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.

What the game is all about

We all know why we play the game of soccer... the grit, the glory, the delight at a well-turned move or brilliant pass, the emotion, and just the fact that it plain feels good to kick or catch a ball. But what satisfaction is there in being a coach, or even a referee? People in those positions do just as much, if not more, work than the players, yet get less recognition and more grief (especially in the case of the ref). There is an old saying that a coach never gets enough credit when a team wins, and too much credit when it loses.

Tonight, some of the reasons I coach and ref were apparent. I was reffing a game that featured a number of players I formerly coached. It was great to see them still playing—and playing well—and I had the best seat in the house to watch a very good soccer game. When the players came up and thanked me after the game, I was pleased to have been a part of the match. The players truly were grateful I was there, and it feels good to be able to help the sport.

But the coaching payoff was yet to come. One of the young ladies I used to coach came up to chat for a few moments after the game. I had coached her for one year and saw her rise rapidly through the ranks, playing for very good teams both in club and high school. I hadn't coached her for three years, yet she made it a point to tell me she thought I was the best coach she'd had, and that she still remembered and used much of what I'd taught her.

That is a compliment of the highest order. I think... I hope... every coach strives to make a difference, to make an impact on a player's life. Anson Dorrance talks about his joy at being invited to former players' weddings, to be included in that person's world. Whether it's on or off the soccer field, we all want to be remembered. And when that happens, there's no greater feeling. That is what being a coach is all about.


The brain is a muscle

While at a keeper camp last week, I sometimes saw goalkeepers going through the motions of a warm-up without warming up the most important part of the goalkeeper's body: the brain. While we need to get blood flowing to the muscles and get stretched and limber, we also need to use the warm-up to get into the proper frame of mind. Warm-up is about focus and technical perfection, not just a physical exercise. A goalkeeper should zero in on perfect form on every catch, every dive, every ball in warm-up, whether it's for a pre-season training session or a championship match.

I addressed the physical part of the warm-up in previous blog entry, but how you address the mental side of the warm-up is just as important. Focus during the physical activities is key, but many keepers use other psychological methods to help prepare them: visualization, relaxation exercises or music, music or self-talk to help get pumped up. Every keeper has different needs. Work with your coach, teammates or fellow goalkeepers to help get you optimally ready for every soccer game or training session.

You can find more articles on goalkeeping warm-ups over at KeeperStop (just register—it's free—and go to the "Post to Post" training tips section), and a selection on the Decatur Sports goalkeeping drills page.


Keller made three

In one of my first blog entries I introduced one of my pithy goalkeeping sayings: "A good goalkeeper makes the first save, a great goalkeeper makes the second save...."

Normally I finish with: "...and a top-class goalkeeper doesn't have to make a save." But last night, Kasey Keller made the third save in one quick flurry in the USA's World Cup qualifier vs Panama. In the span of just a few seconds, he saved a sharp header going down to his left, recovered and saved a close-in shot going low to his right, and then got back up to snare a looping header that was going under the crossbar. I was in awe. No question that Keller is playing as well as any goalkeeper in the world right now.


Pig Ball

'Pig-Ball' Soccer Match Staged in Russia. My only question is, how do mashed carrots affect the grip of goalkeeping gloves?


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