The Importance of Communication in Soccer

You’ve probably heard the phrase “Silence is Golden.” That’s not the case when teammates are trying to work together during a soccer game. Go to a high-level match and you’ll notice a lot of chatter among players. The pros know effective communication in soccer is crucial.

But what do we mean by effective communication? There are many types of communication in soccer that can provide useful. These include:

  • Defensive tactical instructions — helping teammates gauge what is going on in the defending third of the field

  • Attacking tactical instructions — advice among teammates on how best to take advantage of possession of the ball

  • Warnings and advice — such as calling for the ball or telling indicating a need to push up, cover a player, or switch fields

  • Encouragement and support — recognizing fellow players for their effort, if they succeed or need to shake off a mistake

Each of these can types of communication can help a team pull together on the pitch. Shouting on “man on” or “you’ve got time” or “I’ve got ball” or “Gio’s ball” can all go a long way to helping everyone navigate the field.

Those who communicate effectively with their teammates can take more of a leadership role in the team. That guy who consistently recognizes his teammate’s strong challenges, solid headers, crisp passes, and scoring opportunities can help others to motivate. 

Jayden Delgado, a 2009 Queen City Mutiny player, says that a simple “It’s OK,” helps recognize that the other person is “actually trying.” When something goes wrong, the words of support can help that teammate “make it better.”

Pertinent Player Communication in Soccer 

Delgado also talked about the importance of letting fellow players know where you are on the field and where they might pass. That’s another way to show support.

Asking for the ball when you’re in a good position can also lead to a great play. Of course, you don’t want to holler at your teammates non-stop and try to force yourself into the game. Yet, calling for the ball demonstrates you want the ball and are ready to receive it.

Communication in soccer isn’t exclusively verbal:

  • You let your teammates know your intentions with the way you position your body

  • The angle that you take in relation to the ball speaks volumes

  • You can gesture to show someone where you want the ball

  • You might point to an attacker who needs coverage

So, you don’t necessarily have to become the team blabbermouth to succeed. Still, there are certain simple messages that every player can communicate to take a more active role in the team. Get in the habit of helping your teammates with the likes of:

  • “Turn”

  • “Shoot”

  • “Man on”

  • “Get it out”

  • “Switch”

  • “Shield it”

  • “Hold the ball”

  • “Clear it”

  • “Win it”

  • “Drop back”

Goaltenders and the last defender are called upon more often to communicate with the rest of players. They have a better view of the entire field and can effectively gauge the need to push up or pressure the ball.

Don’t Underestimate Communication in Soccer

Soccer is quickly paced and players need to make choices under pressure. The communication in soccer helps everyone keep up with the quickly changing free-flowing nature of the game. Just one word or three can share enough information to guide a teammate to make a better decision.

Note that we’re emphasizing short but direct communication. Say too much and your message will get lost on the pitch. Players under pressure from an opponent can’t listen to and process you saying something like, “Hey, Liam, the guy with the green bandana is coming at you from the left so watch your back.” The bandana-ed guy probably had the ball off of Liam before you even finished your thought! 

Studies show soccer communication is best when kept simple. Aim for concise statements that quickly relay accurate information to teammates. Try it first in practice. Practice it often. Then get out there on the field and see how team cohesion is helped by effective communication among players.