How to Better Communicate on the Soccer Field

There is (or should be) a lot of communication going on during the course of a game. Throughout a game you will hear calls such as "man on", "back", "through", "clear" or other similar shouts.

The thing to remember when you hear a call such as these is that it means NOW.

Too often, a player has the ball and is under pressure so a teammate behind her might call "back". This means she is providing an option of a back pass and this pass is now available. In the diagram below, the yellow player is under pressure, hears "back" and makes the simple back pass.



The thing that is important to keep in mind is when the call of "back" is made, it means the pass is available right then. If the player on the ball takes a few touches, she must understand that the delay might result in the situation changing.



All players must understand the immediacy of the calls on the field.

If you have the ball and hear "back" it does not mean you have to pass the ball back.

However, it does mean if you choose not to make the pass right away, you can NOT assume it will be available in five seconds.

This is true on all calls ("man on" means she is coming on RIGHT NOW etc) and it's important all players are on the same page in understanding that now means NOW.


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Paul Harbin is the director of harbinsoccer.com and creator of paulharbin.com. Following the 2010 season, Harbin retired from the college ranks where he coached at the NCAA Division I level (UAB and Mercer University) for 22 years; 18 as a Head Coach. Across his career, Harbin's teams have been known nationally for their skill, talent, and success on the field. As importantly, they've also been known for their many successes off the field, in the classroom and throughout their community. He has been directing successful residential, team and day camps for over 20 years and continues to do so today. As with his teams, the main goal of camp is to help develop confident and responsible young people in an environment that that is both challenging and enjoyable.

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