Oral communication among players during a game is critical to successful soccer. This is true in all phases of the game and can take many forms. Under any circumstance, the short words or phrases that are used must be recognized and their meanings understood, along with the actions to be taken, by every player on the team. The words and phrases below, and their associated definitions, are all used within specific game contexts. Sometimes it is the player with the ball who will speak. Most often, however, it is a player without the ball who will be speaking. This is because it is the players without the ball who have the better view of all of the action taking place on the field. This is especially true for the players who are behind the ball, because they have the best view of all. As a result, they are the players who are in the best position to direct the flow of play using oral communications.
Away — Goalkeeper is telling the defensive teammate to kick or head the ball out from goal.
Again – Repeat a shot, run, or pass.
Back — There is a teammate open for a back pass.
Back and left – Player who is open and available for a backpass is telling his teammate where his is located.
Back and right – Player who is open and available for a backpass is telling his where his is located.
Ball — Player is announcing to his teammate that the ball is nearby or coming immediately and the teammate does not appear to be aware of it.
Be there – Encouragement for a teammate to get to a ball or spot on the field.
Behind you – Usually that a trailing teammate is open; sometimes that a defender is arriving.
Carry — Take the ball (dribble) upfield; i.e., individually attack open space.
Center — Send the ball in the air or on the ground to the middle of the field.
Challenge — As a supporting defender, this tells a teammate that support in defense has arrived and that a solid attempt to take the ball away may be made. This generally comes shortly after a “Jockey” or ”Contain” call.
Check — You will likely be a passing option if you move away from your current location (usually toward your teammate with the ball), draw your defender, and then return to the spot you left.
Chip — Pass the ball over a defender or shoot the ball over the goalkeeper with a chip instep kick.
Clear — Get the ball out of danger, away from the goal, immediately. (Tells the defender to kick the ball as far upfield, toward the sideline, and out of bounds if necessary.)
Come back — When a defender sees a situation where there are too many teammates who have moved forward to cover potential attackers should the ball change teams, this tells defensive teammates that they must return to mark opponents or cover space.
Contain — As a supporting defender, this tells a teammate to defend a dribbling opponent by standing ground and confining the opponent to a small space. By not tackling and attempting to take the ball, thereby avoiding the possibility of being beaten, this buys time so the defense can return, reorganize, balance and cover.
Corner — Pass the ball in the direction of the offensive near corner of the field, usually directed toward the corner flag.
Cross — Send the ball in the air to the center, to the opposite field, or to the opposite outer corner of the penalty area.
Cut it off – Tells a teammate to intercept an opponent’s pass (because he has coverage).
Down the line — Kick the ball upfield parallel to the sideline.
Drop, or, Drop It — There is a teammate open for a back pass.
Dummy — Do not touch the ball. Run over it or near it to create a distraction and let it continue on its path to a following teammate nearby, ready to receive/shoot the ball.
Eighteen — Send the ball to the outer line (top) of the penalty area. Generally, this is a specific target location for a cross.
Far post — Pass or shoot the ball to the part of the goal farthest from you.
Follow — A reminder that attackers must continue to follow-up shots on goal in order to play rebounds or loose balls. This includes the original shooter.
Get back — When the defense is in desperate need of help, this tells teammates to return and play defense immediately.
Get there – Encouragement to get to the open spot on the field where the ball is arriving; encouragement to win a 50/50 ball.
Give it — Player is telling a teammate with the ball to go ahead and pass it to the open teammate that he sees.
Goal side — This is a defensive reminder to position your body between the ball and the goal or between an opponent and the goal. (Recognize that there may be occasions where you may think you are properly aligned but are not and this lets you know.)
Goalie’s out — Informs a teammate with the ball that the opposing goalkeeper has moved so far away from his goal that a chipped shot could be sent over the goalkeeper’s head and under the crossbar.
Got me – I’m open for a pass.
Help back, or, You have help back — There is a teammate open for a back pass.
Help straight back, or, Help back and right, or Help back and left — There is a teammate open for a back pass in a specific direction.
Here — You are open and calling for the ball. (Generally a short-pass option to a specific spot. The teammate with the ball likely has an imminent challenge and needs to get rid of the ball quickly.)
Here’s your help — You are open and available for a pass. (Generally a short-pass option to a specific spot. Lets the teammate with the ball know that you are a passing option.)
Hold; hold at the 18 – Keeper or defensive organizer asks defender(s) to stop backpedaling and stand their ground at the top of the penalty area.
Hold him/them there – Keeper or defensive organizer asks defender(s) to stop backpedaling and stand their ground.
I’m back – Usually, you have help behind you for a back pass; sometimes, returning to a position after a switch or overlapping run.
I’ve got (#) — Tells teammates who you are marking. This is used to assist in organizing the defense.
I’ve got two — When a defender finds they are marking two players, this tells teammates that someone needs to come back and cover the opponent farthest from the goal of the two.
