How a Parent can Support a Youth Goalkeeper

Parents play a critical role in their child’s Goalkeeper Development, but mom and dad have you ever realized whether you’re supporting your son or daughters development or hindering it? How can you support and encourage your young keeper without getting in the way?

We’ve all seen the loud parent and may I add in most cases a little under-qualified, telling the keeper on the sideline what to do, then you have the parent that will drive the child to practice or the weekend game and then chat on their phone looking in the opposite direction of the game field.

The majority of goalie parents fall somewhere in the middle: these are the parents who have good intentions and just want the best for their child. So, I’m going to list some classic behaviors I’ve seen from parents that can have a dramatic impact on goalkeepers and their soccer development.

Most kids want the approval of their parents and most of all their coach, and they need to know you encourage them even when they let that ball go in, that you applaud the fact that they tried, even if they fail. Because at the end of the day, they don’t fail. They learn something from that negative moment of the game and that will help them grow as a goalkeeper and most of all as a person.

Approaching the coach and asking why your kid didn’t get enough playing time? This is the conversation every coach hates to have with a parent, and it is NOT going to help your child in any way whatsoever. Instead, your role as a parent is not to complain but to encourage your little goalkeeper to take ownership of their 18 yard box and their development as a player.

You as parents should be the one to approach the coach if you have a question or concern. I promise you in most clubs this will go over better with the coach, will likely result in more useful information and better communication between you and the club staff.

How much do you know about what your child the goalkeeper is working on during practice? I encourage you soccer mom and dad to find out! This doesn’t mean calling up the coach or club and asking for their practice plans. Instead, keep your ears and eyes open on the field, listen to what the coach is asking the keeper to do and then engage your child in a conversation about training and what they’re learning and what they find fun and challenging. This can also lead to helping your goalkeeper set personal goals in their own development.

I hear all the time on the sideline mom’s and dad’s scream “pick it up” or “come out get the ball!” Maybe it’s you that is reading, it could be, because every game I assist I look around and from field to field I see them doing it. It’s normal in a parent to want to help your player on the field, but this does not help. These directions can cause anxiety for a player already under pressure on the other side of the field, where the coach is telling him to punt it. In fact, most parents think that they’re competent but they’re not and they may even directly contradict what their coach has instructed them to do. The biggest No No is: Do not coach on the sidelines unless you are the coach or assistant coach of that particular team. Instead, stick to basic encouragement and cheering. try it.

So much of the game is mental. Providing reminders of great saves, and performances fills the goalkeeper’s confidence bucket and encourages repeat performances. Things such as ” remember that great save you made against this team last time you played them”

What is your post-game ritual with your child? Do you start analyzing right away the game and what he/she did right or wrong before you even get in the car? Believe me – your little goalkeeper knows what they did wrong. If they don’t, it’s very likely their coach or a teammate has already told them.

I start talking to my 8 year old goalkeeper when he is ready to talk about it. My son is very confident during practice, a little less during the games, so I prefer to let him cool off mentally first, then we talk about the good and the things that he could have done better.

If you want to make it perfect then it is important to support goalkeepers wanting to watch their trade be applied at the highest level. By watching live college or pro soccer games, goalkeepers can see what the pro’s do from warm up to after the game. Even taking an interest in watching a game on TV will help goalkeepers share observations with someone.

Also as a parent, you are the most likely and closest person to do this… “Video Taping” Recording games from behind the goal and watching with your child provides invaluable visual learning of the good bad of the past game.

Take them to the park, have them show you what they’ve learnt from their coach take shots on them and ask them what this and that save is called, you’re both having fun and at the same time you’re building his/her confidence.