult feat in any sport. If you dream of one day scoring a hat trick in front of cheering fans, keep practicing! You may one day achieve your goal.