uhlsport USA
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Training Session Index

Throwing Distribution
Kicking Distribution


Although young goalkeeper often kick the ball away in the interest of getting the ball away from the goalmouth, throwing the ball is much more accurate and is a great way to start the counterattack.

  • Warm Up (10 min)
    Jog and stretch, putting more emphasis on upper body and arms: large arm movements (windmilling, etc.) will get the shoulders loosened up. Have goalkeepers throw & catch in pairs or facing lines, but make the distance a bit larger than usual.
    Coaching Points Make sure the arms and back are thoroughly warmed up.

  • Rolling the Ball (5 min)
    Demonstrate or review basic rolling technique; have them roll the ball back and forth in pairs; then have the target player moving so the roll must lead them, like a good pass. Keepers should receive the ball with their feet, like a field player, then pick it up for their throw.
    Coaching Points The release point of the ball should be low, so the ball rolls smoothly. Rolls shouldn't be slow and lazy; they should get there as quickly as possible, so put some zip on the ball! A moving receiver should be able to take the ball in stride.

  • Baseball/Sidearm Throw (5 min)
    Demonstrate or review techniques for these throws. Again in pairs, practice the throw first to a stationary partner, then to a moving one.
    Coaching Points As before, the release point should be low. The ball should not be high and looping; it should hit the ground half- to three-quarters of the way to the target so it has time to settle. Some backspin on the ball will help this happen. Again, the throw should have some pace on it. Keepers receive the balls with their feet.

  • Same/Switch (5 min)
    This activity needs four keepers in a square about 20 yards on a side. One player rolls the ball an adjacent teammate. As this is happening, the player diagonally across the square will call "Same" or "Switch". If the call is "same", the goalkeeper returns the ball to the player it came from with a roll. If the call is "switch", the keeper sends the ball to the opposite side with a baseball or sidearm throw. The player diagonally across from the keeper receiving the ball calls "Same" or "Switch" and the sequence repeats.
    Coaching Points Rolls are used for close distribution, which might typically be a teammate on the same side of the field as where the ball is. A baseball or sidearm throw is used for longer distances, as when the keeper might want to quickly switch fields. The diagonally opposite player should call "same" or "switch" before the keeper across from them has received the ball, so the keeper must quickly distribute the ball in the proper direction and with the correct technique. Make sure they keep up a quick pace in this exercise.

  • Overhand (Sling) Throw (5 min)
    Demonstrate or review the overhand throwing technique. Keepers should practice in pairs at a distance of 25-30 yards.
    Coaching Points Once again, look for a low release point with a low trajectory throw that hits the ground a ways in front of the receiving player. Three common problems I see with this throw: 1) Bent elbow. The arm needs to be straight, elbow locked, throughout the throw. 2) Ball not locked in. The ball must be held securely between the hand and the forearm with a bent wrist, not just held in the palm of the hand. 3) Sidearm throw. This throw should be straight over the top for better accuracy.

  • Throwing square (10 min)
    Four keepers in a 25-yard square, with one defender in the middle. Keepers throw the ball around the square, using a roll, baseball or sidearm throw to teammates on either side, or an overhand throw to the player across diagonally, keeping the ball away from the defender. Keepers receive the ball with their feet before picking it up to throw; if the ball can't be received cleanly the defender may challenge for the ball. If the defender in the middle are keepers, they can exchange places with an outside keeper if they win the ball. You can vary the number of players outside and number of defenders based on ability and the number of players available.
    Coaching Points Encourage quick decision making -- find the open player fast, before the defender closes down. Throws should find their teammates feet and be on the ground (not bouncing) to prevent loss of posession.

  • "Ultimate" Throwing (15 min)
    Divide keepers into two groups, and mark out a field a bit larger than you would use with a similar number of field players. Add an 8 yard deep "end zone" at each end. This game is similar to Ultimate Frisbee, except that players receive the ball with their feet. One team throws the ball to the other to start; a team advances the ball by throwing to a teammate, who receives it with their feet and controls it. Once they have, they may not move, but must pick the ball up and throw it to another teammate from that spot. Score a point by throwing to a teammate who controls the ball in the end zone. Defenders on the other team may intercept the throw or win the ball using their feet if the thrower's teammate does not control the ball. The thrower may not be closely marked; defenders must stay at least two arm-lengths from the thrower.
    Coaching Points Find open teammates quickly and hit them in the feet. Enforce good goalkeeper throwing techniques; often players begin to simply lob the ball up towards the end zone. Using a neutral player or two who is always with the team in posession will make this game easier.

  • Throwing Distribution Game (20 min)
    This game uses two keepers in goals at each end (cone goals are fine for this activity) and field players in the middle, one or two of whom are neutrals who always play with the team in posession. Minimum in the middle is 1v1+1 (1v1 plus neutral), it can go all the way up to almost full sides if you like (8v8+2). Field size varies with the number of players, but it should be on the large side. Play like a regular game, except that the objective of the offense is not to score goals -- it's to "shoot" the ball right to the goalkeeper so they can then distribute. The neutrals make this work by giving the attackers a couple extra players to get "shots" on goal, and giving the goalkeeper a couple more distribution options. Defenders can play less than 100% as well to give the keepers more work.
    Coaching Points Keepers should look to distribute quickly when the receive the ball -- look long first, and if there is nothing there go shorter. The longer they wait, the harder it will be to find an open player as the defense gets organized. Make sure throws are to feet and easy to receive, and have enough pace to get to the receiver before the defense can pick off the ball.

