"Man on!" "Drop back!" "Time!" "Turn!" "Through!" "Keeper!"
These are just a few examples of the types of communication you'll often hear in a soccer match. In a free-flowing game that constantly changes with every action, effective communication can be the difference between turning a possession into a goal scored or a goal conceded. Effective communication in the game of soccer provides teammates with valuable information for making optimal decisions on and off the ball.
Communication isn't only limited to verbal commands – body language, gestures and movement can be just as effective for communicating on the field. Gesturing to a space where you want the ball, pointing out an attacker that needs to be marked, or making deliberate runs off the ball, are all ways to effectively communicate your intentions to teammates. The more you communicate to your teammates, the more information they'll have in the moment. With more information, players are better apt to make split-second decisions with desirable outcomes.
Studies have shown that effective communication is best when simple and direct. "Man on," "Turn," or "Keeper" are just a few examples of quick, concise forms of communication that relay accurate information to teammates. "Man on!" will result in a one-time pass back, "Turn!" lets a teammate know that they have space to carry the ball up-field, and "Keeper!" indicates the intention of the goalkeeper to collect the ball and relieve pressure on defenders.
The best teams in the world are successful because they understand the importance of communication. They make a conscious effort to provide each other with helpful information at all times, whether directly involved in the play or not. In the end, communication builds trust between players, and fosters the kind of on-field chemistry that allows the team to operate as a cohesive unit. The best way to build that trust is to constantly practice effective communication in trainings, scrimmages, matches, and off-field interactions.
Images courtesy of The Nike Academy.