First outdoor practice session for the younger group of keepers, the weather was merciful. To dust off some of the inevitable rust, we worked on the basics for younger keepers – catching, footwork and communication.
We finished the session with a game of “keeper frisbee” – see below.
Youngers keepers – 2007-2010
The session points for this session;
- Footwork – against cones, make the save
- Communication – coming out for a ball on the ground
- Footwork – In pairs – hoops and high catching
- Flight of ball – in pairs, set up for a cross into a crowded goalmouth
Finished off with 15 mins Keeper (American) frisbee
Youngers keepers – 2007-2010 – Session Details
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.
Communication – coming out for a ball on the ground
Defender at the “top of the box” is shielding the ball, not having touched it. They are hassled by an attacker. The defender calls and the keeper comes and gathers the ball on the ground. The keeper calls “keeper” as they arrive.
This drill simulates a typical situation in a game, and helps build cohesion between defender and keeper. The keeper learns to be vocal, and to judge the danger from coming for a ball which is shielded by the defender.
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.
Judging the flight of the ball – In pairs
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.