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How To Call For a Ball in Soccer? 4 Effective Methods

How To Call For a Ball in Soccer? 4 Effective Methods

One of the attributes essential to being a successful soccer player is communicating effectively on the pitch. The best teams in the world have players who understand each other’s movement patterns and body signals. And these signals contribute to the success and all-around performance of the team.

For instance, one of these modes of communication involves calling for the ball. A player may see the need to do this when in a position of advantage.

Strikers and wingers who find themselves in a position that could create or directly lead to a goal-scoring opportunity use hand and vocal signals to call the attention of their mates. However, calling for the ball is not limited to the offensive phase of soccer.

As long as a player finds space to receive the ball on the soccer pitch, calling for the ball becomes an integral approach in the team’s gameplay.

This article explores various methods players use to effectively communicate with their mates to put their teams in advantageous positions. The listed methods are not exhaustive as teams have created their signal strategies.

How To Communicate Better In Soccer

How To Call for A Ball in Soccer?

As mentioned earlier, the two significant ways players call for the ball involve hand gestures and vocal calls. However, they may also choose to use a mixture of both methods. But, it depends on the demands of the in-game situation.

There are other methods which involve making subtle gestures with the head or any other part of the body. You will also find cases where players use a winking of the eye to call for the ball.

Advisably, it’s best to be discreet not to call the opposition’s attention in certain situations. In cases like this, it is advisable to use hand signals, while one could use vocal signals in urgent circumstances. These signals are listed below and thoroughly explained for clarity.

Method 1: Hand signals

Hand sinal in soccer

All signals that involve hands can be categorized as hand signals. They are used mainly in the offensive phase when the team intends to move the ball upfield.

For example, in situations where a goal-scoring opportunity could be created by the swift movement of the ball, the player in space can use hand signals. These methods of communication allow the team to also switch play from side to side if a side of the soccer pitch is congested.

The player on the free side of the pitch signals by raising hands, alerting the other player with the ball. All players use hand signals, but you will find attacking players using them the most.

Strikers and wingers use hand signals to take advantage of situations and put their teams ahead. In most cases, when the player with the ball gets the hint on time, you will find that a goal-scoring opportunity is created.

There are many hand signals, but two are prevalent and used the most of all types. For example, you will hardly find a soccer match without hand signals. These two types are under listed below:

Types of hand signals

  • Pointing the ball in the direction you want it played

The first type of hand signal involves the player in space pointing in the direction where he wants the ball. This may be in a counter-attacking move or when a set piece is about to be taken. These two scenarios are the significant instances where you will find this method in use.

Pacey wingers like to put opposition fullbacks in a situation where they have to chase the ball. These wingers find spaces along the byline area and point in the direction where they want the ball to be played.

If a midfielder or a defender spots this run on time and sends the ball in the player’s direction, a goal-scoring opportunity is automatically created. An example of a player who uses this method is German Leroy Sane.

He uses his speed to great advantage and, with acute precision, finds spaces to run into in the opposition’s half. Sane points the ball in the direction he wants it played to, and as the ball is lobbed or played through, he moves into dangerous positions that create scoring opportunities.

Strikers also use this method to spot spaces in the oppositions’ 18-yard box. Then, they call for the wingers or midfielders to put the ball in their chosen direction and score goals using headers or simple tap-ins.

Some strikers usually point in the direction of the near post when they can peel away from opposition defenders. An excellent example of a soccer team that uses this to great effect is Manchester City Football Club.

Their set plays involve pacey fullbacks and clever attackers who flood the opposition 18-yard box and score easy tap-ins.

  • Waving of hands

Soccer player call for the ball

Another method of calling for the ball using hand signals is waving hands. This method is not limited to the offensive phase alone but is also used in the defensive phase. It involves the player willing to receive the ball, signaling the player with the ball by waving hands.

It is also used when switching play during set pieces and creating goal-scoring opportunities is needed. At every point, the goal generally is to put the team in a position of advantage. Hence all players must stay mentally switched on during the game to spot these signals.

In the offensive phase, waving hands could be used during setpieces when the opposition fails to mark all the players in the box. For example, a free player could signal the set piece taker by waving hands.

An attacker could also call for the ball when unmarked in the opposition’s half. The midfielder, defender, or keeper spots the opening and sends the ball forward.

In the defensive phase, when a team intends to restart a passing phase or initiate gameplay, the defensive players may choose to call for the ball. In cases where it is more beneficial to retain the ball and wind down the clock, the defenders may also choose to use this method in calling for the ball.


  • Leads to the creation of goal-scoring opportunities.
  • Retaining the ball can help protect a lead when the team is ahead in a game.
  • Helps the team win ball distribution when spreading play.


  • Wrongful signals can cause disunity among team members.
  • Causes distraction of the player with the ball as there may be better options.

Method 2: Vocal Calls

Vocal sinal in soccer

Vocal calls are methods used to call for the ball, characterized by giving a loud audible shout. For example, during soccer matches, you will find coaches barking out instructions to players.

However, you may also find players calling on their mates when in an excellent position to receive the ball in certain instances. These calls vary as you move from team to team across the world. Nevertheless, a few well-known shouts are, to an extent, universal.

These shouts are used both in the offensive and defensive phase of play. They have been known to get teams out of the potentially dangerous situation and create goal-scoring chances.

Unlike hand signals, the model and language for communication in different parts of the world differ. This is why vocal calls are usually taught during training sessions, as teammates are allowed to study each other and understand their modes of communication.

