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Communication for Keepers

December 31, 2003 09:00 PM
The goalkeeper is perhaps the most specialized position on the field. Yet, in addition to understanding their positioning they must also have a good understanding and ability to play the game of soccer. The relationship between the goalkeeper and the defenders is a critical one. You absolutely be on the same page. Communication is the basis for this relationship to work. Goalkeepers need to be able to take charge and let their teammates know what is happening around them. Good communication prevents shots, and a team can't score if they don't take shots.

"Up until my second year on this team I didn't say a word," says Briana Scurry. "In college I didn't say anything. I think back now, and if I just spoke a little bit I could have prevented so many goals.

"That's the key to communication -- preventing a shot from even being taken. The key to getting your people into the right positions, kind of like chess. You thwart the other team's opportunities. If you can do that and never have to make a save you are better than anybody flying around into the corners left and right. If you can make it look like your mother can do it, you have done your job.

Some keepers are comfortable with being a vocal leader; others have to be forced into the role. Everyone, however, needs to work on it.

"It is something you develop," says Bri. "A lot of kids are shy. They are afraid of offending their teammates. I don't care. But when I first joined this team, I hardly said a word. Carla, came to me and said, 'Bri you gotta do what you've gotta do.' That was all I needed to hear. I started talking more, and now I say whatever to anybody.

"But how you say it is important," cautions Bri. "If I say it nicely one time and you don't hear me, I will have to say it another way the next time. My job is to keep the ball out of the net -- this is cut-throat here. If you don't do it right, I am going to have to raise my voice a little bit to get you to hear me. Sometimes you have to do that. Don't take it personally. It's part of the game."

Communication is an art-form, and it takes work. Remembering that there are different ways to talk to different people is helpful.

"Sure, it's difficult," says Bri. "You have to know how to talk to each different player. Some players, like Joy, would prefer me to yell at her, whereas another player might not. I need to tap into the psychology of each player and adjust accordingly. If I'm yelling at some player like I yell at Joy, they might shut me off. If you are doing your job properly, I will use a softer tone. But if you're not, then I gotta somehow spur you on a little bit because I'm not just going to be nice and let them come down your side very other attack just to spare your feelings."

Tracy Ducar has found that communication not only helps her teammates, it also keeps her alert and in the game, even when the action is at the other end of the field.

"Communication is my big thing," says Tracy. "I'm constantly checking in with my defenders -- 'watch number five on your left, step up, drop off.' That keeps me in the game. I also adjust my positioning, I move with the ball. Even if the ball is down at the other end, I'll move from side to side as the ball moves, just so I am always cued in to what's going on and not checking out the crowd or the bench or counting clouds."
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