I was recently asked for advice on what should go in a goalkeeping area that was being made…. in someone’s back yard.
“Wow” – I said. I immediately went into shopping list mode! The area is as big as a penalty box and this is what I came up with. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any advice.
A goal. The same size as what you play in
A lined penalty area for realism and to get visual clues when training
Balls. Lots of them for lots of repetitions
Rebound wall to practice both kicking and control – The modern day goalkeeper needs to be great with their feet. Control and accuracy of kick are vital.
Ladder and cones – Again, goalkeepers need to have quick foot movements. There are so many ladder routines, one will never get bored. Read the article regarding footwork here
A balance ball. A goalkeeper’s core strength and balance is essential. This is great for pre activation warm up which gets the smaller muscles firing before working the big ones which leads to less imbalances.
Storage shed or box. (not shown) To keep everything tidy and to save equipment from the elements
Bands. To improve leg strength
Video camera & tripod – To film those practices and learn from mistakes
Pinnies / Bibs for when your friends want to come and play for a 3 v 3 plus goalkeeper session
There is certainly no excuses for this young goalkeeper to be the very best they can.
I was recently sent this article about the need for Arsenal to purchase a new goalkeeper in the close season, but not any goalkeeper – one with the perception of being excellent.
Here is a quote:
“Place a top-class forward in front of a goalkeeper whom they perceive to be beatable, and the chances are they will beat them. However, put him one-on-one with one of the greats of the modern goalkeeping game—the ranks of which the likes of David De Gea and Thibaut Courtois have so impressively swelled in recent years—and there are other thoughts that will suddenly go through the attacker’s head. Minds will be scrambled and chances lost.”
The article claims that it is not necessarily the ability of the goalkeeper, but their reputation that leads forwards to second guess and possibly snatch at a chance that a lesser goalkeeper would have saved anyway.
This leads me to ask two questions……….
How are you perceived as a goalkeeper?
What is your reputation, and how do you get one?
There are three group sets that will be making judgments on you as a goalkeeper.
Here is a list of things that affect how you are perceived as a goalkeeper.
What you look like. By this I mean your attire. Are you dressed like a goalkeeper? Are you wearing a goalkeeper’s jersey? Are your socks pulled up and laces done up?
The condition of your gloves. There is an old saying that “A good workman looks after his tools”. Which implies that lack of care and respect for fine instruments and equipment says a lot about a workers’ attitude to the work they are doing. Your work is keeping the ball out of the net. Your tools are your goalkeeper gloves. Look after them. Not only will a pair of looked after gloves be kinder to you, you are perceived to care about your tools and thus your work. [Check out the latest L1 Goalkeeper Gloves here]
A good warm-up, Pre-game or at halftime ( if subbing in ). The importance of a good warm-up is stated in this article [ The goalkeeper warm up ] Your teammates, your coach, and the opposition will all, at some point, take a look at your warm up. A good coach would either have the team warming up on their own or have an assistant do the warm-up which allows them to look at the opposition’s weaknesses. Your warm-up says a lot about who you are, both in what you do and how you do it. If you are doing an organized warm up with either the substitute goalkeeper, a teammate or coach you prove that you and the club are organized and that you are prepared for all the elements of the game. A good quality in the warm-up will not only provide you with confidence, but your teammates and coach will feed off the positive energy that a good warmup provides.
Movement up and down the field. It is important that you stay connected with your back line to provide good angles of support. It mystifies me that parents are mortified if and whenever a goalkeeper steps out of the penalty box. For coaches, it is a sign that the goalkeeper is aware of the space behind the defenders. An old coach told me to imagine that you are connected to the last defender by a piece of string…. when the defender goes up the field, so do you. I went on a recruiting trip with Yale assistant coach, Marty Walker who was looking for a goalkeeper on his list. We got to the field, saw that the goalkeeper was on her line when the ball was in the oppositions half and said to me “Come on, let’s go!” [See the things that college coaches are looking for]
Arrive early. If you are worrying that you will be late, or what coach will say, or wondering if you will not start the game because of your arrival time, you are taking time away from thinking about the game. You do not want to be the kid running to the field all flustered. As a goalkeeper, you should project calmness and authority. This can not be done if you are rushing. By arriving on time, you can be prepared by checking out the field conditions, see the goals and warm up appropriately.
