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.
As I walk past games or watch opponents I'll commonly hear the words "Great Save!" being yelled from the sidelines. Except....it wasn't. The ball was batted away and it's popped out for a rebound, or now the team is dealing with a corner kick when all the goalkeeper had to do was catch the ball.
Why are coaches not encouraging their young players to catch the ball? I understand that when we watch TV or live matches many top goalkeepers will parry the ball around the post, but grassroots is not the EPL. The ball isn't travelling anywhere near the speeds or have the same types of dips and swerves that professional goalkeepers are facing. Realistically we're not teaching our youth goalkeepers one of the most important building blocks of goalkeeping.
Catching is a foundation for all goalkeepers. We should be spending hours at training just catching the ball. Learning to punch or parry the ball away should come later on in development, preferably after a player has shown the consistent ability to catch in all situations. This refers to clean catches without bobbles for low balls, volley, and high balls. This should also expand to catching at these levels well moving their feet to get the head and body behind the ball, and furthermore being able to catch low and mid height shots when diving. Only then should a player be encouraged to parry a ball.
When a player is taught to parry or punch every ball that comes their way first, this becomes a bad habit. It isn't utilized correctly and can become detrimental to the team.
Some young players may respond with "but it didn't go in". They're correct the ball did not go in the goal. And if we were playing a game at BC Place in front of a sold out crowd I would probably tend to agree with them that the fact the ball didn't go in is a great thing. But sadly we're not. We're working with grassroots players who are at the very beginning of their goalkeeper development. My focus is on attempting to do the right things and develop, regardless of the outcome. Eventually the outcome becomes important, but by this time they will have a strong base to build upon.
Goalkeeper's need to develop too. The results should not influence negative development. When a player has grown and is mentally capable of understanding the difference between the two types of saves, and is facing shots that aren't possible to catch, then by all means take them to that next step.
But please remember, one of the most important parts of goalkeeping is Catching.
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