Vocal calls are more effective when used alongside hand signals. However, it is advisable to understand the phase of play to discern the right approach accurately to take in a given situation.

Types of vocal calls

All vocal calls involve giving an audible shout for the ball; the phrase used differs. Some examples of vocal calls include:

  • Ball

In the course of the game, you may find yourself having to call for the ball when in space. This can be quickly done by yelling the word “ball” to a teammate. The shout calls the player’s attention with the ball, and a pass is made.

In the offensive phase, you can call for the ball when in a space that could be exploited to your team’s advantage. However, be mindful that it could also raise the awareness of the opposition team to your position.

In the defensive phase or during normal gameplay, it is used when the team manages the game and retains possession. In cases like this, the defender calls for the ball, and the attackers or midfielders have to pass the ball back as it is moved across the field to the frustration of the opposing team.

Soccer player trying to call for the ball

  • Line

Shouting the word “line” indicates that you want the ball passed to the byline. It is used when spaces open up on the byline, and there is an opportunity to run towards the ball and make a cross. Wingers and fullbacks usually use this shout, which helps create chances for the team.

It is utilized mainly in the offensive phase. However, depending on the tactics employed by a team, it can be used to great effect in a counter-offensive phase of play.

Also, when a team has the height advantage, wingers and fullbacks may often call for the ball to be passed to the sideline so crosses can be made into the box.

  • Leave/Dummy/Mine

Telling a teammate “leave” or “dummy” indicates that you want the ball left so it can roll into a favorable position. This shout is used when a receiver is about to bring the ball under control.

A player seeing a better opportunity may choose to yell any of these three words so the receiver can allow the ball to run through. It is usually used when a goal-scoring opportunity is spotted in the opposition’s half.

Many goals have been scored in the world of soccer due to the effective use of this vocal signal. In most cases, the player making the ball is in a better goal-scoring position than the original receiver.

Also, there are instances where the original receiver is in an offside position. As a result, teammates running towards the ball may yell “mine,” so the receiver leaves, and the opportunity is preserved.

  • To feet

Yelling “To feet,” tells a teammate you want the ball passed to your feet instead of being played into space. In most cases, this vocal signal is used when the willing receiver is close by and moving slowly. It can be used in any phase of play, be it offensive or defensive.

For example, Belgian Striker Romelu Lukaku loves to receive the ball with his back turned against the opposition goal. He uses his physical prowess to shield the ball, so he can make a pass or a quick turn to shoot at the goal.

On the other hand, when defending, a player can call for the ball to be played to feet if he sees the need to retain possession or to pass the ball back to the keeper to wind down the clock.

  • Switch

A call for a ball switch to either side of the field is usually done by yelling “switch” to the player with the ball. A player on the other side of the pitch is spotted, and the ball is crossed or passed subsequently.

This allows the team to expand play and reset a set-play if needed. When a pitch section gets crowded out by an opposition team using a high press, spaces usually open up on the other side of the field.

If you are a player on the other side, you can call for the ball and move rapidly into space, eating up the gap created by the opponent and using up the space to your team’s advantage.

  • Near Post/Back post

Calling for the ball to be played in the near post or back post area is usually done when a set piece is about to be taken. This informs the set piece taker to play the ball into the near post or the back post position, where an attacker can nod or maneuver the ball into a position of advantage.

When searching for a goal, some teams choose to use this method to catch the opposition unaware. The player who intends to attack the ball calls for it, alongside the appropriate hand signals indicating where the ball should be played.


  • Effective mode of communication; guaranteed to catch a team member’s attention.
  • Helpful in the creation of goal-scoring opportunities.
  • It helps the team in defensive phases.
  • Useful to warn team members of impending danger.


  • Attracts the unwanted attention of the opposition team.
  • It may be difficult for the player with the ball to hear a call in a noisy stadium.
  • Can confuse the player with the ball who sees a better option.

Method 3: Head and body gestures 

Professional players train almost every day. This gives them time to build team chemistry and individual relationships. Many of these relationships play out on the field of play as players learn signals and gestures that are known only by members of a particular clique.

Using a shaking of the head, tapping the chest, tapping the head, or even calling out code names for set-plays are different ways players use to call for the ball. All these gestures are understood by the player with the ball who responds accordingly by making a pass to where the receiver desires to have it.

In most cases, this type of signal is used in the offensive phase, when the team seeks to gain an advantage in the opponent’s 18-yard box or when it would be advantageous to make a quick break and run with the ball.

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  • It can be used to create goal-scoring opportunities
  • The opposing team is unaware and usually left dazed
  • Builds team chemistry


  • There are instances where the player with the ball gets mixed signals
  • It could distract the player with the ball from making a better pass
  • It depends solely on being seen by the passer.

Method 4: Winking of the Eye

How Haaland & Lewandowski Score Their Goals - Tactical Analysis

The winking of the eye is another subtle gesture aimed at telling the passer to move the ball in the direction of the receiver. The two players involved usually understand each other and the result should be one that would favor the team.

It is used to great effect when the intent is to surprise the opposition, who in most cases do not expect what is to come. Ok


  • Leads to goal scoring opportunities
  • It can be used to surprise the opposition


  • Often causes loss of possession when there are mixed signals
  • It depends on the passers’ recognition


Effective communication goes a long way in improving a team’s synergy and general performance. And learning these skills above will also help enhance individual gameplay and boost playing confidence.

These skills can be developed acceptably and uniquely for your team. So use them wisely and give your team an edge.