Take your own goal kicks. Recent studies of the college game show that the goalkeeper is only in possession for 4 minutes of a 90-minute game. An average of two and a half saves for females and three saves for the male game. That 4 minutes includes the 82% of play that is now with a goalkeepers feet. [See the trends of the modern game here] Can you imagine waiting, standing and not touching the ball and then the ball goes off for a goal kick? You go to get the ball, and then someone comes and takes your goal kick. That makes you a glorified ball boy or ball girl!! It means your influence on the game is even less. If you are not comfortable taking kicks, you need to practice or work with your coach on strategies to play out of the back. [See this article on striking a ball from the floor] By not taking goal kicks, there is a perception of lack of quality, lack of confidence and the encouragement to the other team that there is one less player on the field to receive the kick.
Make saves look easy. As goalkeepers, we love to dive around. There is a fine line in the perception of the goalkeeper making this kind of save. In one hand there is admiration that the goalkeeper has been able to make the save, but as people get more educated on the position, the aim has to be to make the save look as easy as possible. You do this by making clean saves. Good technical ability is key for this, ensuring good footwork and body shape. There can be something quite soul destroying for the opposition to know they have hit their hardest shot and you just plucked the ball out the air looking so comfortable.
Eliminate mistakes from your game. All the good work that you have done to provide a good first impression, such as arrive early, look the part, have a good warm-up etc can be undone in the first few minutes of a game if the first thing you do is a mistake. You give the opposition the opportunity to think that maybe you are not as good as they first thought. Ideally, you will eliminate mistakes throughout the whole game, but make things easy for yourself by holding off as long as possible. The best goalkeepers make the least mistakes.
A reputation is earned by the collective perceptions over time.
By ensuring that you do these nine things on a regular basis you will earn the reputation of your teammates, coach, and opposition of being an asset to the team. It will help in proving consistent good performances and the ability to pull off the odd great save.
Here is a checklist of goalkeeping equipment ( apart from the obvious ones ) that all goalkeepers should have.
Goalkeeping hat – Used less these days but important none the less. The use of a goalkeeping hat with a long visor is important to keep you from having to frown throughout the game. Used primarily when the ball is in the oppositions half.
Thermal undergarment – A dedicated goalkeeper will be practicing and playing in all weathers. It is important that you are able to perform to your best at all times, and if you are freezing cold, this is hard to do.
Compression Baselayer leggings – Worn by all my college goalkeepers and also seen when watching pro’s train. These compression leggings provide a good base layer for all conditions to protect muscles and restrict abrasions from the floor surface.
Baseball slider shorts with padding – Essential for any goalkeeper playing on turf or rough ground. These can be used instead of goalkeeping pants or in addition to. The tight fit stops abrasions on the upper leg.
Sweet spots – For goalkeepers that struggle to keep laces done up or those that find that the loops of the laces are so big that it could lead to tripping.
Thin sweatshirt – Not only does this long sleeve garment keep you warm during those colder days, the extra layer under the goalkeeping shirt adds bulk to make you feel physically bigger. The extra padding that the sweatshirt provides also helps take the sting out of those harder point-blank shots. Ensure that you can still move freely, however.
Glove Glue – After being skeptical, I have to say that it serves its purpose of revitalizing partially worm gloves.
Squeezy bottle – reviewed here. Vital for keeping gloves damp and ensuring mouth is moist for communication.
Foam roller – I love my foam roller. Great for getting into tight hip-flexors used when kicking and glutes used when diving. Great for stretching out the back and the IT band which every sports player suffers from tightness.
Soccer Pump – Practice as you mean to play. If you are practicing with a flat soccer ball, it does not relate to how you would save in a game and reduces the effectiveness of the practice. Be ready to pump other people’s balls up too.
Muscle roller stick – Small enough to fit in a kit bag. Roll out those tight hamstrings and quads on the go either before, during or after a game or practice to invigorate and stretch out a couple of the biggest muscles in the body
Stretching strap – Every goalkeeper I have coached has tight muscles. This strap is perfect for all sorts of stretches, not just the hamstrings which seems to be the tightest.
You may have heard me ask if you have wet your gloves?
There are two reasons;
1) It helps make them last longer as dry, brittle latex comes off the glove easier than wet latex.
2) It helps the ball stick to the glove better.
See here for how that happens.
