One thing to remember is that the moment the ball gets to you everything becomes frantic. Your mind is racing to think of what to do of the many options, while your body is striving to achieve what you want it to. On top of that are concerns about where you are on the field and where everyone else is, teammates and opponents. It is quite stressful. In these situations, hearing several teammates shouting “here” or “pass” or “I’m open”, although better than keeping silent, becomes less helpful because the player with the ball may find it difficult to figure out where the calls are coming from. Effective and efficient communication both informs your teammates and helps clarify the choices available to them, but in order for the communication to be effective everyone has to agree to and understand the meaning of the things said, and in order for it to be efficient it must communicate as much information as possible in as few words as possible (paragraphs don’t work on the soccer field). So here’s a list of phrases that can be said in certain situations and when to use them.
“Back” – uttered by a player who is behind the player with the ball, and ready to receive the pass. A backheel can even be an option in these situations.
“Clear (it)” – Desperate times call for desperate measures, and sometimes the only safe choice is just to kick the ball away, either out of bounds or hard upfield.
“Keeper” – Uttered either
- by the goalkeeper to let his players know he will get it. It is important that the defender keep moving with the ball, putting himself between the ball and the opponent so the opposing player does not steal the ball before the keeper can get to it. Never give up on the play.
- or by a defender who wants his goalkeeper to get the ball. In this case it is important the goalkeeper agree to it. If the goalkeeper does not feel it is safe to do so, respect his decision and play the ball yourself.
“Man on” – Anytime your teammate has the ball, an opponent is approaching to challenge and he seems not to be aware of it is a good time to inform him of the danger.
“Square” – A call to pass the ball to the side.
“Switch (it)” – A call to send the ball far, from one side of the field to the other (from the left to the right, or vice-versa). Often times the ball can seem to ping-pong around between the teams along one sideline, as kids react to the ball by kicking it forward. As the ball moves back and forth on the side more players get drawn in and the ball hits people more and moving forward becomes difficult due to the congestion. This is a great time for players to suggest that their teammates switch the ball to the opposite side of the field, where the play is more open, to restart the attack.
“Turn (it)” – Usually called out to a player chasing a ball towards his goal, letting him know he needs to turn the ball around and back upfield on his own (or that he has time to do so), preferably towards the outside (sidelines), not the inside (middle of the field).
“Up the line” – A call to move the ball up the sideline into attack, either by dribbling or passing to a teammate.