Young goalkeepers and their parents often come to Just 4 Keepers to as for more “advanced goalkeeper training.”  But, the problem lies in the fact that goalkeeping is really a very simple position on the field; stay on ball line, defend the goal and thrwart attacks with saves, support and organize the defense, provide options to pass, and start the offense, etc. However, there are a lot of particular aspects psychologically and physically that go into each and every movement that define a goalkeeper as advanced.  This series of blogs discusses them.

Part 1 – Advanced Goalkeeper Training  – Do you enjoy training enough to focus on the little things?

Goalkeeper academies and soccer clubs that run weekly goalkeeping sessions, clinics, and camps see young soccer players at a number of skill levels.  All goalkeeper coaches who are truly working with the spectrum of youth soccer players, like we do at Just 4 Keepers, find enjoyment teaching the goalie position because we know that there is a thread, a state of mind, that novices to professionals share: A consistent mental and physical presence that manifests in an observed desire to practice the basics.  This mind-body meditation is where advanced players find enjoyment in the position and continue with the enjoyment working out with goalkeeper specific movements in the gym or wherever even after the playing days are over. I’m staying fit at 48, which is one of the reasons that I love being a coach so much too.   

The repetition of the basics is also a practice regimen where some goalkeeper students, especially around 12 to 14, will feel that they are capable of of flying back and forth with top and bottom hand perries for an entire session and get frustrated with these “simple movements.” These acrobatic saves certainly have their place in a practice session too, and let’s not pretend that they aren’t fun either, for some novice goalkeepers, but most of the time “advanced goalkeeper training” is about the basics not the acrobatics: The ability to serve with the feet and hands, movements by stepping, body shape, ability to fall and recover, and catching.

As a coach remember too, to be careful and observe the “enjoyment” of the game not necessarily only through smiles and laughter, as it sometimes shows through scowls and frustration.  It may not be the kid out there training that it intensely enthusiastic, but may be careful, vigilant, and alert.  Many times, this is the young soccer player that is missed in a tryout at US soccer clubs that doesn’t make the cut at a tryout, a system that is idiotic in my opinion.   This may be the kid that goes home and practices juggling, punts the ball against a wall and catches or traps it, watches training videos on youtube, and shares a passion with a fanatic soccer parent that doesn’t watch any other sport.

So, parents that observe a training and feel like it isn’t advanced of, or goalkeeper that feels that you are too advanced for basic drills, here’s a challenge:

Watch a game highlight with with you son or daughter on a computer and take a multiple screenshots of the goalkeeper whether delivering the ball, preparing for a save on the move, or standing in set position, making a save and recovering from the save.  Now, become the goalkeeper coach/goalkeeper and look at every body position closely throughout the movement, not just the beginning and end parts. And, here are some questions to ask:   Does the keeper use the inside or outside of the foot? Do the feet cross while in movement? What does the set position look like? Is there a power step, a sweep to collapse?  What were the details of the successful/failed  catch or perry?   Did the keeper fall without risking injury?  What was the recovery like? Rocker move? Spin? And, for all questions Why? Why not?    

Goalkeepers and parents, now imagine training every single movement along that line observed by the goalkeeper in the image and answer everyone these questions plus a lot more.  Think about how you can practice this, and ff you are ready to train to each specific body position along that line of movement and practice it over and over again, then you’re on the road to being an “advanced keeper.”