How do we get players to start playing in goal at an early age and stay with it? That’s easy, bring them to my academy, they’ll fall in love with the role in just minutes! (lol). Well, there isn’t a Zee Goalkeeper Academy in every town around America, well not yet (lol again). So what to do?
You need to select a team player that has the physical and psychological components that make up a successful candidate. No team member wants to be played at a position that he or she has no feeling for. There is no joy or positive outcome in playing a position that you are not equipped to play.
If kids ages 7 to 12 find something that they’re good at they usually tend to stick with it. Goalkeeping is no different and I see it all the time.
Coaches need to identify that player that has the size, strength, agility and coordination to play between the posts. If you identify such player they you’ll need to move to the next step that is the psychological component.
Mentally they must like playing in the role and forcing players into playing in goal will never keep them there. They must be able to handle pressure and most of all lead their teammates. If they enjoy the position and all the responsibilities that come with it, then you need to look at the last GK element: Are they brave? Scared goalkeepers will get hurt, fearless goalkeepers will hurt others. You need to find a keeper that is brave, that knows their limits and that is ready to jump out and break away at a strikers feet if needed.
I always repeat myself saying coaches must understand more fully the role of the goalkeeper and have realistic expectations on what the young and new GK can do to help the team. Coaches tend to forget that it takes all team to guarantee the goalkeeper has success.
The key to keep a field player in goal is to respect them. Many times the goalkeepers 11 years of age or younger don’t receive the same committed training to enhance their development that field players do. How many times do we see the team training with the coach and the two goalkeepers off to the side working by themselves and then join the team to take a few shots?
There is no way you can develop a goalkeeper like this. Yet the majority of youth club coaches expect them to perform at a highly skilled level on game day. Clubs and teams need to a designated keeper trainer to work with all the keepers in the club on their skill development as well as their psychological development. The United Soccer Coaches (NSCAA) posted an interesting article in 2016 where they stated around 85% of youth soccer clubs have no specific goalkeeper training. DAMN!
The goalkeeper sessions need to be held weekly and address the different levels and ages of the keepers in the club.
Goalkeeping involves intensive and skilled training just like field players and thus you need coaching to teach it, to refine it, and to critique it. If a keeper is properly developed, then he or she will have great confidence that they can succeed. Once they find continued success, lots of action and joy then they’ll be clinging on to the goal and will love everything about being a goalkeeper!