At Williams Sport Training in New Jersey you hear a lot about the physical nature of defending & goalkeeping. In this article you will read about the importance of communication between the goalkeeper & field players. Communication is essential to defend effectively in the game of soccer. Coordination amongst your backline limits shots on goal and makes things difficult for the opposition. Organized teams know when to pass players off and how to collectively cut down angles and passing lanes for opposing players. Open communication also keeps the goalkeeper focused in a game where they aren't seeing much of the ball and in games where there is lots of action.
You must understand as a keeper how important your role is. Your presence and attitude determines how your defenders perform as well as decisions attackers will make with regards to shooting on goal. If your backline doesn’t have confidence in you and doesn’t truly understand what you want from them they will defend hesitantly which in turn will cast doubt about you in your coach’s mind. Attackers will think twice before challenging a loose ball in your box if you give an aggressive demeanor. They will also think twice about shooting a ball from distance and instead look to pass and get closer to goal for an easier chance to score. More passes in your defensive third gives your players more time to get behind the ball.
During the course of a 90-minute match your side may dominate the opposition, however it take only one encounter to change the outcome of a dominant performance. As a keeper your attitude and mental focus for the entire match can determine the outcome of tight games. By communicating with your defenders a goalkeeper can keep the back line organized without being too high and minimize the chance of a defender keeping a player onside by being too deep. Awareness on the defensive side of the ball can win you many games. It is hard for defenders to be aware of everything happening around them for 90 minutes because they are focusing on the ball. Defenders are often positioning themselves so they can see the ball & the run of their mark. Being tactically sound is difficult; it takes experience and usually someone with a watchful eye. You must understand that being positioned to defend the man & the space behind you is a skill. A tactician is hard to come by at the youth level. Coaching staffs look to keepers to keep that watchful eye on the backline. Oppositions are always looking for gaps within the back line or a cheeky ball to play over the top. In the modern game, the speed of play changes quickly and often so defenders need help with perfect positioning to avoid getting diced by the killer ball. Goalkeepers are responsible for loose marks and free runners.
As a keeper being able to see the whole field is something that you can’t take for granted. Constantly tell your players what you want from them. Tell them what you see, even if they see it too. Your voice will serve as a checklist in your defender’s mind. This will give them confidence and look to make sure their fellow defenders are in check. Goalkeepers can always see the play develop and can direct which way a defender should push the opposition or step to the ball. Goalkeepers talking their players through the passing off of attackers will put the backline into positions where they can challenge every opportunity in and around the box. Talk to your defenders in training, just before a game, during halftime, and during stoppages in play. Keep them focused and address what you want in the future in case there is a scenario where you can’t communicate or your communication turned into a misunderstanding.
For set-pieces it is important for a goalkeeper to know everyone’s responsibilities. During training discuss the option of man marking or zonal marking. Designate responsibilities and be accountable. Know which positions his defenders are going to be taking up and which players they are marking. Know who will be on the wall. Putting someone on the post for corner kicks may save you every now and then. Communication is particularly vital at corner kicks, and vocal directions will help avoid miscommunication that leads to unorganized defending or an injury due to a collision.
Talking to your defender as he/she is getting backed down will help them understand what direction you want them forced. During a counter you may have to become a sweeper keeper. Direct your players clearly on which way to push the attack. Confidence is key here because in certain situations you may need to call upon your defender to direct the opposition towards goal in order to stop a better clear cut goal scoring opportunity. A clear opportunity in this circumstance is a square ball across the six-yard box or around the penalty area that leads to an easy tap-in. You can’t hesitate in these situations. You must communicate clearly and quickly to shun the counter. You must have trust in yourself to be able to step off your line and challenge aggressively, but also wisely.
Keepers must also understand this factor in communication: the tone of your voice. The way we communicate to our fellow teammates is important at the youth level. The way you address your players depends on the scenario. You must ask yourself:
1. What is the situation?
2. Is there a sense of urgency?
3. Who am I communicating to?
Keepers must know everyone’s personality. Goalkeepers need to be psychologists and understand the personalities of all their teammates to properly communicate with them. You should know when to be encouraging and when to be demanding. You can be both at the same time during certain scenarios, but choose wisely so as not to alienate your teammates.
After reading this article the biggest thing for keepers to take away from this is accountability. Keepers should act as surgeons to the game. Be tactically prepared for anything to happen. Keepers should have a check-list in their mind for every possible game scenario. Keepers should have a check-list for throw-ins, corners, set-pieces, penalties, and turnovers. Make sure you know what you want in training. Make sure you’re aware of opposing players who can thread dangerous passes and score from distance. Urge your players to always challenge these opponents. Avoid preventable goals and soft goal scoring opportunities with your communication. Be accountable, be a leader and the backbone of your defense.
