Young goalkeepers are rarely good with their feet, especially when they start out. Yet today, coaches make greater and greater demands on their keepers. Some would even like them to play as the 11th outfield player, or “sweeper keeper”. So we usually spend some time on “kicking” as well as “positional” footwork. In this section we approached “punting” the ball from hands.
When the keeper has the ball in their hands, the temptation is to distribute it quickly – perhaps too quickly. Rushing this opportunity to distribute the ball safely, and begin a transition to attack, is a waste.
Instead, work on the principle that the main opportunity to distribute the ball quickly (immediately) is when we have it at our feet, and can pass the ball to a teammate safely, switching play.
Similarly, if there is an opportunity to throw the ball to a teammate quickly, and safely, then take the opportunity. But the distance you can throw the ball is severely limited compared to the potential to punt.
Most good keepers can throw the ball 10-15 yards accurately. Even a novice can punt, or drop-kick a ball 30-40 yards, easily making the half way line.
So we recommend that beginner keepers take a 5 second pause with the ball in their hands, while making their way quickly to the edge of the penalty box, and gaining at least one deep breath. When at the edge of the box, by all means give the ball a hard punt. But make sure you’re composed, relaxed, and steady.
Most bad punts are the result of hurrying the action. The ball is thrown awkwardly, ending too far from the body, and the keeper is off balance when they make the kick.
Take a deep breath, steady the body, balance the “standing foot”, firm up your “core” belly muscles, and throw the ball up in the air slightly, just in front of the body, while swinging the kicking foot back, then forward towards the ball.
Make sure the action “drives through the ball”, continuing the swing after the ball is on its way.
Try to achieve some height, but not so high that you sacrifice distance. The higher the ball goes, the less far forward it’ll travel, and vice versa.
There is no substitute for practice. Just get a couple of balls, stand in front of the goal, and practice punting into the goal. The net will prevent spending hours retrieving the ball.
Then go to the edge of the box, and run with the ball towards the goal, and upon reaching the 6yrd line, punt the ball into the goal. This is the opposite of what you’ll do in a game, but the distances are the same and you use the net to help retrieval of the ball. This will help practice punting.
Above all, don’t expect to get this straight away – persevere. And when you do a “bad punt”, don’t let it get into you head. Follow the procedure for the next one, having already forgotten the last one. Pause 5 seconds while gaining ground to the top of the area, then steady yourself and take he punt.
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.