Many young soccer players around the world have the same dream: scoring three goals in a game. Like Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, these young players dream of the day when they, too, will score their first hat trick.

Although many people understand that a hat trick means accomplishing a particular feat three times during a game, not many know where the term came from. As it turns out, the term can be traced back to England and the sport of cricket.

In 1858, HH Stephenson took three wickets in three balls — a feat that doesn’t happen very often in cricket. According to legend, a collection was taken to honor Stephenson’s achievement, and he was presented with a hat bought with the proceeds.

Others believe that the term may have also developed from the practice of “passing 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 had begun developing new tricks, such as pulling rabbits or other small animals or objects out of hats.

Since incredible athletic deeds seem a bit magical — and might require a bit of luck — 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 “hat trick” from time to time 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 be said to 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, a “natural” or “flawless” hat trick occurs when a player scores three consecutive goals in the same game without being interrupted by any other goals. A “perfect” or “golden” hat trick happens when a player scores with the left foot, the right foot and the head.


47 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (28 votes, avg. 4.50 out of 5)
    • That’s really cool, ASD! Thank you for sharing! We bet you are an AWESOME soccer player! What position do you like to play?

  1. Some of us had never heard of the term “hat trick”… We discussed times that we have done something spectacular in a sporting event, like scoring touchdowns or making tackles 3 times in a football game. We also had some basketball stories about making a basket 3 times. We all like playing sports and talked about times we had to be good sports. If someone scores a touchdown and isn’t a good sport, it may make others around them feel nervous, sad, and mad. It may even cause fights, which we do not want! We like playing sports for the lessons we learn about life, but also because it helps us in school to be good students. Our coaches encourage us to get good grades. :)

    • You guys always amaze us with the extra WONDERing you do and discussions you have after you explore each Wonder, Kerrick Elementary School! You are AMAZING Wonder Friends! Good sportsmanship is really important, we agree! We think it is GREAT that your coaches encourage you to do your best on the field AND off! We are happy to know that so many of you enjoy sports and strive to be good student athletes! Way to go! :-)

    • Goalie is a really important position on the soccer field, Jr.! We bet you are an AMAZING goalkeeper! Thank you for sharing your comment with us today! :-)

  2. Hi, Wonderopolis.
    I play very many sports!! I am a 11 years old.
    I play baseball/softball and I sometimes play softball with my mom and her adult friends in the summer.
    Basketball is probably my dad’s favorite sport for me to play.
    Volleyball, too. Our volleyball season has just ended at our school. I am still practicing.
    And last but not least, Football!! “What? A girl playing football?” Yeah, I get that a lot!!
    As I was walking to the field, the other team was yelling and making googley eyes at me. It was kind of
    funny to hear. ;)
    I think that’s all of them. Have fun reading the super, way-long comment!! :)

    • That sure IS a lot of sports, Courtney! Thank you for sharing them all with us! We think it is AWESOME that you find so many ways to stay active in sports. We are also super proud of you for playing football and for not letting the yelling from the other team make you upset! You have a GREAT attitude and are a great role model for other athletes! Keep playing the sports you love and always try your best! :-)

  3. Hi, again.
    I almost forgot, I also did dance and cheerleading (sort of). I don’t do either anymore, so I guess that’s probably why I didn’t remember them!!

    • We’re glad you shared all the sports you have participated in, Courtney…THANK YOU! We hope you have a WONDERful day! :-)

    • We’re glad you learned something new about soccer from exploring this Wonder, KK, and we’re also glad you’re excited about trying to get your own hat trick! Good luck to you! We know you can do it…we believe in you! :-)

    • We’re glad you stopped by Wonderopolis today and learned something new about soccer, Doodaday! Thank you for leaving us an AWESOME comment! :-)

  4. I’m a 5th grader and I’m on 3 teams: Mavericks, Sharks and Barracudas. I play vs teenagers, and I’m the best at soccer on the 7th grade team soccer.

    • We think that’s GREAT, Sebbie! Way to go! Those are really cool team names, too! We like that they are all named after animals! :-)

  5. Hi, Wonderopolis. I’m 10 yrs old, and in every langton minor league soccer game I’ve ever played, I’ve scored 1 or more goals. Over 40%, I’ve scored a hat trick. I hope to be as good as my favorite player, Lionel Messi. This, in my opinion, is my favorite wonder of the day. Please do more soccer and hockey wonders!!