About Mark Williams: Mark Williams has been a strength and conditioning coach for over 10 years during which time he has worked with athletes in every sport. He has worked with soccer players at all levels of the game from club to the professional level. His clientele includes Tim Howard (Goalkeeper of Manchester United and Everton FC) and Major League Soccer players, John Wolyniec and Tim Regan.
Owner and President
Williams Sport Training LLC
As a Division 1 men’s soccer coach, I receive countless emails, letters, and calls throughout the year regarding opportunities to play soccer and attend university. The process can be overwhelming and at times frustrating for both parents and prospective student athletes for a variety reasons; from standing out amongst the pack to NCAA recruiting rules and communication issues with coaches. Here are a few strategies to use when communicating with a school and soccer program.
Open up lines of communication with your mentors and coaches about your decision to play college soccer. The soccer community can be small. Your coaches may know the college coach or have met him or her at a coaching event. Coaches feel great when players want to continue playing and will do anything to help, such as seeking out potential playing options. References from a coaching professional also hold merit with other coaches.
Write, email, and call coaches. NCAA rules may prohibit them from responding based on your high school year but you are now on their radar. Write and email coaches expressing interest in the soccer program. Call to ask questions about the school, the soccer team, and recruiting efforts. Are they actively recruiting for your position? How many do they have at your position or are recruiting. When communicating with potential coaches it is important to be polite. Coach Benjamin or Mr. Benjamin is more appropriate than Dear Coach. We like to feel that you have researched the school and program. Many of my coaching peers think generic correspondence portrays an element of carelessness.
Communicate awards or events. Stay on the mind of the coach by emailing awards that you received, tournaments that you are attending, or challenging upcoming games. Coaches are inundated with calls, emails, playing resumes, and videos. The follow up is important to stand out.
Follow up with updates and questions until the coach reaches a decision. Depending on the year a coach may have different recruiting priorities. Your position may not be a priority at that time. When it becomes a priority you want to be the first name that comes to mind. Players are turned down or choose other options. You want to be the next name on the list. Contacting a coach once is not enough. Stay in touch with them until they say YES or NO.
The college soccer recruiting process can be challenging and is often confusing. Just like the position they play, the goalkeeper recruiting process is unique. We have detailed some keeper-specific tips to aid you in your college search and help find the right fit for your academic and athletic career.
Understand the recruiting cycle
College coaches will have years where a keeper is a priority for them and others where they do not need a keeper. It is not only if you are good enough for a program, the coach has to have a need for a goalkeeper in your recruiting class. Unfortunately, you may be good enough to play at your dream school, however, if they are not looking to recruit a keeper, then you are out of luck.
One way to educate yourself on this would be to spend time looking at the rosters of schools of interest. Although not definitive, you can get a sense of whether or not a keeper may be a priority for them by looking at the graduating years of the keepers and also which of the keepers on the roster earned minutes.
Communicate with coaches – Ask the right questions
Communication is key in the recruiting process, building relationships with college coaches will ultimately provide greater opportunities for evaluation. As a keeper you need to ask if the coach if program is looking for a keeper your recruiting class. (If NCAA rules prohibit coaches from responding to you, you should ask them to respond to your coach.)
If the program is looking for a keeper and your relationship with the coach develops, you want to determine what are the expectations for the recruited keeper. Is the coach looking for a 3rd or 4th string keeper as a back-up or is the coach looking for the keeper to compete for time their freshman year, or somewhere in between? In both these examples coaches are recruiting a keeper, however, the experience the keeper will receive will be very different.
Tournaments and showcase events
Tournaments and showcase events are great ways of getting exposure. When evaluating goalkeepers, coaches will be looking at the technical and physical traits, however, they are also looking at your presence, identified below as tactical and psychological variables:
What to include when sending video
If coaches are unable to see you play in person then a video may be your next best opportunity. Coaches prefer to see game footage, however, goalkeepers should also include some training footage. This way the training footage can showcase your technique, footwork, handling etc. and the game footage can illustrate your technique in action as well as show your decision making and presence.
Great luck in the college soccer recruiting process !
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Crosses and corner kicks are considered "high concentration" situations for a keeper and his/her defense. Obviously, the keeper must focus on the ball as the service is taken so that he/she can properly judge the flight of the ball to handle the situation.
What should a keeper do to help keep his/her defense organized and concentrating during these situations?
Preventing the cross by the defender ("No Service!"). ORGANIZE YOUR DEFENSE THROUGH COMMUNICATION!!!
