To dust off some of the inevitable rust, we worked on the basics for both younger and older keepers – catching, footwork and for the first time, disorientation.

This is a clinic, with both older and younger keepers.

In this session we brought them together for all three session points.

Youngers keepers – 2007-2010 and Older Keepers – 2001-2006 together.

Three session points for this session;

  • Catching – high balls from crosses 
  • Footwork – using hoops and cones, and catching/shot stopping
  • Disorientation – introducing 360 degree spins into exercises.

Session Details

Catching – in pairs – catching a thrown or kicked high ball

This is a variation of the basic hoop 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.

skip through hoops then do a 360 degree twist to face coach

Once through the hoops, the keeper has to do a 360 degree twirl or spin, to face the coach. They will then pass a ball along the ground. The keeper passes it back.

return a pass from coach

Once returned the pass, the keeper does another 360 degree twirl, but in the OPPOSITE direction to the first twirl. Then the keeper moves across towards the target/goal and catches a high throw or shot.

then do a 360 degree twirl in the opposite direction, before moving across and making save.

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 throws 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.

The 360 degree twirls act to disorientate the keeper, inducing slight dizziness. This will act to make the brain work faster, when trying to locate the final throw/shot.

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.

A variation is where the coach shoot or kicks the ball rather than throws high. This makes the challenge harder.

Footwork – in pairs – skip through cones and make save. 

Lay out 6 cones in a line. Keeper skips through the line, then turns towards the thrower/kicker, and makes the save. Alternate after three goes.

The ball can be thrown or kicked depending on the skill level. The important feature of this exercise is footwork, and making the save.

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.

keeper moves from far to near post then catches a high ball thrown by coach

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.