Diving from a kneeling position – improving the Catch when diving

Young keepers often have a problem with diving. They usually fear the impact when they hit the ground, or dive with insufficient training and hurt themselves. In this post we propose an easy drill to build the skill of catching while diving, without the full impact of a dive.

If you’ve ever coached really young (8-9) year old keepers, you’ll be wondering what we’re talking about. Most love throwing themselves around, and if they like being keeper at all it’s because they can “make a dive”.

Well pretty soon all keepers will make one of the those dives that hurts, and makes them think twice. If they’re not coached the correct way to make a dive soon they’ll develop habits which make catching and securing the ball more difficult.

This drill begins that process. It’s important to get them catching and securing the ball before they learn any of these bad habits.

The keeper starts in the goal, on their knees facing the coach

The coach faces the kneeling keeper and makes a throw or shot close enough to the keeper to allow a catch.

The keeper will simulate a dive, but by rolling the hips and catching the ball with both hands. By tucking the elbow in rather than lowering it towards the ground, the ball is easier to catch. Pull it into the chest to complete the save.

The keeper goes from kneeling (shaded red) to diving to make save

Diving from a kneeling position prevents the need to dive fully, and cushions the impact on the hips and knees. A full blown dive requires the body to hit the ground from about twice the height. This can cause injury if not practiced with the right training and care, even on the softest surfaces.

But even if the keeper is comfortable diving full length from standing, they often use their arms (elbows) or hands to cushion the blow, which makes catching the ball much harder. This soon becomes a habit or reflex.

By starting the keeper on their knees and perfecting the catch and clutch-to-chest first, there is a greater chance they won’t develop that bad “arm down” habit.

Also, it’s common for keepers to have a “favorite side” to dive. In other words, they dive with greater ease and comfort on one side, relative to the other. This is not as simple as preferring a “hand” – ie being right handed, left footed, etc. It can be the opposite side (eg a right handed player prefers to dive to their left hand side).

This drill can help improve the “weaker” side, and make the keeper more “two-sided”, having similar ability diving to the right or the left.

Tips for coaches – Confidence Cohesion Technique

Any coach can utilize these drills with their keeper. The objectives are the same – enhance footwork, follow the ball better with the eyes, and judge the flight of the ball.

A coach can use any one of the drills independently, and involve multiple players, especially attackers, to sharpen their skills too.

Try to encourage the keeper to use these skills – their footwork, their eyes and reflexes, and be brave to make the judgement calls and decisions that will come up regularly in games.