uhlsport USA
"Outstanding keeper instruction. This is a must for goalkeepers and coaches."
—Ottawa Internationals S.C. web site, Ottawa, Canada

Goalkeeping Tips, Tidbits and Random Thoughts

An athlete talking to themsleves during competition is hardly a new phenomenon.... The talk does not have to be vocal. By merely thinking you are talking to yourself and sending a message.
   -- Tony DiCicco, Goalkeeper Soccer Training Manual

If you have a question, comment or rebuttal you'd like to see addressed here, send me email. I will post your mail to the blog at my discretion unless you specify otherwise.

Magic gloves

There's a thread over on BigSoccer where someone asks, How do you make playing keeper cool????. Actually, with the younger set, it's not that hard... they all love to dive and roll and tumble. But I liked Roush's answer best:

"Magic Gloves..."

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Individualized warm-ups

A goalkeeper's warmup is very important. But every goalkeeper's warmup needs are different, especially once you move to higher levels. I had an entry a while back on warming up a goalkeeper, but by the time a keeper is high-school age (U15 and up) they probably already have an idea of what they personally want in their warmup. As a coach, you need to ask your keeper what they require, and as a keeper, tell your coach!

I ran across this with my new school team this year. One of my goalkeepers plays much better with a hard, focused warmup and lots of shots. But I didn't know this, and let him kind of go easy warming up with the other keepers while I focused on the rest of the team. As a result, he had felt unprepared for the games he played in. (It didn't help any that we are a struggling team and he was seeing heavy game action.)

I only found out from an overheard comment about the situation. Had I known earlier, we could have implemented a more rigorous warm-up. So last game I focused on warming him up in goal and let the captains run the team warmup. The result? He made probably his best save of the season to help us to a 1-1 draw.

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Team trains the keeper

Today at practice we ran a drill sometimes called Team Trains the Keeper. It's very fast paced, and shows the importance of a goalkeeper staying focused on one thing at a time. It's essentially 3v2+K in the penalty area, with shots and crosses coming in every few secondsólots of action in a short period of time.

My goalkeeper (and field players too, for that matter) would get so hung up about a great (or not-so-great) play on the previous ball, and fail to get into position and ready for the next ball and either make a mistake or get lucky the attackers didn't score. Add confusion about where the next ball was coming from, and you saw lots of plays the goalkeeper was completely unprepared for.

The dynamic reaction exercises in my Reaction Training session can be used to help a goalkeeper with this. The goalkeeper needs to focus on one thing at a time: find the next ball, get into proper position quickly with good footwork, focus on the ball and the save or other play that needs to be made, make the save or the ball goes out of play, then forget that ball and find the next one. Break it down into its component parts. For example, it's almost always better, after a rebound, to get fully to your feet first, then track down the ball. It is very difficult to corral a moving or bouncing ball from your knees or rear end; you stand a much better chance of safely covering the ball if you are on your feet very quickly and mobile.

This type of focus is critical to goalkeeping and has to be practiced.


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