What Should You Say As A Goalkeeper To Help Your Team?

One of the most important duties of a goalkeeper is to make sure that their defensive line is properly positioned at all times. Also, it’s the goalkeeper’s job to alert their team members of upcoming pressure when that player has his or her back turned to where the pressure is coming from. In short, as a goalkeeper, you need to be able to communicate. This is a part of the game that a lot of goalkeepers struggle with, either for personality issues in that you’re not a big screamer or you just don’t really understand how to read the game. 

A lot of coaches are going to demand that their keepers be overly communicative. What ends up happening though is that those keepers just yell out senseless things that can alarm defenders in a negative way. My theory has always been if what you’re about saying really doesn’t help anyone don’t say it. Also, mold your communication to your personality. Some keepers are big talkers and they can play that way, and that’s fine. If you’re not a bigger talker don’t force yourself to be one. Especially in higher levels of competition players say through fake people pretty quickly. Sometimes it takes time and games to be able to develop good communication. It’s not just something you can wish into existence. 

What Do You Need To Be Concerned With As A Keeper? 

Your first priority as a keeper is positioning. You need to make sure that you’re in the right spot first before you can start barking out orders. Playing in goal is not a stationary position at all! This is the first mistake that people make, and quite frankly not every coach under the sun knows how to coach this. Especially if he or she never played a game in goal.

I plan to do a whole article about positioning with examples later on, but for now, the simple concept behind positioning is trying to move towards the side where the ball is at an angle. From the spot that you’re in you should be able to step and dive towards the far post or take steps back to reach a ball that could potentially be going over your head. Some keepers love to bark when they are right in the middle of the goal standing up completely straight in no position to make a play on the ball regardless of where it’s played. Take care of yourself first and then read the field to see what you can help out. 

Counter Attacks & Just Overall Attacking 

Screaming when you’re coming out for a cross is a decent habit, but it’s not the most important thing in the world. In my view, one of the most important commands that you have to get into the habit of expressing as a keeper is pointing out the attackers that are coming in without the ball during a counter. Defenders tend to be fixated on the ball and if you do that, there is a good chance that you’ll leave your man open at the far post.

As a keeper what you need to do is fall back quickly into position and call out to your defenders to tend to their own man. Point them out for them, or let them know that the player is making a run behind them from left to right. Try to be as quick and descriptive as you can hear. Over time everyone develops their own keywords that they have with defenders to let them know that a player is making a near-post run or a far post-run.

You can use some of these same keywords, or little say things like “Number nine is making a run behind you,” and order your center backs to pass him off to the next player or to keep on them. In soccer, you typically don’t get direct coaching indications over how you should be playing defense. At least not in most youth levels and even in some of the higher levels of competition further down the line. Are you going to be playing man or are you playing zone? Usually, it’s going to be better to play a bit of a zone. It’s not a complex thing, it’s just making sure that you understand that each player in the defense has set movements that he or she needs to make. 

With ball happy center backs you need to make sure that they are not always trying to put pressure on the player carrying the ball. All that usually causes is a major gap that other players can exploit by making runs and through balls that are going to see you picking up the ball from the back of the net or in the best case scenario force you to win a 1v1 play. You are only going to be able to win so many times until you concede a goal. In any level of football, many goals end up being conceded because defenders want to actively chase the ball. As a goalkeeper, one of your important instructions revolves around keeping your guys in position. Not ball chasing can help even some of the most limited center backs do a decent job. 

What To Say On A Corner Kick 

One guy on the near post is the old school way of doing things, and I still believe it has been proven to work. Usually, you want one guy in the near post and one guy in the far post. Usually, the attacking team is going to put 5 or 6 guys in the box at the most. What you can do is put the two guys in the posts play man to man with the 5 or 6 guys that are attacking and have one guy free that is going for the ball and your team’s strikers should be rebounding outside the box.

