As the winter snow begins to thaw, young keepers come out of their normal hibernation – ski racing, snowboarding and all the winter sports.
To dust off some of the inevitable rust, we will work on the basics for both younger and older keepers – catching, footwork and communication.
This is a clinic, with both older and younger keepers.
We’ll keep them apart for the bulk of the session, bringing them together at the end for a game of “keeper frisbee” – see below.
Depending upon numbers in each group, we’ll breakdown the session into the following;
Youngers keepers – 2007-2010
Three session points for this session;
- Catching – high balls in pairs
- Diving – sitting and dive catches in pairs
- Footwork – against cones
Older Keepers – 2001-2006
Three session points for this session;
- Footwork – In pairs – hoops and high catching
- Handwork – Individually throw ball over shoulder towards ground and catch with two hands
- Flight of ball – in fours, set up for a cross into a crowded goalmouth
Finish off with 10 mins Keeper (American) frisbee if there’s room and time.
Youngers keepers – 2007-2010 – Session Details
Catching – in pairs – catching a thrown or kicked high ball
Set the keepers up in pairs, about 5 yrds apart. Give each pair a ball, and have them throw the ball to each other at varying heights, to make the catch. Explain the various hand- shapes required, and score the catches. winning pair is the ones with least “drops”.
Vary it by allowing “gentle” kicked shots, from 7-10 yards.
Diving – in pairs – from sitting, dive and catch
Keeper starts sat down, facing thrower, who throws a wide ball for the keeper to “dive and catch”. Keeper then flips back to sitting and passes back for another.
Try five attempts then switch.
Footwork – in pairs – skip through cones and make save.
Lay out 4-5 cones in a line. Keeper skips through the line, then turns towards the thrower, and makes the save. Alternate after three goes.
Older Keepers – 2001-2006 – Session details
Footwork – In pairs – hoops and high catching
We began with the usual footwork exercise, where the keeper skips between 8 hoops laid in pairs on the floor, hoops number 5&6 set further apart, followed by a passed ball which they either pass back, or trap, and finishing with another ball thrown over their left shoulder to try to catch or punch.
This exercise is excellent for developing footwork precision. If your feet aren’t planted carefully inside the hoops you’ll soon find yourself “hoolahooping”. This encourages the brain to switch from stepping to ball control. A typical movement when playing sweeper-keeper.
Ideally make a catch, but some are too difficult and require a punch out of harms way. Having a small 6 aside goal behind focuses the keeper’s mind, but it’s not essential.
After 5-6 goes each, the keepers are all warm and sharp. Now it’s useful to move onto aligning the eyes. Try the other side – over right shoulder.
Handwork – Individually throw ball over shoulder towards ground and catch with two hands
This exercise improves hand control and catching. Hold the ball in one hand above the head, then throw towards the ground. Get the other hand easy to catch, and catch the ball with both hands.
Try the other arm as well, or alternate. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, and will sharpen the hand-eye co-ordination as well as the catching technique.
Judging the flight of the ball – In threes or fours.
The final session point of the three, flight of ball, improves both catching and confidence in crowded goalmouths. The footwork also needs to be sharp and decisions need to be made.
With a shot, cross or free kick, the ball is often seen late, and can be high and rising towards the top corner, or low and on the ground, spinning and swerving into the bottom corner. The keeper has a moment to judge the flight and adjust their position and body shape.
To simulate this challenge, and sharpen this technique, we have 2-3 play “obstructions” – defenders or attackers that are initially static. They are just to give the keeper something to think about. Place them opposite both posts, about 5yrds out.
Have the keeper move from the far post towards the near post. This simulates a striker threatening the near post. Then have the keeper move between the “obstructions” and catch a high thrown “cross”.
Have them take the ball as early and as high as possible.
They need to judge the flight of the ball as soon as it leave the coach’s hands.
Vary the “crosses” – some long and high, past the second far “obstruction”, some short and in front of the near “obstruction”. Occasionally throw the ball into the goal, catching out a clever keeper who’s already on their way between the obstructions.
Make sure the catches (or punches) are clean and precise.
But most of all watch the keepers eyes and feet. Judging the flight of the ball is essential. If the keeper’s too near or too far when it drops they won’t have a chance. This takes good eyesight and decision making. The two earlier drills will have sharpened the eyes to make those judgements quickly.
But also watch the feet – they need to move quickly and precisely, to arrive at the best point to take the high ball as early and safely as possible.
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.