I’ve got your spot — Tells a player that their position is covered if a natural switch has occurred (one during the normal course of play which was not announced with a call of “switch”). Generally, this call is made after a player goes forward and the teammate is telling them that they have the position covered until the player gets back.
Jockey — As a supporting defender, this tells a teammate to defend a dribbling opponent by slowly giving ground. By not tackling and attempting to take the ball, thereby avoiding the possibility of being beaten, this buys time so the defense can return, reorganize, balance and cover.
Keep (short for Keeper) – Goalkeeper is going to get the ball, leave the ball alone.
Keep playing – The Referee did not blow the whistle, play on.
Keeper — Used by the goalkeeper only, the goalkeeper is calling all defenders off in order to get the ball (or otherwise wants the ball).
Keeper’s out — Informs a teammate with the ball that the opposing goalkeeper has moved so far away from his goal that a chipped shot could be sent over the goalkeeper’s head and under the crossbar.
Leave (it) — Calls a teammate off the ball, letting him know that you will take it and avoid a collision.
Leave (Dummy) — Do not touch the ball. Run over it or near it to create a distraction and let it continue on its path to a following teammate nearby, ready to receive/shoot the ball.
Left-footed — Take a shot or make a quick pass immediately with the stated foot because an opponent is on you and you don’t have time to make a move or set up the other foot.
Let it ride — Let the ball roll over the end-line or side-line. This is used to let you know that your team will have possession of the ball after it goes out of play.
Let it roll (same as Let it Ride) – Allow the ball to go over the line.
Line — Kick the ball upfield on a diagonal toward the sideline.
Long (1) — Pass the ball far upfield to a teammate who is making a run.
Long (2) — Goalkeeper is telling defenders not to touch a ball because it is going to go out the endline.
Look left — A teammate from behind is telling the ball handler that there is an open teammate available for a pass on the left.
Look right — A teammate from behind is telling the ball handler that there is an open teammate available for a pass on the right.
Make a run – Tells a teammate that he need to join the attack (and appears to be standing around).
Man (short for Man On) – A defender is arriving.
Man-on — An opponent who is probably outside your field of vision is about to challenge you for the ball.
Mark (#) — When the defense is organizing, the defensive leader may assign who is responsible for each attacker, especially if the defense has broken down. This tells a defender to stay with a particular attacker until directed otherwise.
Move, Move Up, or, Move Out — Goalkeeper or central back is telling the defenders to move upfield.
My feet — Goalkeeper is telling a back Additional defender to pass the ball back to him on the ground to his feet.
(Name) off your (right/left) shoulder — Goalkeeper is informing a back defender of the presence of an opponent of whom the defender may not be aware.
(Name) take (#) — The person organizing the defense tells a teammate which opponent to mark.
(Name)’s ball — Used in a situation where two teammates are both likely going for an un- possessed ball, you are calling the other teammate off. (There must be no hesitation on the part of the caller and the other teammate is obligated to back off.)
Near post – Pass or shoot the ball to the part of the goal nearest you.
No let down – Reminds teammates that the intensity level must be maintained after a goal is scored, either for or against.
No shot – Keeper asks defender to tackle the opponent with the ball in order to keep him from shooting.
No turn - Asks the defending teammate to challenge the opponent with the ball, who is facing away from the goal, in such a way as to let the opponent turn and face the goal.
No whistle – The Referee did not blow the whistle, play on, keep playing.
Nothing over – Don’t allow the opponent to make a chip or create a bounce of the ball that would go over a defender’s head.
Numbers – A player is telling his teammates to move forward into the attack, or to “build numbers.”
On your back — An opponent is coming up fast from behind to challenge you for the ball.
One-Two — Teammate is asking to perform a give-and-go passing combination.
Open; or, I’m Open; or, (Name) is Open – You are open or a teammate is open and available for a pass. (Generally a mid-range or long-pass option into space.)
Open Up – Move wide, create space, run to open space.
Over — Called by the goalkeeper when the ball is going to go over the top of the goal. Do not attempt to play the ball.
Overlap — Make an overlapping run. Tells a defender or midfielder that the situation is acceptable for them to go beyond the midfielder or attacker, respectively, in front of them without a switch.
Play, Play On - Do not hesitate, keep playing because the referee is not going to blow his whistle or call a foul.
Play Simple — Tells a teammate to make the easy pass that is available.
Post, or, Post up — Attacker to run toward teammate coming upfield with the ball, stopping before the passing distance between the two becomes too short. Ball may be received and then passed back or flicked and turned.
Pressure (1) — Defensive end: stop giving ground, back-pedaling, or jockeying because you either have support or you are too close to the goal and must force the opponent to stop or make a move.
Pressure (2) – Offensive end: go at a back defender who has the ball in order to try to force an error.
