The importance of talking on the field is immeasurable. Communication, like in any area of life, helps make any type of relationship work. Whether that is a romantic relationship between a man and woman, a professional relationship between a boss and his employee, or an on-field relationship between teammates, communication can resolve almost anything.
All sports have captains and coaches that lead the team on and off the field. But what’s the role of the other players? Are they supposed to just listen, be quiet, and carry out the orders? Absolutely not.
Here are 4 ways everyone on the team should communicate and how it can help.
1. Call the name of the person you are passing to. This should be practiced at every training religiously. Now I’m sure you thinking why would I do that? There are a few reasons. What this does, firstly, is force you to have your head up. When your head is up, you see the field and you see your options. Players often focus on their feet and keep their eyes down that they cannot see developments on the field. Players are always moving and situations are always changing, if your head is not up to see all this, you will make a mistake or miss an optimal chance.
What this also does is create awareness on the field. What do you do, in your everyday life, if someone calls your name? -You immediately stop everything you are doing and turn your attention to the person. It is no different in soccer. Calling someone’s name before passing to them will get their undivided attention and force them to be ready for the pass.
2. Claim possession to the ball when it is coming to you. If the ball is coming directly to you, yell: “Steve’s ball!” This is something they teach you at a young age and with reasons. This will eliminate confusion between players. How often do we see players back off the ball or go for the same ball because there is a lack of communication? Claiming possession automatically makes the opponent second guess themselves. It forces others around you to subconsciously think “that’s his, not mine.” Consequently, players might back off just enough for you to have complete possession of the ball with little problems.
3. Be the eyes and ears for your teammates. Whether fortunately or unfortunately, the only place we have eyes in on the front of our heads. We cannot see everything around us – it just is not possible. Therefore, helping your teammate out with by telling them “man on” can save them from losing the ball or avoiding blind-side fouls. Another tactic is to yell your own name. The person with the ball will know where you are and will pass the ball in that direction or at least look in that direction. Even calls that are made such as “through ball”, “chip it” or “cross it” will tell the player with the ball all they need to know in order to make the right play. If I am a forward and I am making a run past a defender I yell “through ball.” The player with the ball will hear my voice, know what through ball means and more than likely make that pass. If, however, I make that run and I hope the player finds me, the likelihood of that pass happening is very low.
4. Communication does not just happen with the mouth; it can happen with eyes and body motions. For this method to be perfected or even just effective, it has to be practiced and rehearsed. Say you are a midfielder and you are approaching your forward with the ball. The forward is about to make a run either left or right, so instead of yelling out where they are going to go, they make a quick hand signal where the defender cannot see. This means of communication can set the forward free with a good pass without the defender even knowing what happened.
On corner kicks and free kicks, players will be too far away to yell something. So on a corner kick for example, the player can hold one hand up which means first post, two hands up which means second post, or even hold his hand on his head which means short pass to the box for a shot. Again, this method needs to be rehearsed in practice. If carried out correctly, you can create communication among the team and the other team will have no idea what is going on.
There can never be too much communication. The more you communicate the clearer any situation will be. Coaches and players, force yourselves to communicate at training and at games. It will eventually become a habit – a good habit.
How much emphasis is put on communication at your trainings and games?