We discussed catching here, but as well as making the appropriate hand-shape, it’s crucial to adjust your hands quickly as you judge the flight of the ball.
In this note we’ll discuss how to speed up your reflexes and judgement, and we show an example of a goalkeeper adjusting his hand-shape rapidly, going from a “W” to a cup and making the save.
Quickly adjusting the hands – an example
In a recent game between Arsenal and Manchester Utd, the Arsenal keeper Leno was called upon to make a snap save from a shot from just outside the penalty area.
Here’s the shot and save, in slow-motion. Watch how Leno’s hand-shape changes radically as he judges the flight of the ball.
If we look at each segment of his actions, we can see he begins with his hands high and starts to make a “W” hand-shape
As the ball moves towards him it dips slightly, and Leno realizes he would be better off making a cupping shape with his hands and arms.
See how quickly he moves his hands from the “W” shape to the cup shape
Finally he catches the ball in his arms making a cup shape, and falls on the ball to ensure it sticks.
How your coach can help.
The skill of adjusting the hand-shape quickly, to give yourself the best chance of making a catch, takes a lot of practice.
Firstly practice making the different hand-shapes without a ball, in the different zones, as we described here.
Then try turning away from your coach, and make a hand shape, say the triangle above your head.
Have your coach shout “turn”” then have them throw the ball to you at a different height to your hand-shape. So if you chose a triangle, high above your head, have them throw the ball lower, forcing you to switch quickly to the W or the cup. Try to make the catch.
This drill will improve your reflexes, and force your brain to adjust the hand shape quickly.
Finally, to make it harder, have the coach take shots rather than throw the ball, again, at a height different from your chosen hand-shape.
This is an important skill, and is worthy of a lot of practice.