You may not agree with me that the goalkeeper is the most important position on the pitch but I’m sure you would agree that youth coaches spend far too little time developing our goalkeepers. To help you to recognize that goalkeeping is vital to your team success I offer the following suggestions on development…..
Dress your goalkeeper for success….
Looking good does not make one a better goalkeeper but looking the part breeds confidence. How your goalkeeper looks sends a signal not only to the player but also to the other team. A well-dressed, professional looking keeper can be intimidating to the other team. Throwing a player in goal, with no gloves, with an old smelly bib on, makes that player feel that playing that position is not important.
Encourage your keeper to leave the box…..
We coaches must commit to train our keepers from early ages to come out for through balls, move up field when the ball is in the opponents half and have the confidence to receive a back pass. Yes they will make mistakes and give up goals but so what?! The primary duty of the youth coach is to develop the player, this includes the keeper! They will make mistakes but in the long run football will benefit by having a keeper that can really play the position. Coach your keeper to leave the goal line, six yard box and even the eighteen yard box. It keeps them engaged in the game and in contact with the action on the field.
Teach your keeper to communicate……
The goalkeeper can see the whole field. Coaches need to train the keeper to be the most vocal of players on the team. The coach who yells “keeper!” for the goalkeeper to come off the line for the ball is doing that player a disservice! The goalkeeper should be trained to make those decisions themselves. Whether they are calling a defender to mark an unopposed striker, calling a team mate to switch the play or coming for the ball by yelling ‘keeper’, the keeper that is involved in the game benefits the team.
Have your goalkeeper take the goal kicks and some free kicks…..
So many times I have seen a player with a ‘stronger leg’ come back to take the goal kicks. If player development is the main concern at youth level, which it should be, then this does not develop your goalkeeper. The solution to a goalkeeper that can’t kick well is to train them to kick better and give them as many opportunities in training and in matches to do so. In addition to the development of your goalkeeper there are benefits to having them take goal kicks and free kicks in and around their area. It keeps them involved in the match and it gives your team an additional player to receive the ball and it pushes your team further up the field.
Give your goalkeeper GK-specific training……
Team training is not team training if you leave out part of the team! Coaches need to plan team training sessions that focus on goalkeeping. A training session with goalkeepers receiving crosses and corners is one where other players benefit from taking crosses and corners. A session designed to train goalkeepers to save breakaways is also a good session for attackers to practice finishing. What use is it to train your team to play like Barcelona if your goalkeeper lets in soft goal after soft goal because they have not been trained properly? If you are not including your goalkeeping into team training you are not training your entire team. If you don’t feel competent to train your goalkeepers, find someone who is or ask your club or other coaches for information.
7 out of 10 players quit organized football by the age of 13!
Young players are being taught to focus on SHORT-TERM winning results rather than on SKILL DEVELOPMENT which sets the foundation for LONG-TERM involvement, enjoyment and success.
This MISGUIDED focus on game results sets athletes up for….
Dulls interest and passion
Squashes individual freedom, risk taking and creativity
Leads to decreased performance due to tension and anxiety
Drives kids away from organized sports, robbing them of the tremendous benefits of athletic participation.