So what is wrong with being goalkeeper? Why don’t children want to play in this position?
1. Fear of letting the team down
Attackers, midfielders and defenders can all get away with making the occasional mistake but if a goalkeeper drops the ball in front of an attacker, scuffs a goal kick or lets a shot go through their legs… well, you know what happens next. For a child, the fear of letting the team down is a powerful disincentive to volunteering to go in goal.
2. The power of the press.
We are all aware of Rob Green’s “amazing howler” at the 2010 World Cup finals and there are plenty of gleeful “Top Ten Goalkeeper Mistakes” videos on YouTube. It’s no wonder young players are put off going in goal when they read about and watch a famous goalkeeper’s career crumble in one second.
But how can we convince our players, (and their parents), that being a goalkeeper is really a honour, not a guarantee of lasting infamy or a quick way to become a scapegoat for the rest of the team?
Specialist coaching for special players
It is not surprising that young goalkeepers make mistakes – many youth football (soccer) coaches never give their players any goalkeeper training. Some coaches say that’s because they don’t have the time and some say they don’t know how. But we should all devote some time in coaching sessions to our goalkeepers.
Try this: ask your players if they would like to practise passing for 10 minutes or spend the same time practising making saves. You may be surprised to find that your players actually want to learn goalkeeping techniques. OK, that doesn’t mean they’ll want to use them in a match but it’s a start.
Dress them up, not down
Don’t make your goalkeeper wear old, dirty gloves and a top that’s seen better days. Buy and use a really top-notch kit. A bright top, warm trousers and some good-quality gloves will make whoever plays in goal feel good about themselves.
Whose job is it anyway?
Make sure your players know that goals are never “let in” by your goalkeeper – they are always “scored” by your opponents and it is the outfield players’ job to stop the opposition from reaching scoring positions. So if an opposition player is within range of your goal, shoots and scores, it is not the goalkeeper’s fault.
Recognise and reward
Make a fuss of your goalkeeper at half time and during post-match chats with your players. Ensure they receive at least their fair share of “Player of the Match” awards and that they (and the rest of your players) know the goalkeeper is a special player.
If you follow these tips you might not get trampled in the rush when you ask for volunteers to go between the sticks. But it will make the position of goalkeeper in your team a desirable one, not a position to be avoided at all costs.