The job of goalkeeper in youth soccer is not a glamorous one.
Games are either one-sided affairs where goalies are either picking the ball out of their net every few minutes or watching the rest of the kids on their team knocking the ball into the other net sixty yards away.
Or if the game is close, young goalkeepers are keenly aware that one mistake on their part could mean the difference between winning and losing. For a child that is a worrying thought.Is it any wonder that it’s often hard to find a player who actually wants to play ‘between the sticks?’ We can make our ‘keepers lives a bit more bearable by taking the time to coach them properly (not just for five minutes every other week…) and making sure they know exactly what their job entails.
So let’s give them some tips:
1. Always make a 100% effort to save a shot, even if you know you can’t stop it.
a) your team-mates will find it hard to blame you if you at least try to stop the ball and
b) you will find that you can stop shots you didn’t think you could. All you need to do is try!
2.If you dive to stop a ball, don’t lie on the ground any longer than you have to. Jump up quickly and look for a teammate to pass to. If there isn’t anyone available, tell them – loudly – that there should be!
3.If you do concede a goal, don’t complain. Don’t have a go at defenders, even though they may be at fault. What’s done is done. If you dwell on it it will affect your game and the confidence of those around you so just get on with the match and concentrate on the next save, not the last miss.
4. Communicate! Loudly! Goalkeepers need to tell their defenders where to stand at set pieces and warn them when attackers are approaching on their blind side.
But young ‘keepers are often reluctant to say anything, let alone shout instructions, and you will need to work hard on this aspect of their game. Encourage your keeper to talk to any team-mate who is in earshot and give him your permission to make as much noise as he wants to.
Look after your goalkeepers – they’re worth their weight in gold!