It’s a tough task for a young goalkeeper to stop the opposition scoring. According to statistics, goalkeepers often have lengthy periods when they’re not actively participating in the game, usually around 3 or 4 minutes. However, as soon as they are required, they must make a decision within a split second on what action to take and follow through with it.
Unsurprisingly, mistakes happen. Below are the five most common errors a young goalkeeper will make.
Remaining at the goal line
It’s not uncommon for a young goalkeeper to remain on the goal line for the entire duration of the game. If an opposition player is attacking and preparing to take a shot at goal, instead of moving out and closing down the player (the usual tactic for an outfield player) the goalkeeper stays on his line.
During coaching sessions or matches, prompt the goalkeeper frequently to move out from his line. When your team has possession of the ball at the far end of the pitch, get the goalie to move forward ten paces and shuffle his feet around a little before quickly moving backward. Ask him to stop when he estimates he is half way back to his goal line, turn around to confirm and immediately refocus on the match.
Not enough communication with the defence
It’s funny how players love to chatter during coaching sessions and warm ups but as soon as they get on the pitch the communication stops! This is particularly common with young goalkeepers, who are inclined not to speak with their defenders, when in fact they should be directing them, instructing them where to intercept and the actions they should be taking.
During a coaching session, allocate each player a number. Using sequence drills, the players must call out their number so the team member with possession of the ball knows their location on the pitch, therefore where to pass to. Make use of statues as a coaching method and question the goalkeeper about how he sees the situation on the pitch. Is he happy with the defence and how it is organized? Are all members of the opposition marked? Questions such as these encourage the goalkeeper to think about situations and prompt him to give instructions to and communicate with his team-mates.
Moving too fast out of goal
Unlike the first error listed above, a goalkeeper who chooses to come out from the goal line to close down attack often does so at speed. When this is the case, the attacking player merely moves the ball around the keeper and easily puts it straight in the back of the net.
Similarly to the way an outfield player slows up roughly six feet away from their opponent when moving in to close him down, so should a goalkeeper. However, a goalie should allow a little more distance – approximately twelve to fifteen feet. He should give the illusion of size by spreading his arms wide and keep on his toes, prepared to move in whichever direction the attacker chooses.
Hitting the ground too soon
Another common error young goalkeepers make is going to ground too often rather than staying upright and keeping balanced. Sometimes they even exacerbate the problem by tackling the attacking player feet first.
Line up all outfield players during a training session and direct them to dribble the ball toward the goal and set up a shot. The intention is for the goalkeeper to move quickly out from his line toward the attacker and stop at a suitable distance away. He should make himself appear bigger by spreading his arms, all the while maintaining his balance and remaining upright. Repetition of this drill and giving encouragement through feedback should help enhance the keeper’s performance.
Not getting behind the ball
An inexperienced young goalie is sometimes motionless and tries to block the ball without moving his feet or attempting to position his body behind the ball.
The larger the player and the more he can get his body behind the ball, the greater the chance of successful goalkeeping. By always being on his toes, being able to anticipate play and knowing when the opposition are liable to take a shot, the better the goalkeeper will perform. Spend some time practising footwork with your outfield players and keeper enabling them to position themselves swiftly and readjust when necessary.