One of our favorite warm up drills is two keepers skipping side to side between the posts, passing to each other. It helps to “see the ball” and warm the hands, as well as getting the blood flowing. In this drill we add in a 360 degree twirl or pirouette between catches.
There is a keeper on the line near one post, and another keeper, or the coach, acting as a server, standing opposite them. The keeper takes one step then immediately performs a 360 degree twirl, before facing the server who has also taken a couple of steps to remain in front of the keeper.
Once the keeper is facing the server/coach, the server throws a pass, either high or low, which the keeper catches.
The keeper then throws the ball back to the server, and begins another 360 degree twirl.
There should be room for two 360’s and a step between them, from one goalpost to the other. In the below diagrams, we’ve shown the “twirl” of the keeper by showing shaded images as well as the “final” image.
At the other post, the server/ coach throws another pass which the keeper catches, then returns to the server/coach and they begin the whole exercise going the opposite direction.
After 3 attempts in each direction, they switch keepers to prevent too much dizziness.
The drill improves the footwork and the hands, while also challenging the brain, in terms of inducing dizziness and disorientation.
A slight additional challenge can be inserted by asking the keeper a brain test question, as we discussed here.
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. Exercising the brain should be a core part of all soccer practices, forcing the athletes to make decisions under stress.
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.