Some teams will put the short guys on rebound duty, that’s fair as well. As long as those short guys can at least keep the ball or clear it when need be. Ideally, this is something that you should practice. There are coaches that are very detailed about this and maybe will want to play a zone marking scheme.       

In any case, with two or three words you should be able to set everything up. Before the game make sure that players know who goes near and who goes far post if you have that down, you can set everything up very easily. If you see other players coming into the box late you can tell the player that was going free to the ball to get them or have one of the players on your team that was on rebound duty to come in. 

The next step for corner kicks is that you usually want to get your teammates out real fast otherwise you’re going to be defending inside your own box. So if the ball is cleared even if the clearance is a bit short you want to move them out. This is maybe the only time that you should be frantically wanting to push everyone out. Again though order is important you’re typically going to want your center mid guys or even your forwards attacking the ball while your center backs stay on their man. This is another moment during the game where you see that over pursuing kills and leaves spaces that the other team can exploit. Yell for everyone to get out while still pointing and indicating where players are and who you want in each spot.

Communicating With Your Fullbacks 

The reality is that as a goalkeeper you’re probably going to be communicating with your center backs the most because they are the ones closest to you. Most of the interactions that you’re going to have with other players revolve around warning about incoming pressure or during corner kicks or free kicks when you’re setting up a wall. There are keepers that want to yell at everyone, that’s mostly for show. If that’s part of your personality that’s fine. If it’s not though you shouldn’t force it. Now, obviously, you’re going to have to communicate with your fullbacks, at least a bit. 

The interactions with your fullbacks are going to be mostly to come in towards the box. If you’re left fullback is beat and your center back has to go out on the wing to put pressure on an offensive player you want your right center back to move towards your near post and your right fullback to cover the far post. Ideally, your center mid can cover the top of the box and your right midfielder can cover their winger as well. All you’d have to say is anything signaling the right back to cover the far post and maybe hit up your right midfielder or defensive midfielder to have them cover the penalty spot area or even the backside. 

How Often Should You Be Saying Something?

Speak when you have something to say! I know there are coaches out there that want to push you to talk more. If that’s what you have to do then that’s fine. I feel that most of the time some of the more talkative keepers are saying things that are redundant. There is a dumb notion that speaking with authority means frantically yelling it people and this is something that can rub some players the wrong way.

Teach keepers to sound loud enough to where they can be heard. In time you also learn to use your voice in different tones. If you’re just telling a player to keep an eye out for something you don’t have to sound like it’s a matter of life and death. A big part about being a goalkeeper is being able to make the rest of your teammates feel calm that you’re guarding the net. You don’t want to make them feel anxious every time you let out a scream like you’re announcing a tragedy.                        

You can talk constantly as in all of the time. If you talk calmly to your center backs or other defenders. Again, those are the people that you mostly need to be talking to in the first place. If you’re playing with a back 4 or back five hybrids then you’re probably going to need to include your defensive midfielder in the conversations to coordinate. Usually what you’re coordinating is who has pressure on the ball and then what are the rest of the guys or girls doing. You are mostly going to want your defenders to shift towards the ball but focus more on the positioning of opposing players.    

Talk About The Game With Your Actual Teammates 

Many times in the youth game the coaches will speak after the game and never give the kids a chance to talk about what they saw and what happened. Naturally, this is something that you can start doing maybe around ages 10 or 11. The reason that I have not given out key words, or said tell your defender that he has a man on or whatever, is because those things are situations that you can develop with your teammates. You can say “red” or “sausage” for all I care when one of your teammates is being pressured from the blindside. The important thing is to make sure that you’re all on the same page.

That’s something that’s only going to come from talking about the game after it’s over. I’m someone who is a soccer geek. I really don’t mind talking about defensive scheming or strategy in general. These days I do it over a BBQ after the game when I‘m relaxing. The only real way to get better as a team is to understand what the other person is doing and what the other person is seeing. Once you have that down you don’t need to be an extreme yeller. All you have to do is say a couple of things have a quick conversation on the field and things will take care of themselves.