Simon Robinson, owner/coach of J4K of East PA, posted “Until You Give It a Go -You Don’t Know!!” on October 31, 2016. It is excellent advice for all goalkeepers, particularly the younger ones who are in the early stages of their training.
Rather than reinvent the wheel, I have elected to emphasize the importance of Simon’s comments with my own experiences.
I played between the years 1948-1958, which included junior and senior high school, college and several years with a semi-pro team in Bethlehem, PA. I began at age 14 having never played or even seen a soccer game.
Goalkeeper coaching was virtually non-existent back then and GK gloves were not yet in use. Somehow, I gradually improved as a goalkeeper.
However, everything accelerated my sophomore year in college. Freshmen were not allowed to play varsity back then.
When I was not pleased with my training during our practices, I suggested to the coach that I wanted to take responsibility for the team’s goalkeeper training, myself and the backup. I emphasized that it was important to test our limits and giving up goals in practice did not matter.
I was short by goalkeeper standards, 5’-7”, but I had quick reflexes and was a sprinter. I decided to use my quickness and speed to advantage by stopping attacks as far out as possible.
In practice, I would successfully challenge for crosses as far out as the eighteen. Much to my surprise, my brain was much more conservative in games as it checked me from going too far. However, I had the confidence to come out well beyond the six.
I also realized that I was not moving to save shots to the far post. It did not make sense to concede these shots without a challenge, so I decided to try for everything that was not obviously wide.
Gradually, I came closer and closer to the ball until I was making saves. Surprisingly, this happened over a very brief period of time. I became almost obsessed with trying for everything.
I have had success as a volunteer high school goalkeeper coach for the past eight years.
However, my joy of coaching increased when I became owner/coach of Just4Keepers of Western MA goalkeeper training academy in January 2015. This expanded my coaching experience to U10-U18 goalkeepers, both boys and girls.
My experience of being “self-taught” permeates throughout all my training sessions. I understand what it is like going through the learning process.
I explain to my students the lessons of my learning experiences and emphasize that results would come very quickly if they worked hard and extended themselves. It is music to my ears when I hear, “coach, it actually works.”
They all willingly embrace the reality that there is no substitute for patience and repetition.