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Jeff Oleck

So, this week's Tech Tuesday topic is: Goalkeeper Communication.
What if I told you there was a way to limit shots and goals against without any physical preparation?  Would you be interested in that?
Of course!
The importance of goalkeeper communication is four-fold:
1) To prevent goals and shots
2) To increase confidence in yourself and in your team (encouragement)
3) To control the game tempo
4) To maintain team shape, offensively and defensively
I will often hear coaches, parents, and players say "we need to talk more on the field".  Yes, communication is crucial to being a successful goalkeeper.  However, do you know WHAT to say and WHEN to say it?
Goalkeepers are coaches, commanders, and leaders on the field.  It is in our job description.  It's a mandatory part of our role on the team.  There's no way around it, you MUST communicate to be a successful goalkeeper.
Let me give you some comparisons...if you want to be an accountant but you aren't comfortable with math - you can't be an accountant!  If you want to be a surgeon, but you get grossed out by blood - you can't be a surgeon!  If you want to be a pilot, but you're scared of heights - you can't be a pilot! 
If you want to be a goalkeeper but you don't communicate with your team, you can't be a goalkeeper at a high level!
Our job as goalkeepers is to understand the game and communicate the critical information to our team at the right moments.  
This means we have to:
  • Assert ourselves.  This is not optional.  This is our job.
  • EVERY TIME we exit our goal, whether for a ball in the air or on the ground, we MUST make a "Keeper" call.  
  • EVERY TIME the ball is served in our box and we're notgoing for it, either in the air or on the ground, WE MUST make an "Away" call.  
  • Understand our team's game plan.  Do we want to high pressure or sit deeper defensively?  Do we want to force opponents central or wide on the field?  Do we want to man mark or zone on corner kicks?  Are we up a goal or down a goal - and how does that affect our game plan?
  • Have tactical intelligence.  Do we play a 4-3-3 formation - what are the strengths/weaknesses of that system?  Is there a special player on the opposition - how do we shut him/her down?  Which is the dominant foot of the opponent's center forward?
  • Prioritize.  The player on the ball is the most dangerous, how do we organize to prevent that player from breaking down our team/scoring?  Are we worried about the player on the back post - should we be?  Are we marked up properly?
Communication must be:
Clear - audible and assertive ("Keeper!")
Concise - short, sweet, and to the point ("Step up to the edge of the box!")
Direct - specific to the player ("Kyle, stay with #10 on the back post!")
Watch this video of Zac MacMath (currently with Colorado Rapids)
Or, watch this video of John McCarthy (currently with Philadelphia Union)
Notice the difference in tone, urgency, and commands that they use.  Sometimes they are screaming, sometimes they are encouraging, sometimes they need to be cool, calm, and collected.  Their language is Clear, Concise, and Direct.
Do you want to prevent shots and limit goals by doing nothing but talking?  If so, show your teammates and coaches this weekend that you are ready to take command and be the boss!
Have a great week - I'll check in with you all next Tuesday,
Coach O.