  • Soccer Golf (Throwing Only) (15 min)
    Soccer golf is one of the most popular activities with my goalkeepers every season. Before practice, chart out a "golf course", noting "tees" and "holes". Tees just need to be a grassy location; holes should be 75 to 150 yards in length with an object at the end to hit. Please use objects nobody will mind getting hit with a soccer ball! Trash cans, street signs, goalposts, and fenceposts are some items that are usually acceptable. You can also mark out your own course using corner flags or coaching sticks. Then play "golf", using throwing technique to get the ball near to, and then hitting the "hole" object, in the fewest throws.
    Coaching Points Use the appropriate throw -- tee off with a long overhand throw, then a more accurate baseball throw to get close, and a roll to finish it off.

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Long distribution kicks often become 50/50 balls, but a goalkeeper who can punt or drop kick the ball both far and accurately is a great asset to the team, and can even contribute the occasional assist on a goal!

  • Warm-Up (10 min)
    Run, do some footwork exercises and stretch, making sure to especially warm up the hip flexors and quads with large movements.
    Coaching Points It's important to be fully warmed and ready before starting to punt the ball.

  • Punts and Drop Kicks Into a Net (10 min)
    The easiest way to get lots of repetition on punts and drop kicks without having to chase balls is to kick into a goal with a net. Review basic technique and carefully watch -- and listen! -- to the keepers' form. Not only can you see good technique or mistakes, but you can hear them. A good kick has a definite "solid" sound.
    Coaching Points Make sure they've got the basics: starting with two hands, dropping (not tossing) the ball, keeping everything in a straight line, and following through. This activity can be shortened or lengthened depending on the amount of technical correction the players need.

  • Kicking for Accuracy (10 min)
    Keepers work in pairs (or with a coach). Starting 20-30 yards apart, keepers punt and/or drop kick back and forth, with emphasis on accuracy and putting the ball right in the hands of their partner. As the activity goes along, gradually increase the distance, ending up near the limits of the keepers' range.
    Coaching Points If the technique is sound, a keeper will get good distance simply by letting their technique do the work. Focus on accuracy, and let the kick be smooth and easy.

  • Target Kicking (10 min)
    Add some "pressure" by having the goalkeeper serve several long balls one after the other, trying to hit targets at varying distances and locations. Coach should serve a ball to the keeper who kicks to the specified target; as soon as the ball leaves the keeper's foot serve them another one. You can use other players as targets (they can also chase the balls), areas marked with cones (vary the size of the target based on ability and distance), or even goal frames (if they have nets, on-target shots won't have to be chased). You can make this a competition by awarding points for targets hit (and perhaps fewer points for getting close, or for kicks that fall short but roll or bounce into the target area).
    Coaching Points Although we are trying to go quickly, make sure the keeper doesn't rush. This is a matter of "going as fast as you can, not as fast as you can't". Punts and drop kicks need to be consistent; rushing will throw off the timing.

  • Save & Serve (10 min)
    Just like Target Kicking above, but this time the distribution to the target comes after making a save of a shot on goal. Targets should be near (or beyond) midfield, depending on the ability of the keeper; after making the save, the keeper should sprint up to the edge of the penalty area and distribute to the target called by the coach, then backpedal to the goal line to make another save and distribute again. You can make this a competition as well, adding points for the initial save. You can also add an "attacker" or two just outside the penalty area to get in the way and make things more realistic and game-like.
    Coaching Points Technique suffers when players are tired. After three or four sequences of save, sprint, & serve, the keepers will tire. Don't let the technique start to slide, and make sure they still don't rush. This would be a good time to go over the six-second rule, perhaps even counting the six seconds aloud so the keeper gets a good idea of how long they have to distribute the ball.

  • Game-Like Service (20 min)
    This game requires 8-12 field players and two keepers on a full size field (perhaps a bit smaller for young players). Players are divided into two teams; half of each team is stationed on one half of the field, the remaining players on the other half (so if you had 8 players, 4 red and 4 blue, you'd have 2 red and 2 blue in each half of the field). One keeper starts with the ball, and as the field players move for position, the goalkeeper punts or drop kicks it, trying to pick out a player from their team in the opposite end of the field. If the keeper's team wins the ball, they can turn and attack the opposing goal, trying to score (other team defends). If the opponents win the ball, they simply pass the ball back to their own keeper, who will then attempt to distribute to the players in the other half of the field. (Players who are in the same end of the field as the keeper who is distributing simply rest.) Points scored for a successful distribution, and for goals scored off a distribution.
    Coaching Points The goalkeeper will now have to pick out moving targets and targets who have opposition.

  • Soccer Golf, with Kicks (20 min)
    Set up a "golf course" like the throwing version of soccer golf above, but lengthen the holes to 100 to 300 yards. "Tee shots" on these long holes should be punts or drop kicks; keepers should then use throwing distributions when they get close to the "holes".
    Coaching Points It's probably better to be accurate and a little short than have the ball land off in a tree, lake or yard. Players will tend to over-kick the ball to get distance on long holes; they should relax and let the technique work for them to get the distance they want.

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