Place Yourself in the Center of the Goal and Be Big!
Playing goalkeeper is often one of the toughest and overlooked positions in youth soccer. While coaches effectively work on passing, shooting, and dribbling drills, the goalie is often left floundering about with the peaceful knowledge that he or she may use their hands. But as the last line of defence, shouldn’t a bit more emphasis be placed on how to improve one’s skills as a goalie? Here are some tips to help limit the amount of goals that come in while you’re in between the posts:
Place yourself in the center of the goal based on the angle of the approaching striker. This is of huge importance for any goalie. When a forward player is closing in on the goal, they will look up to find a place to shoot for. You need to be right in the middle of their line of vision. So if they are attacking down your right side, slide over to the right and narrow their target.
With tight angles, the width of the goal will actually shrink and you will be able to cover more of the goal, especially if you place yourself in the center of their target. Covering this area is especially important for when the player actually takes a shot as well. You will be best placed to make a diving save and in many instances the player will simply shoot right down the middle, right at you!
Another important factor of successful goalkeeper play is to be big. No, you don’t have to start chowing down on potato chips in order to gain weight, but you should make yourself an imposing presence in the goal. When a striker comes bearing down upon your goal, spread your arms out wide. This helps in a lot of ways.
First, having your arms spread out will enable you to block more shots as your arms will already be in position to make a diving save. Those precious milliseconds that it takes you to get your arms up in position can often be the difference between a save and a goal.
Just as important as being more able to make a save, being big in a goal also makes scoring much more difficult for an opposing forward. The player will make their run, look up, and have to decide where to shoot the ball. When they are faced with an imposing goalie blocking up the entire center of the goal, the striker will have little choice but to aim for the sides of the goal in an effort to beat you. Although a great striker will usually be able to master that task and blast the ball past you and into the side netting, a youth player will often freak out and push the shot wide, and your team will get a goal kick.
Playing goalie is as much about positioning and confidence as it is about actual skill. Therefore, take care of the easy parts by creating a large figure in the goal and utilize smart positioning of yourself in the center of a striker’s view in order to make saves and make your opponent miss.