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Making a difficult save look simple

First let me say, I welcome suggestions and questions of why we at J4K of NoVA do particular drills and what we are trying to accomplish with each session. Each session has a theme and it’s carried throughout the technical skills we are working on that week.

Recently, a person whom I don’t know and does not have a goalkeeper in the J4K of NoVa program made a critical observation of my training program. He didn’t attempt to engage me in any type of conversation about the negative comments he made. He just lobbed a criticism and disappeared. I was taken aback to be honest. I have no way of knowing whether he was a coach or a casual observer, a person who had played himself or just an armchair coach, was he EVER a goalkeeper or why he felt compelled to criticize what so many parents have told me is really helping their goalkeepers’ skills and confidence.

To be honest, these comments made me upset. BUT, he did spur me to really take a hard look at what I do in each session, how I’m preparing my keepers for match situations.  Are they being put into positions where they can be successful? Am I stretching their comfort zone so they can make that difficult save?

One of his comments was that the goalkeepers he saw are not given the chance to “comfortably” react. Comfortably react?? That seems to be an oxymoron to me. Very rarely are saves comfortable. What happens is that the best goalkeepers, no matter what age, make the difficult save seem simple, almost routine.  It seems to me by definition, many saves goalkeepers make are uncomfortable and that’s what and why we at J4K of NoVA spend so much time training young keepers. Teaching keepers how to move their feet getting their bodies in the best possible position to make a save. That’s what training is for……to put the GK in uncomfortable situations over and over again to help make them react quickly and decisively. Repetition is the master of all things goalkeeping and the more you can make a variety of saves the better prepared the developing keeper will be.

If during J4K of NoVA training all the technical work we do does not challenge keepers and was simple and comfortable, they would not be prepared to react in the uncomfortable situations. Responding to the deflected ball  for example,  is not comfortable. It requires good footwork and the ability to change directions or angles quickly.  Using strength and power developed over countless hours saving uncomfortable shots during that training.

So to you sir whomever you are,  thank you for pointing out our keepers are required to react in uncomfortable situations. It’s my goal to make sure they can make those difficult saves look simple.

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