The latex foam has tiny holes, exactly like a kitchen sponge. The holes are small and brittle when dry, but when you get them wet, they expand and get bigger and softer (just like a kitchen sponge again). The tiny holes then act as tentacles like an octopus has. Spit will do the job, but water is easier, a little more hygienic and does not result in your mouth getting dry.
3 – Be a student of the game. At Goalkeeper HQ, we believe there are three pillars of coaching. Evaluation, Knowledge and understanding and repetitions. By having a practice canceled, you are only really missing out on the repetitions. You can evaluate yourself or other goalkeepers by watching a game or highlights if time is short. You can gain knowledge by reading up on goalkeeping. Try typing a topic in the search bar to the right of this page and see what goalkeeping article comes up. You can even take one of the Goalkeeping HQ Education courses here.
When watching a game, look out for positioning, different distribution techniques and range of goalkeepers coming for crosses.
4 – Get your equipment in order. Wash your gloves, clean your boots, rinse your water bottle, check the quality of your gloves, size of undergarments etc. Ensure your equipment is not an excuse for poor performance. You can purchase the new L1 Goalkeeper Gloves here.
5 –Get a cardiovascular work out. People think goalkeepers are lazy. We should be one of the fittest members of the team. Use this off time to get the heart pumping. If you can’t get to the gym, give yourself a routine that can include stair runs, Jumping Jacks, Burpees, High Knees, Push ups, and sit ups. Do each for 1 minute with 30 seconds rest in-between. Do each routine three times.
6 – Get your homework done. The extra time off might be the perfect opportunity to get your homework done. By getting it done, you can fully focus on your game or next practice without stressing about project deadlines for school.
7 – Catch up on some sleep. You are up early for school, you put your heart and soul into practices and games three to four times a week, some of you even play other sports. If you are tired, use the additional time off to catch up on some sleep and be back to your best when games and practice resume. See the article “ The importance of rest during downtime”
8 – Practice ball skills. Goalkeepers need to be comfortable with the ball at your feet. Use the time to be comfortable with the ball at your feet. You can practice in a 5×5 area. Top taps, foundations, inside & outside of the foot, figure 8 using inside & outside of feet, turns etc.
For an indoor goalkeeping challenge, try this from one of our goalkeeping challenges.
9 – Research your opposition. Check out your league wwebsiteto see who you are playing next. Where are they in the League? How many goals have they scored? Who is their best goal scorer?
10 – Fill out your self-evaluation. How did you play in the last game? Where can you improve? What was your distribution success rate? How many goals that went in were your fault? Are there any trends in the goals that go in? – i.e. balls to left, crosses, 1 on 1’s?
Having worked at the enjoyable, yet very hot Goalkeeper HQ camp at Yale University last week and having worked with individuals through the one on one sessions this week in very humid conditions, the one thing I found was the lack of a sports bottle from each of the goalkeepers. There were sports drinks in their original twisty caps, there was water in rock climbing bottles…..again needing twists and from my observation not much control over how much water comes out at once, and lastly there was a flask which needed the lid taken off before a twist action was needed to access water. None of these items were kept in the goal, which is where the goalkeeper is standing.
These observations inspired me to write the 5 reasons to carry a squeezy bottle with water for games and training.
1 – Water is what you need if you are thirsty. You need water by your goal. You will need it to hydrate. Lots of small doses at a time. Keep the bottle in a place you can access it. ( i.e. in the goal )
2 – Gloves get dry. Wetting them provided better grip. A small squeeze provides the right amount of wetness in a quick action. No turning of caps with gloves on and balancing the bottle enough so that you don’t soak your gloves, and then trying to find the cap which went on the floor and then trying to pick said cap up off the floor with gloves on. [See the article on wetting gloves]
3 – If you are doing your job correctly in goal, you will be providing good communication. In doing so you are likely to get a dry mouth. A quick squeeze of water into the mouth allows you to continue to do your job communicating.
4 – Speed is key. As a goalkeeper, you need to live every moment of the game. A quick squeeze when the ball is out of play on the other side of the field does not detract from your focus on the game.
5 – A squeeze allows for no mouth contact… These squeezy bottles were designed for helmet sports where the bottle can’t reach the mouth. This is good for hygiene purposes if your defenders need to hydrate during the game. Dealing with a corner or during a goal kick is often a good time when an otherwise flagging defender can get much-needed hydration. You never know… your help could mean the difference between a defender not being able to get to a ball and getting to a ball.
