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.

Focus on the saves

It is easy for goalkeepers to get caught up in their failures. After all, a keeper's mistakes are obvious and public. But goalkeepers and their coaches need to keep up the morale, and a way to do this is to focus on the saves rather than the misses. This doesn't mean we ignore mistakes—they still need to be corrected. But one way to stay positive is to put the attention on the good stuff, which often goes by without much comment. To borrow the title of a book by Tony DiCicco, Catch Them Being Good.

A great example of this was my high school boys final game of the season yesterday. We lost in overtime when my keeper came out and didn't completely get his hands to a long shot. The ball dribbled under him and slowly rolled into the net. It was a heartbreaking loss. But after the game, I told him "No apologies." He made a dozen saves during regulation and overtime up to that point, including turning two high shots just over the bar, a breakaway save, and a couple of point blank dives. Without him, we never even would have made it to overtime.

In training, if I have a keeper who is struggling with their confidence, we will work on basic hands-and-feet exercises the entire time and count saves. We ignore the misses, working for milestones like 50 saves, 100 saves, etc. The misses don't matter if you get up and make the next stop. We may set a goal for the session (e.g. 150 stops) and simply work until we hit that mark. It's a great way to take the focus off mistakes and get it back on the good stuff.


Always know where your towel is

I got an email yesterday and realized I am missing a bit of important gear on the equipment page. I live in the desert and have the good fortune to play on decent grass pitches most of the time, so I tend to forget that in many parts of the world a simple towel is a vital part of a goalkeeper's equipment:

"I find myself playing on muddy/crappy fields. Is there anyway I can clean my gloves during the game or at least attempt to get some of the caked in dirt to help with more traction for the gloves."

Keep a towel with you in the goal. If it's muddy use it to wipe the mud off your gloves and then use your water bottle to rinse them. If it's dry and dusty, dampen the towel and use it to wipe the dust off and then again rinse the gloves with your water. Many goalkeepers hang their towel off the side netting. In really bad conditions where you are making lots of saves, you might need several towels and change them as they become too dirty to use.

Oh, and practice good technique and getting up without using your hands! The best way to keep gloves clean is not to get them dirty in the first place.


Words of wisdom

Words of wisdom from paulee:

"Play every shot in training like it's your last.
Run every sprint like you stole something.
Take every cross like it's life or death.
The biggest difference between the successful athlete and those who fall by the wayside is their mental skills. Work on those, and watch your game take off."


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