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.

You don't have to be big to play big

I got a recent email from a newly appointed keeper who was worried that "size matters". I have address this before, and yes, it does make a difference. But even vertically challenged keepers can be successful. My correspondent writes: "I only stand a bout 5'10 175lbs. The only thing I am worried about is my size the goal just seems so big. The original keeper was 6'3 and I nowhere near have his wingspan."

My response:

Actually, although taller goalkeepers are the rule, there are many your size who make it to the top level. Jon Busch of Columbus or Nick Rimando of DC United in MLS come to mind immediately, and Jorge Campos who played internationally for Mexico was
probably only 5'9" on a good day!

As a vertically-challenged keeper myself, you don't have to be big to play big. A few parts of your game to focus on:

  1. Work on being aggressive coming off your line to challenge shooters inside the 18. This might sound backwards at first. But if you don't fill the goal frame already, you need to "play big" by coming out and closing the angle the shooter has. If you come out quickly, you will be able to fill the attacker's field of vision and make the save or force a bad shot.

  2. Work on proper footwork for going back on high balls. See the "Punch and Parry" page on my site for more details. With good footwork, you can play off your line a bit more and still not get beat over the top. Yes, you will miss some a taller keeper could parry, and have to parry some a taller keeper would catch. That's just a fact of life. But just because you're shorter doesn't mean you can't get to those high balls with good technique. Practice, practice, practice.

  3. Be aggressive on crosses in training and try to carry it over to the game. With your hands in the air you are still "taller" than every other field player (until Yao Ming takes up soccer). One good, aggressive claim for a cross, and you will find attackers giving you more space. If you stretch your limits in practice it will help you in game situations.

  4. Use your voice to be "bigger". Loud calls for the ball not only communicate to your defense, but to the other team as well. And by loud, I mean play should stop on the next field over when you call for the ball! Using your voice is part of staking your territory.

To repeat, "You don't have to be big to play big." It is a mental mindset as much as anything.


The hero at the other end of the pitch

Ricardo did it for Portugal in Euro 2004. Now another goalkeeper, Schalke 04's Frank Rost, both saved penalties and scored the game winner in a German Cup semi-final shootout. It's not often a keeper gets to be the hero for scoring as well as making saves.


If the glove fits...

A brief description of the main glove cuts and their fit:

Flat cut. This is the most common. The latex palm is, well, flat. The gussets (sides of the fingers) are made of a different material. Flat cut gloves tend to feel a bit larger than others, although the size of the glove matters too.

Roll finger. The latex of the fingers curves around each finger to meet the backhand of the glove, there are no gussets. The roll of the latex allows for more ball contact, but roll finger gloves can feel bulky if you're not used to them. Also called a Gunn cut.

Negative cut. The seams of the fingers are sewn on the inside (negative) rather than the outside, making for a snug-fitting glove. Keepers with slender hands and those who like a tight fit often prefer a negative cut. They can be too restricting if you prefer a looser fit.

Manufacturers sometimes make hybrid cuts, for example flat cut with a rolled index or pinky finger. Experiment with different cuts and find out what you prefer.


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