Issue 3 - Goalkeeper Communication
Tuesday, 04 September 2001
by: Rob Walker
The high ball was floated, drifting towards the goal. The goalkeeper in the shocking tangerine green and lime yellow jersey came towards the ball. The plaintive shout of "keeeep" was barely audible to the coaches and parents on the sideline. The goalkeeper smothered the ball in and punted away. As the sound "keeeep" is one associated with a sound that most birds make, it might be helpful to explore the "what's, when's, where's and how's" of goalkeeping communication.
The table below might be helpful in helping goalkeepers and coaches sort through different scenarios that come up in the game and offer some ideas as to how a goalkeeper might be able to play a larger role in organizing and communicating in the team.
| Situation / Scenario || Key Considerations||What Should Be Said |
| The ball is in the other team's half || The goalkeeper should be in |
contact with the "last player
back" in his or her defensive
line. Goalkeepers should not
be match commentators or
cheerleaders. They should
simply stay as focused as
possible and make sure they
are in a good enough starting
position to deal with a ball played over the top of the back line
| "Push up tighter; have 'Johnny' watch their outside winger." |
| The ball is entering the final 35 yards of the goalkeeper's defending 3rd.|| The goalkeeper's starting |
position should be such that
a ball struck towards the cross bar can be attempted for-the goalkeeper shouldn't be able to be beaten because of bad positioning. The goalkeeper should take a series of quick looks at the defending behind and
away from the ball: is
everyone where they should be? Above all else, the goalkeeper should recognize the difference between
the situation where the
ball is about to shot or played into a dangerous position, versus just being kept by the attacking team. "Show 'em out, wide or left/ right.
Can you win it? Run
with # 7" Every team should
have their own strategy for
showing a player with the ball
towards the sideline or into the middle. Teams need to be
consistent with "what" they say.When the ball is played backwards, away from the goalkeeper's goal, it is imperative that the
back line "drive out" and reduce the amount of space a team has to play in. Common
terminology is: "push out" or
"step up." Using the geography of the defending 3rd is helpful in getting this "push" done correctly.
| "To the '18' , or to the arc, or to the spot," is helpful. |
| The ball is played towards the goal || A cross, high ball or through ball is the most common situation a goalkeeper has to deal with. The goalkeeper has decided to ither come part way to take up a new position or come all the way and win the ball. What is critical is |
that recovering defenders continue running back to goal (if cover is needed) or to pull forward to immediately begin the attack. The amount of space the keeper has to cover, and the relative chance of winning the ball outright are
the critical keys in this situation A simple "KEEPER" will always do the trick. The goalkeeper often begins
this shout when deciding to come off the line. It's important that a clear decisive decision is made when coming for the ball and is communicated ahead of time, not after-the fact.
| A simple "KEEPER" will always do the trick. The goalkeeper often begins this shout when deciding to come off the line. It's important that a clear decisive decision is made when coming for the ball and is communicated ahead of time, not after-the fact.|
These are the keys to what to say. Practice, coaching and plenty of match experience should give the goalkeeper the expertise as to "what to say and when to say it." The more young goalkeepers can get "KEEPER" out of their mouths, the better.
Rob Walker holds a US Soccer "A" license and is a national team's program staff coach. Rob has 20 years of goalkeeping expertise. He has written numerous articles and curricula on the position. He resides in Birmingham, Alabama and is the Director of Coaching for the Mountain Brook Soccer Club.