Your defense should be man - marking when their opponent is within the 18 yard box; and following is the correct position for the defender:
When a crossing or corner kick situation occurs, the keeper should steal a quick look at his/her defense to observe any dangerous situations that may occur in marking. Then, as the keeper turns his/her focus to the ball, communication should begin loud and clear instructing the defense to stay goal-side, ball-side and touch your mark UNTIL the ball is either in the keeper’s hands or the ball is out of harms way. Too many times a defender will lose his/her mark after the ball has been touched by a player in the box but it has not been cleared out of danger.
Always keep reminding your defense to stay goal-side, ball-side and touch their mark and the possibility of needless goals may diminish.
Paul Blodgett Goalkeeper Training School, (NJ, Flemington) www.njgoalkeeperschool.com The PBGKTS goes well beyond training and drills, instead providing a full spectrum approach focused soley upon the goalkeeper position. Paul Blodgett Goalkeeper Training School offers camp and small group training environments, game analysis, as well as online resources. Contact Paul Blodgett at firstname.lastname@example.org
My philosophy is work smarter not harder.
How do you make your job as a keeper easier on as well as off the field? The answer is to communicate effectively. On the field the keeper is the most important person with the vision to see the offensive attack and most importantly on defense, the counter attack. A goalkeeper is like a chess player. With each strategic move of his players through communication he puts his team on the offensive or prepares defensively. By communicating effectively a keeper can improve defensive organization of the entire team and initiate the attack thus handling fewer shots and resulting in less goals.
The role of the keeper is that of a leader. A leaders voice and language must be firm, spoken with conviction, and specific; never wavering or panicky. A keeper that speaks softly sends a message that he or she is unsure or lacks confidence. A keeper that screams and yells with a panic stricken voice sends a message of weakness to the apposing team and sends chaos through the defending team.
Communication can be two forms: verbal and non verbal. Verbal communication should take the form of simple and very specific phrases. Anything more than three words is missed by the defenders. One word instructions are most effective. Non verbal is simply hand gestures. Non verbal could be in the form of a point to open player, a point to the location to drop a back pass, the number of players needed in a wall shown by fingers, or the wave of the hand to push players up when distributing the ball.
Keeper - Not keep. A cop doesn’t yell stop it is the Pol! It just isn’t effective enough. You need that second syllable. This the most important word in the keeper dictionary. It must be said with confidence and loud enough for the stands to hear you. This tells the team that the keeper is committed to the ball. This tells the attacker that the keeper is coming and he is in for it. The keeper call must be shouted prior to leaving the line. Again it is a warning and it will also tell the closest defender off the ball that they need to get back and cover the net.
Mark ?? - Who is Mark? Sometimes I hear keepers call his name once or multiple times in a panic: Mark Mark Mark. What does that tell a defender? Does it give a specific instruction or location? The who has so and so….. question also kills me. That doesn’t tell anything either. If calling you defenders name and a point to the open player doesn’t do the trick then assign the mark to a defender. Field players are classic for saying “he wasn’t my man” but he had to belong someone. Whether it is a middle fielder running down the wing, a stopper pushing up into the attack, or a set piece such as a corner the keeper has to dictate responsibility. The keeper should say with conviction “Jay, 10, left”; “Jim stay middle”; “Jeff front post”; “Jack back post”; “John, step, 8”.
Back - Is used to indicate that the keeper is an option. The proper instruction is "Keeper Back". The keeper should also point to the area outside the goal mouth were the ball should be played. Yelling back to a defender for a marking instruction creates confusion when it is also used in another manner.
Drop - I use drop when also communicating with my defenders. “ Ken drop” This would tell Ken that he is up too far. To be more specific give a distance. “Drop Left” “Drop 2 Steps”
Step Up - When trying to move your defense up instruct them how far. "Step 2" would indicate the defense would have to step up to steps or "Step to 18" would mean the defense line is at the top of the 18 yard box.
Out - Can also be used to catch the lazy striker off sides moving the defense quickly out is effective when the ball is cleared. Moving the defense quickly allows less space and time for the attacking team to organize anything substantial. This also helps eliminate a screen by a defender or a poor deflection into the net. Careful not to call out or push up too soon on corners! When the ball is cleared out of danger or there isn’t a one time shot threat then release your players off the post by calling out. "Step Out" is also common.
Wall - In direct or indirect situations the keeper must call “Wall” and the number of people in the wall. When positioning the wall, again short and sweet: “Two steps left”
Outside - Indicates to the defender with the ball to take the ball outside rather than turning it into a player or pressure. Outside communicates that there is no option inside.
There are terms and commands unique to each keeper. Make sure you use consistent terms when speaking to your team so there is not any confusion. The important thing is that the command is spoken with a firm confident voice, concise, specific, and understood. On the flip side, don’t over do it. Communicate effectively to organize the field but don’t talk so much that it becomes a ringing in the ears of the field players. Too much can be counter productive.
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Remember, One Stop Makes All The Difference!
All The Best, Christian