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To call KEEPER or AWAY, that is the question….

The training with J4K of NoVA focuses on all aspects of goalkeeping, from the physical to the psychological, the technical to the tactical. There are no boundaries with the areas we cover in our weekly sessions.

Each week a different topic is addressed and although most are interrelated, special attention is paid and discussed focusing on a core aspect. This week the J4K of NoVA academies are working on High Balls and Crosses. Dealing with these type of balls is one that takes time and confidence to master and like all skills of a quality goalkeeper, must be practiced on a regular and consistent basis. Without the confidence and ability to asses the best way to handle these situations, a goalkeeper will be inclined to step back into the goal and call “AWAY” on many balls he/she should come out and catch.

High ball catchDealing with high balls and crosses involves reading the ball first. The height, the pace of the ball, is the ball floating in or driven, swinging in or away from goal, wind at your back or face, traffic in front of you or clear open space, attacking players marked or not? All these factors rush through a Goalkeepers mind in an instant, and he/she is expected to have made a decision on coming to get the high/crossed ball or leave it for the defenders to deal with. A difficult task no doubt! There is no simple black and white answer “if this, than do that” to give developing keepers when dealing with these. The confidence in catching plays a huge part in whether a younger keeper will come out and make a play on the ball. If they have good soft hands and can handle balls above their head they are much more likely to attack a high/crossed ball. So, during training with J4K of NoVA we concentrate on good hand and body position when going up for these balls. Catching the ball at its highest point with slightly bent arms above the head with a raised knee to protect the body are all technical skills practiced. Getting players in the habit of calling “KEEPER” when attacking a ball is also very important – we use scenarios that involve pressure and without pressure to get used to a variety of situations a goalkeeper may face during a match.

But how do we prepare the developing keeper to be comfortable in these situations? Simply, through repetition and confidence building exercises. At J4K, our goal is to instill confidence in the youth keeper so they can be comfortable on the field and make sound goalkeeping decisions because of the training they have received. Will they succeed each and every time, no they won’t. But we want the developing keeper to not be afraid to try and get to the high/crossed ball.

As J4K international coaches we work hard for small successes with our players, and to have a player tell us “coach I came out and stole 3 high balls from crosses this weekend in my game” is an awesome thing. Because we know they’re able to answer the question of calling keeper or away…..

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