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.

Technique vs Tactics

Technique vs tactics. Many coaches want to spend their time on the tactical stuff: formations, systems of play, what to do and when to do it. But at the youth level, many of the breakdowns are technical. A style that requires 30-yard balls played in the air to a target forward breaks down if the players can't strike a ball well enough to get it 30 yards. A coach who can't teach the technique will get nowhere with the tactics.

However, for goalkeeper training we often get the opposite. We work in isolation on technical skills, over and over, but often we forget to work the keeper back in with the team so we can coach the tactical (decision making) part of the game with a real defense and real attackers in front of them. This may be one reason goalkeepers mature later than field players: they don't always get the coaching in game-like situations that field players get.

A good coach also not only has to identify the breakdown and fix it, but realize whether a mistake is technical or tactical. To use my previous example of a keeper struggling with breakaways, I could have spend hours on timing the shooter, when to come off the line, where to be positioned, and gotten nowhere. The problem was a technical one, not tactical. Can you tell which is which?


Spotting the critical flaw

Often what appears to be a "mental block" for a player in a certain area can be a very simple adjustment in technique. The poor technique makes it difficult to accomplish the task, and if the player or coach can't identify the flaw, the player soon believes the problem is in their head.

I spent quite a bit of time this season with my HS goalkeeper working on breakaways. She is fairly tall and has long legs and has difficulty going low, especially under pressure. She can make a breakaway save fine in a controlled coaching situation, but in a game situation really struggled. Because of this, she felt she had a "mental block" against going low and sliding through a ball.

But I noticed that on a game-like breakaway, she was always standing more upright, legs straight and bent over at the waist. That body shape is a tough position to get your hands low enough and makes it difficult to start the slide. We corrected her stance by getting her butt lower to the ground, knees bent deeply and head and shoulders up. Suddenly it became much easier for her to perform correctly.

That's where a coach, particularly a keeper coach, makes their living. Can you spot the flaws that are preventing the athlete from succeeding, and can you fix them?


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