If you’re a goalkeeper, or a soccer coach looking to help your goalkeepers improve, then maybe you’ve got some tried and tested methods that work for you. If your methods aren’t working, why not give some of these tips a try?
1. The goalkeeper is the most important player in the team. As long as the goalkeeper and the team doesn’t concede, the team won’t be beaten. If the goalkeeper is beaten, then the team has to score.
2. Contrary to popular belief, the goalkeeper isn’t always the one to blame for conceding a goal – the ball has to go past 10 players on his/her team first. It may be a goalkeeping error, but it could also be that attackers, midfielders and defenders weren’t concentrating, or doing their jobs properly. Blaming the goalkeeper won’t do their confidence any good, and won’t help at all.
3. Goalkeepers often train with the outfield players, and whilst the fitness and some of the ball control aspects is relevant, a lot of a goalkeeper’s work is done with their hands, so they need a separate training session.
4. In a young team, or even for a more experienced older team, all players should have a go in goal, to see what it’s like. It will give them more of an idea how they can help their goalkeeper, and what the goalkeeper can do to help them. In addition, it may unearth a better goalkeeper! A goalkeeper shouldn’t be chosen on height alone. There are several world class goalkeepers who are “short” and many outfield players who are tall enough to go in goal.
5. Learning how to catch properly is important for any goalkeeper, and getting it right will dramatically improve the keeper’s confidence and ability. Additional skills such as narrowing the angle, and dealing with certain situations such as corners or free kicks and penalties can be learnt later on.
6. After the keeper has caught the ball, they need to stay calm, and think about what they’re going to do with the ball. There’s no point pulling off a great save, and then throwing the ball to an opponent, or booting the ball upfield before the team has had chance to regroup.
7. A goalkeeper needs to stay focussed for 90 minutes. It only takes a second to concede a goal. In a young team and especially for children, concentration should not be emphasised too much. Children have a short attention span, and will be easily distracted by something.
8. Learning how to dive should be encouraged, but for children it shouldn’t be forced. A young goalkeeper should learn the basics of catching and distributing the ball, before learning how to dive.
9. Encourage goalkeepers to use specific soccer drills designed for goalkeepers. These can include travelling sideways between the posts, catching, and distribution. By practicing with team mates and other goalkeepers, skills and confidence can be improved, so that when it comes to match day, there is nothing left to chance.
10. Goalkeepers are often said to be a breed apart. They put their heads where other players wouldn’t put the ball, they are the first to be blamed when their team concedes, and they can’t hide when they’re having a bad day. Still, the best goalkeepers will rise to the occasion, and do the the best they can.
The important thing is to enjoy playing football, and to enjoy being a goalkeeper. It’s not the most glamorous role on the pitch, and they are the first to get the blame when things go wrong. However, when it all gels, and the goalkeeper has a good game, they are usually the first player to get the praise. Will you become the number one goalkeeper?