Communication is Key!

Having spent some time watching games this past weekend, one of the biggest things that stood out to me is the lack of effective communication from goalkeepers. Some of the keepers appeared to be trying the ‘Silent Communication‘ approach. There is a time and a place for that, but the football pitch is not that place!!

Goalkeepers need to be able to effectively communicate with teammates throughout the game to help direct, assist and inform them of situations that they may not be able to see.

Some of the biggest reasons for keepers not talking are: not knowing what to say and when to say it, not wanting so say the wrong thing and get caught out, or being undecided on what to say and by the time they make their decision, the situation has passed.

Communication shouldn’t be so difficult and it can be learnt and mastered quickly; provided the keeper wants to learn. The easiest way to explain effective goalkeeper communication is to “SAY WHAT YOU SEE!” Goalkeepers can see the WHOLE FIELD and can be the ‘Eyes in the back of the head’ of defenders to alert them of possible situations they cannot see.


It is ok to be ‘Captain Obvious’ when communicating with defenders. If your Left Back Defender ‘Billy’ has a player to the left, Communicate “Billy, Player Left”, or “Billy, Watch Left”. If you want your Center Back “Dylan” to not dive into a tackle and hold the player up, Communicate “Dylan, Stand up. Dylan, No Foul”. Pretty obvious, but effective communication nonetheless.

If you want your defenders to know you are available for a pass back when they have their focus on the attacking player chasing them down, communicate with “Keeper’s here,” or “Keeper’s open.” Let them know you are there to help. The more the hear that, the more inclined that will be to use you as an effective outlet.

In situations where the keeper needs to come out to claim a ball, be Confident, Communicate Early (Before you leave the ground, or move to the ball) and be Clear with the call. Don’t wait until the last second to call keepers. If you do wait, you will need to get used to dropping the ball, or picking yourself up off the ground. The earlier the better in situations like this to alert not only your own defenders that you are coming, but also the opposition. If they decide to stand in your way, they can suffer the consequences. Focus on the ball, communicate well and claim it!

If you are not 100% certain that you will get the ball, stay ‘Home’ and protect the goal. I’d rather see a keeper stay ‘Home’ than come out and completely miss time the jump, or miss ball and end up out of position with the ball in the net. If you want the ball, call “Keepers”, if you don’t, Call “Away” it can’t really get any simpler.

When you communicate, make sure you are Clear, Concise and Audible. Don’t try to say too much, because by the time you said your speech the situation could have passed and it will be time to communicate something different.

Communicating is another way to stay engaged in the game and forget about in game nerves. As you are spending the game talking to your teammates, you have less time think about being nervous and can play with more confidence. As I said, learning effective communication really is as simple as SAY WHAT YOU SEE and be confident in your communication and convictions.

Let people know you are a keeper who not only has excellent technique, but also is a great communicator. Don’t be shy, BE PROUD AND BE LOUD!!

Credit: Simon Robinson (J4K Coach)