“Goalkeepers. Go do your thing, and when we are ready come join us. “ How many times as a goalkeeper in our careers as a player and coach have we heard this ? In my case; too many to mention here .
Translation- “ Goalkeepers. I either am not comfortable; or do not know how to properly integrate you into my lesson plan “.
This is a big problem in the youth game, but it doesn’t have to be. In order to come up with a solution we need to first tackle the “Why’s” .
1. Lack of knowledge of the position - Many team coaches did not play in goal, and therefore don’t know much about the technical and tactical aspect of the position.
2. Fear of giving misinformation; based on lack of knowledge - This lack of knowledge leads to a worry that you may give bad information or insight on the position; that will have a negative impact on your goalkeeper in competition.
3. Disconnect between goalkeeping staff and the team coaches - At many youth clubs; goalkeeper coaches function as an island away from the teams. Without truly knowing what the goalkeepers need to work on ; the team coach is left to “leave it up to the keeper coach” , and just utilize the goalkeeper as a shot stopper at training or during scrimmage.
4. Misunderstanding the necessity of incorporation- Many youth coaches don’t realize how important to their team’s development; proper training incorporation is. This leads to the most damaging disconnect. Between goalkeeper and team.
So now that we know why; we can tackle how to solve. Here are some solutions I’ve found to be successful.
Note: When running clinics for team coaches keep it simple. Focus on the tactical element of goalkeeping and how to work better with the backline. (Show them how to coach the goalkeeper as a member of the backline and not a separate entity) Leave the technical aspect to the keeper sessions.
2. Provide the resources to send goalkeeper coaches to training sessions/games. - Ex:
As a young coach I once worked at a club where I only saw the goalkeepers during training sessions. One day; a parent asked me to come and watch their daughter play in the game . I went and watched; and even gave some coaching at halftime.
The next week the team coach said to me he had never seen her working so well with her distribution.
It dawned on me; that I did not recognize this weakness in her game; because the team coach and I never communicated ; nor was I ever present to see her in actual games/scrimmages.
From that moment on; I realized that in order to provide full on development of the goalkeeper; clubs must make the sacrifice to employ their goalkeeper coaches for game days or periodic training sessions. Much the same way a speed/agility coach can be brought into a team practice once a month; have a goalkeeper coach come in and run a training session or assist once a month. :)
3. Get in goal! - Ok I’m not asking team coaches to become Buffon; but take the initiative and hop in the net with a rec team; or your club team or pick up ; just however you can to see the field the way the goalkeeper sees it. You’ll be amazed, and how differently you’ll coach your goalkeeper when you see the world from their eyes :)
Overall there is no clear cut way to solve this dilemma, but if the team coach; club staff, and goalkeeper coach all communicate properly and work together; it’ll make for a more productive time for all your goalkeepers. Best of luck!
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