Many young soccer players around the world have the same dream: scoring three goals in a game. Like Lionel Messi, Carli Lloyd, 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.

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