How important is Game Time/Field Play for a Young Goalkeepers Development?

ZEE Goalkeeper Academy Florida - Goalkeeper Training, Camps and Clinics > Blog > Goalkeepers > How important is Game Time/Field Play for a Young Goalkeepers Development?

No matter what age they are 7 or 14, as long as they’re serious about the position, they’ll be competing for a starting goalkeeper spot on their youth soccer club team. Some may be trying out for state division or NPL regional teams or even for a DA national team program.

Goalkeepers need to play as many soccer games as they can, whether that’s in the park, or with their youth soccer travel team or even as a guest player for another team. Keepers must play as many games as they can!!

With goalkeeping, the amount of game time it takes for your boy or girl to get to the highest level is a lot more than you parents actually think. Goalkeepers need more games time to be top-level than the average field player, this is a fact. Dino Zoff, Tim Howard and many other goalkeeper legends have confirmed this over the past years.

At a young age you’ll make a lot of mistakes but that’s actually good because you learn from the “in game” mistakes. Mistakes in training don’t really count, because there are no consequences. Unless you continue to make the same mistakes over and over again even if the coach is showing you differently. It’s very important for the younger goalkeepers to get in as many game-like situations as possible. Training is good, but games situations are more important.

At our academy we put in as much Game-Like situations as possible and it really works a LOT, but there is nothing like the real game and that’s why we need to get our keepers to play as much as they can.

My son, age 7. Blake has been a goalkeeper for more than two years, he has played with two different clubs. The previous club was an administrative disaster and his team was put together with a bunch of kids that had never played soccer before. So, at every game he would be hammered, he would find himself being shot on 20 to 30 times each game. He was losing most of the games, but he was gaining incredible experience. This was the most perfect learning tool for him. It was a matter of fact that his goalkeeper development in the four months that he was at this “babysitting” soccer club got better every game!

We moved him to a better organized soccer club, a club that takes soccer seriously and that has both an advanced academy (sponsored by Barcelona FC) and 25+ youth competitive travel soccer teams. He has been placed on a Division 3 team that basically won every single game this season. He was getting in some good saves, but he certainly was not getting hammered like at the past club… and guess what? His development was not coming along like it was.

The fact that his new team has deleted every team that they played against has gotten them promoted to Division 2. Here my son’s team will be competing with better equipped teams, so he wont be leaning against the post for 3/4 of the game (lol). This came at a perfect time!

I can train one-on-one with him for 3 hours a day 6 days a week, but unless I get him at least 2 games a week under his belt he’s not going to develop as fast as I would like him to.

Basic training works on agility and on how to extend, back-step, collect and shift, but are just a slice of the cake that make a great goalkeeper. Our academy “Real-game-scenario” training drills are a large slice of the cake, but it is not enough! It’s the game that is the biggest slice of that cake and without at least a game and a scrimmage per week, don’t expect your kid to be the next Manuel Neuer or Hope Solo.