One of the most common questions we get from coaches and parents looking for goalkeeping advice is how to get the goalkeeper to talk more.

One of the key elements in understanding this question is knowing the age of the goalkeeper we are talking about. To communicate at top/pro or elite level requires much in depth understanding of the game tactics as well as personal game experience. It is unreasonable to expect youth goalkeepers to communicate at these levels as they do not have the game experience, game tactics understanding or maturity to communicate like an elite goalkeeper.

The truth is that the majority of goalkeepers under the age of U12 are still trying to figure out where they should be standing and what they should be doing. Forget about them knowing or trying to figure out what the players around them should be doing.

This is why we should set realistic standards for goalkeepers at the different ages and developmental stages relative to what we expect from them in terms of their communication. This allows the goalkeepers to develop and communicate things that are realistic and easy to understand for the goalkeeper at their age level. This also allows them to develop the habits and communication confidence they will need, as they grow older.

No matter what the goalkeeper age is, we should insist that the keeper’s communication is direct, concise, accurate and constant. At the youth levels this may be as simple as calling out “keeper” early enough so that the defenders have time to react accordingly. At the older levels putting a name before the information is a great way to have the field players know who the keeper is talking about. Also finding ways to say things in the simplest way possible so that the goalkeeper’s teammates can process the information quickly and use it appropriately is a great value to not just the team but also helping the goalkeeper make easier faster decisions.

Do not forget that as the goalkeeper develops, the introduction of communication makes the goalkeeper part of the team rather than just the lone man back who keeps the ball out of the net. The coach should constantly encourage the goalkeeper to always stay connected with the players in front of him through both his positioning on the field and his communication. Keep the communication simple:

“Keeper” Letting teammates know keeper is coming for the ball.

“Away” Telling teammates the ball needs to be cleared.

“Push Up” Letting teammates know to push forward.

“Man On” Letting teammates know they are under pressure

“Turn” Letting teammates when they have time to turn.

If a goalkeeper is constantly encourage to communicate these simple things by the time he/she enters the older Youth Levels he/she will be well on his/her way to be a successful goalkeeper communicator.