Goalies: Two Simple Words to Master your Position

Goalies have a tremendous advantage over the rest of the players on the soccer field: they can (legally) use their hands.

The best, most skilled goalies, however don’t just use their hands to deflect a ball around the post or collect a loose ball from a precarious position, they demonstratively use their voices to communicate with everyone on the field, including the opposition.

An effective goalkeeper should always be talking with his team, especially his defense or back line. In this lesson, I’d like to focus on 2 key phrases that every goalkeeper must master: Keeper and Away.


Let’s touch on K E E P E R first. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen a miscommunication between a sweeper and goalkeeper result in a goal for the opponent. Sadly, as a goalkeeper, I’ve participated in some of these gaffes, but not many.

Goalies are Ready
The other team can’t score when the ball is in the goalkeeper’s hands.

Shouting, and yes, I mean shouting, the word K E E P E R assures your teammates that you have them covered. The ball will soon be safely in your hands. Warning: If you say K E E P E R and

a) don’t make it to the ball in time

or b) flub the opportunity and concede a goal, you’ll have to work extra hard to make sure it never happens again.

Much of high-quality goalkeeping is confidence and owning the position, and sure, strong, assertive communication is a big factor.  

Youth goalies: I know what you are thinking. Shouting K E E P E R is downright embarrassing.

What will your girlfriend, boyfriend or parent think if you are screaming some word at the top of your lungs? Don’t fret – clear up their confusion after the game. Let your play, accelerated by strong communication, help them like and respect you even more.

Declaring the word K E E P E R loud enough to shake the heavens has two more amazingly important benefits:

  1. The other team knows you are coming. If you own the box, and win every loose ball after you shout K E E P E R, the other team will notice. As the game wears on, and your dominance spreads, the opposing forwards won’t challenge you for a 50/50 ball, knowing that a vocal, aggressive, feisty goalie is on the other side of the exchange.
  2. Your coach will love your leadership. When you sign up to play goalie, you are signing up to be a leader on the field. You may not wear the captain’s armband, yet your place on the field and your ability to speak authoritatively and decisively gives you an unrivaled vantage point to help your team.

Using the word K E E P E R appropriately keeps your opponent fearful and leaves your team bursting with confidence that the last line of defense is stout.


The second word to cover in today’s lesson is A W A Y. Let’s consider A W A Y to be the opposite of       K E E P E R. With the word K E E P E R, you are in charge. With the word A W A Y, your defense is in charge.

Let me be clear. After saying the word A W A Y, you, as keeper, aren’t on vacation, checking out of the action and coasting on easy street. You are still analyzing the situation, adjusting your position and actively communicating with your team. The A W A Y ‘command’ could turn into K E E P E R in a matter of seconds.

When you shout A W A Y, you are telling your defense a few things:

  1. It’s best you stay on your line and let the defense clear the ball from danger.
  2. You’ve quickly assessed the situation and believe you couldn’t get to a cross or loose ball in time to collect it.

Trust me: you will miscommunicate. This isn’t about perfection. There will be scenarios when you declare A W A Y and you should have shouted K E E P E R and vice versa. Game experience and repetition will sharpen this muscle, reducing these mistakes and improving your decision making.

A W A Y is not a passive activity. The game of soccer moves fast. You are one deflection or miskick away from having an attacker bearing down on you, 1 vs. 1. Stay ready!!

That’s it. K E E P E R and A W A Y. These aren’t the only words a goalie should master, but these are very important starters. Let your entire team – not just your defense – know what these words mean as you share them freely throughout games (and practices). Your teammates trust in you will skyrocket and you are a step closer to being a confident, complete goalkeeper.

Stay Goalie Ready,

Dan Naden

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