There’s more to it than just making the save!
In my experience, spanning fifteen years as a goalkeeper coach, I am always battling the same issues with goalkeepers ages 12-14; they lack athleticism. This is something that must start at an early age and continue to be developed throughout the teenage years.
Athletic ability is a major factor in achieving a solid foundation for the overall development of a goalkeeper. Some fundamental skills lacking are throwing a ball, jumping rope, catching with both hands, doing a summersault, executing a proper “athletic stance” and even doing a simple “straight leg” vertical jump. When given consideration, these skills should already be in the athlete’s repertoire and should not be introduced for the first time on a soccer pitch at the age of 14.
The fundamental skill set to play this position is definitely very important and repetition is mandatory but equally important is being able to execute the save. Confidence comes from understanding “how” to make the save, then executing it with less effort due to already developed athleticism. As a result of not addressing this at an early age, many of the most common mistakes in making a save stems from the lack of fundamental development.
One thing that I make very clear with all the athletes I work with is that they are athletes first. I try to help, both the individual goalkeeper and their team coach, understand this concept. It is not the easiest conversation to have because many coaches search for immediate success rather than long-term development. However, once the message is received, both the goalkeeper and coach will start to see results. Perhaps the most important, the goalkeeper will gain confidence in their ability.
Finding a balance in your team practice that includes development in the areas of athleticism, technical skills and of course tactical play is the key to providing your goalkeeper the opportunity to reach his/her goals. By dedicating 20-30 minutes in every practice to your goalkeeper’s development, they will play confidently, positively and will most likely be a major factor in your team’s success.
Tania Singfield is the director and head coach of the Golden Gloves Academy and has worked with several professional goalkeepers, including Canadian Women’s Olympic Team goalkeepers. Tania’s playing experience include the Canadian National Team, World Cup Team, World University Team, Chicago Raptors and Ottawa Fury to name a few. Her coaching experience includes the University of Ottawa women’s program, the Ottawa Wizards and currently the University of Carleton women’s program in additional to the Golden Gloves Academy. Over her career, Tania has earned the reputation as one of Canada’s most passionate and innovative goalkeeper specialists.