Selecting the Right Goalie for a Youth Soccer Team
The goalkeeping position is quite possibly the most important player on the soccer field. A great goalie can keep you in any game, where as a rather poor goalkeeper can leave your team behind three or four goals in matches that you compete well in. Therefore, who should you pick from your youth team to take a place in between the sticks to best support the squad?
Most players will not want to be the goalie. It is basically like playing a totally separate sport; There is little foot play, your probably not going to score many goals (unless you fall victim of an own goal), and often times they are singled out for blowing a game with an error. Their mistakes hold far more weight than any other player, so the position requires a great deal of mental strength.
Therefore, ask for volunteers to play the position. If you have an aspiring goalie on your youth soccer team, then you are in luck. Without this luxury, you will have to make players on the team take turns, and simply hope that someone enjoys the position. For games, you can rotate players each game and have each play a half so they can get some outfield playtime as well.
But there are some traits that you should for if you have to make a determination between multiple players. One is height, especially at the youth level. Most players cannot reach the crossbar of the goal and so height is a huge advantage for young goalies. They can simply take up more space in the goal.
Another trait to look for is reactions. Can your goalie “feel” where the shots will be placed and can he or she react quickly to dive and block shots? This is probably the most important skill required for a goalie. The best have cat-like agility and can soar across goal to block any shot.
Also, one of the most crucial aspects of the job is an element of crazy. What is crazy: The desire to get the ball no matter what. The goalie may have to punch someone in the head to punch away a corner, or he or she may have to take a few shots to the face, and still be able to get the ball. That element of sacrificing your body for the goal is the mark of the supreme goalie. They also need leadership qualities and must be able to direct players around the field with confidence. If you want to see a true pro goalkeeper perform at his finest, take a look at former Germany international, Jens Lehmann.