The Forgotten Keeper
Sometimes as a goalkeeper or goalkeepers parent you can feel like your alone on an island. Keepertec has your back and feels your pain. Remember that without a goalkeeper, soccer would be a very boring and pointless game.
Being a goalkeeper is a special skill, and because of such it requires special training. Unfortunately it's often a forgotten position or an afterthought. We steer our athletes to “glory” positions such as striker or central midfield, we teach our youth that being in goal is only for the “weird kid” or the one who doesn't want to run. Parents are afraid that their child will become injured, get bored, or not have fun as a goalkeeper. But our soccer community couldn't be more wrong.
Well I can accept the fact that “weird” ones do usually inherit the position, the rest of our developmental approach is misplaced in regard to our youth goalkeepers. If you look at two of the best goalkeepers in the world, Hope Solo and Manuel Neuer, what stands out as the top reason they're considered the best? They are both extremely athletic!
In using their athleticism they've developed their technique in a different way than any other player on the pitch. They've dedicated their time to repetitive catching in controlled environments, they've focused on footwork, balance and power in their movements, and both show great confidence with the ball at their feet. These players demonstrate what's truly needed to become a great goalkeeper in todays game.
So why don't coaches and parents look for similar attributes in our young players and encourage them to try being a goalkeeper?
At the 8v8 grassroots level, scoring goals seems to be more important than stopping them. This approach is learned by players, parents and coaches alike. And because of it, nobody want's to be a goalkeeper. At times there are kids who raise their hand to play the position, only to be told they're needed up front to score goals for the team instead.
We should be taking our athletes and all who put up their hand, and teach them to be a goalkeeper at a young age through specialized training. We shouldn't be leaving them to figure it out on their own. They may not have success with figuring it out, and then we've potentially lost a great goalkeeper.
If you have a player who shows an interest in the position and thinks it's fun, help them feel successful by finding and supporting these players in goalkeeper specific training. Trust me, you'll be thankful you did. Because these grassroots players will eventually grow up, and everybody else will be struggling to find a goalkeeper who can keep their team in a game by making saves.
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