Here are some of the features of the squeezy bottle I have been using. It has a gage of how much liquid is in the bottle, it has grips on and is shaped for easy pick up off the ground and has a one-way valve with no lid so you can squeeze away with no need to lift anything, bite anything and has no leakage.
It’s amazing how many goalkeepers are not able to give their best performance at tournaments because they are not prepared. Here is a list of things to be ready for when traveling to a tournament, and in some cases be seen by college coaches.
1 – Clean your gloves prior to the tournament.
Get all dirt particles out of your gloves by putting them in a pillowcase and throwing in the washing machine. After the cycle, leave palm up out of sunlight. If you are not comfortable putting them in the washer, you can use glove wash or better still, bring out those new L1 Goalkeeper gloves for that new glove feeling.
2 – Read up on when / who you are playing in the tournament.
Check, and double check your times. This will help you in deciding when to eat, how much rest you are likely to have and what type of field you are likely to be playing on (Turf/grass). Be aware that most tournaments don’t have their final schedule out until 3 days before the start – Be aware of any changes.
3 – Pack extra goalkeeping equipment and have in a separate smaller bag.
Hat to avoid eye strain when looking into sun, squeezy bottle to wet gloves during and in between games, tape to ensure shinguards don’t get in the way of kicking. Have pants on hand if the goalmouth looks hard or rocky. Read up on all the equipment you might need but maybe don’t have. You can purchase goalkeeping equipment here.
4 – Read the article on exercises to do to warm up before a game.
How many minutes each way? Sudden death penalties? Throw in’s or kick-ins? Tiebreaker based on goals scored v Head to head? – This will help you to dictate the pace of the game.
6 – Look the part.
Ensure you look professional by having your shirt tucked in, socks over your shin guards and have your laces tied. The phycology of looking like a quality dedicated goalkeeper will help you in a game as you feel good and the opposition will be less confident in scoring a goal.
7 – Communicate.
With coaches – To see what style of play they are looking for ( Play out from the back / go long )
With defenders – When the ball is in the air / behind the defense. More info here
8 – Fill out the match analysis form provided in previous e-mails.
Contact email@example.com if you don’t have one.
This helps you to think about what was good, bad or ugly about your previous performance and gives a mental reminder of what you need to do better in the next game. If a parent or coach can provide the stats on the bottom of the page, even better.
9 – Know your penalty strategy.
Your strategy of saving a “one-off” penalty should be different to a penalty shoot-out.
I thought I would post some hints & tips that I have given my Goalkeepers throughout the years.
1 – Have gloves that fit you correctly.
More than any lack of grip due to the foam latex being worn, it is the size of the gloves that often lead to poor handling. Too small and the hand is restricted …. unable to get a grip around the ball.
Too large and the excess material gets in the way of getting a good feel for the ball.
3 – Ensure boots are the correct size, they are done up tightly and laces do not come undone during games or practice.
4 – Speak to your coach about preferred distribution techniques.
Some coaches prefer that the goalkeeper roll to feet, others would rather clear the lines. Much also depends on current result, time in the game and confidence of players on the field….. and of course the consistency in quality of your various distributions.
5 – Keep up to date with an archive of coaching notes. Many coaching notes can be found on this blog at www.GoalkeeperHQ.com
6 – Have tape to keep shinguards in place.
This prevents the shin guards sliding down the leg and getting in the way when making kicks. The tape should also be used to keep socks up. Constantly pulling up socks and adjusting shin guards is not only a distraction, but causes the latex on the gloves to become worn. You can purchase electrical tape in the “Products” page. Another option is the protective sock by Storelli.com…. not only do they provide protection to the lower leg, they allow you to slip your shinguard in. See the product here and don’t forget you can get 20% off a product by typing “Leon” in the coupon code at checkout.
7 – See a chiropractor.
Goalkeepers are renowned for having poor posture. Constantly bending down and being in the “Set” positon leads to hunched shoulders. This, along with the constant bashing our bodies take by diving on the floor lead to sublaxation of the spine, which of course protects the nervous system. Chiropractors often offer a free assessment.
Diet is a difficult thing to control as a child and parents often make decisions based on cost, time available to prepare, and family taste. Every family will have different pressures and each individual has different things work to help them create muscle whist reducing fat.