    • We think it’s AWESOME that you like soccer, Larry! Thanks for stopping by this Wonder and leaving us a comment to let us know! :-)

    • It’s really COOL that we have TWO fans of Wonderopolis who are also fans of the Columbus Crew, T…you and Wonder Friend, Larry! :-)

    • Thanks for sharing about your favorite soccer team, DEEEJ! We appreciate you stopping by this Wonder of the Day®! :-)

    • We think that ROCKS, soccerqueen55! Thanks for sharing that you like playing soccer. Scoring a lot of hat tricks isn’t easy…we’re proud of you! :-)

    • Thanks for visiting this Wonder and sharing your favorite soccer teams with us, Real Madrid Fan! :-)

    • Thanks for sharing that you’re a fan of soccer and team Real Madrid, Noe! We appreciate hearing from you today! :-)

  6. Many people think Barcelona is the best. But according to FIFA Real Madrid is the best. Also CR7 ( Cristiano Ronaldo) is the best soccer player.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts about Barcelona and Real Madrid, “FIFA Administrator!” We appreciate your comment! :-)

    • FC Barcelona is the best. The have the world’s best player on their team. Cristiano Ronaldo is NOT the best player in the world. I watch soccer all of the time and when you compare Messi and Ronaldo together Messi is the best.

  7. I didn’t know that the term “hat trick” came from cricket and then a magician’s tricks. To get a hat trick, could you have 2 assists and then 1 point or goal? I also learned that you could get a hat trick in a sport other than soccer.

    • Hi Kenzie! Thanks for WONDERing with us! That could be a hat trick since an assist alone is sometimes called a hat trick. Do you play soccer? Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

  8. I play soccer and I have gotten many hat tricks and golden hat tricks. They’re pretty sweet. I personally think that FC Barcelona is the best soccer team in thworld and that Lionel Messi is the best soccer player in the world. If anyone objects that then they are wrong.

    • Very cool, Autumn! We know that a hat trick is not that easy, let alone a golden hat trick! Thanks for sharing with us today, Wonder Friend!

  9. I play soccer and I have got a couple hat tricks. Also, i play every where on the field.But honestly, i think Lionel Messi is a better soccer player than Ronaldo. This was a very interesting article but I think that Barcelona is the best soccer team in the world even if people object that! XD

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


  • Wonderopolis on Facebook
  • Wonderopolis on Pinterest
  • Print

Have you ever wondered…

  • What is a hat trick?
  • Why is it called a “hat trick”?
  • Can you score a hat trick in any sport?

Wonder Gallery

girl playing soccer_shutterstock_64938637Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Have you ever scored a hat trick in any sport that you’ve played? If not, that’s OK. They’re hard to accomplish. That’s why they’re considered so special.

Have you ever noticed that, in most team sports, there are many players, but very few end up actually scoring? That’s because it takes an entire team to play a game.

Sure, certain players play offense and get the chance to score, but many other players are needed to play other positions, including defense. A team cannot play well unless it plays together as a team.

And, in any case, winning isn’t everything, right? Playing sports is about making friendships and having fun… not to mention getting some great exercise.

Just doing your best — and showing good sportsmanship while you play — are important aspects of sports that often don’t get the attention they deserve. Even if you never score a hat trick, you can still have a fun and successful experience with sports by giving it your all and representing your team by playing fair.

Do you play sports? Tell us why! Email us to let us know what sports you play.

If you have a great story about a time when you really enjoyed playing, we’d love to hear it. If you scored a hat trick once, that’s great.

We’d also like to hear about how sports have made you a better person by teaching you important lessons, such as sportsmanship.


Still Wondering

Discuss the concept of competition with National Geographic Xpeditions’ Olympic Competition lesson, which introduces students to the ancient and modern Olympic Games.


Wonder Categories/Tags

Wonder What’s Next?

Look carefully! Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day may be gone in a flash.

Upload a Photo or Paste the URL of a YouTube or SchoolTube Video.