Pressure (3) – Man on; you are under pressure.
Recover – Get back on defense.
Ref, 10 yards, please — Player respectfully asks the Referee to move back a defender or all of the defenders in a wall so that they are at least 10yards away from the ball prior to a free kick.
Right-footed — Take a shot or make a quick pass immediately with the stated foot because an opponent is on you and you don’t have time to make a move or set up the other foot.
Run, or, Make a run — Generally this means you are standing and need to move promptly into open space in order to receive a pass or to open up space for the attack.
Run at him – Goalkeeper, defensive organizer, or defensive support player is telling a defender to go directly at the opponent with the ball in order to force the action, hopefully creating an error, dispossession, or a successful tackle.
Send it — Send the ball upfield. Kick the ball out of the defense into the attack. (Generally this is used to tell a defender that there is immediate danger OR that there is a fast-break opportunity.)
Settle – There is time to control the ball, look up, and figure out what to do with it. (Similar to “time.”)
Settle down – Players are to stop getting overly excited and making mistakes.
Shape — Goalkeeper or back defensive organizer is telling his defenders that they are out of their zones and must return.
Shot — Shoot the ball on goal immediately. Don’t hesitate; take one set-up touch at most.
Show — You will likely be a passing option if you move left or right from being on a direct line with a defender between you and your teammate with the ball.
Sides, or, (name) ‘sides — Offensive player is telling a teammate that he is unknowingly in, or going into, an offside position.
Simple — Tells a teammate to make the easy pass that is available.
Slide — Goalkeeper is telling his back defenders in a zone defense to shift left or right.
Square — You are open directly to the left or directly to the right of the ball-handler.
Stay with him (her) — As a supporting defender, this tells a teammate who, during the flow of play, has taken on an opponent that may be making a crossing run or offensive switch to continue to defend that opponent.
Step, Step Up, or, Step Out — Goalkeeper or central back is telling the defenders to move upfield.
Straight back – Player who is open and available for a backpass is telling his teammate where his is located.
Support, or, You have support — Tells defensive teammate that you are in a proper defensive position that if an unsuccessful challenge for ball is made, you have it covered.
Swing, or, Swing the ball — Defenders are open in the back to use two or more passes to get the ball from one side of the field to the other.
Switch — Tells a player to assume their position. There are generally two types of switches, offensive and defensive. The offensive type usually starts with a player dribbling at a teammate and the teammate moves into that player’s position. The defensive type is usually made by a player that moves to cover an opponent expected to be covered by another teammate and the teammate now needs help to cover the space vacated.
Switch back — This is the formal acknowledgement that a switch which has occurred is being undone and the players are resuming their normal positions.
Switch fields — Kick the ball from one side of the field to the other or get it there via a mid-field player.
Take him (her) — When the defense is organizing, the defensive leader may assign who is responsible for an attacker. In comparison to “Mark #,” this is generally associated with the closest attacker, often coming with the ball.
Take him on – Goalkeeper, defensive organizer, or defensive support player is telling a defender to stop backpedalling/jockeying/controlling and to go ahead and tackle the opponent with the ball.
Take it – Shoot.
Talk – Players have stopped using proper oral communications and must do so.
(Teammate’s name) – To get teammate’s attention for a pass or to recognize a situation.
Through — Pass the ball from the midfield between defenders into the open space behind the defenders so an attacker can run onto the ball.
Time, or, You’ve got time — There is no immediate pressure from nearby, especially from behind, and you have the time you need to trap or collect the ball and then look up to see your options.
Trailing — Tells a teammate that he has a backpass option.
Turn – As you receive the ball facing away from the attacking goal, it is safe to turn the ball upfield without an immediate challenge from an opponent.
Use him – Pass the ball to the open teammate you see.
Wall, (number) — Goalkeeper identifies that he wants a wall built and how many defender he wants in it.
Watch your ‘sides — Offensive player is telling a teammate that he is unknowingly in, or going into, an offside position.
Watch wide – Keeper or defensive organizer tells a defender that there is an opponent between him and the nearest sideline.
What you see — There is no pressure from your back or sides and what you see in front of you as a dribbler is all you have to be concerned about for the time being.
Wide — Play the ball out toward the sideline.
Win it — Encouragement to get a 50/50 ball.
Yes – Go ahead and pass the ball to the open teammate.
You got it – On offense, when two teammates could equally go for a ball, tells the teammate that the ball is theirs.
Your help is back and left – A player is telling his teammate the location of a backpass option.
Your help is back and right – A player is telling his teammate the location of a backpass option.
Your help is straight back – A player is telling his teammate the location of a backpass option.
Yours — You are telling your teammate that THEY must play the ball. (This is NOT a very good call and should only be used in case of injury or odd circumstance.)
You’ve got a drop – There’s a teammate behind you who is available and open for a backpass.
You’ve got me back – I’m available and open for a backpass.
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