As the match races to the final minutes, your team has the lead, but now your opponents are racing towards you on a counter attack.
Every goalie has been or will be in this position.
After nearly 90 minutes of hard work from your teammates and yourself, the entire match comes down to a few crucial seconds. How you play them will decide whether your team wins, loses, or kisses its sister.
These soccer goalie tips will help you take your game from “great effort” to “great win.”
If you are not the tallest or fastest goalie, it can be intimidating and discouraging to feel like your body is holding you back.
Luckily, a huge part of a goalkeeper’s job is to win the mental game.
By using your brain, and preparing accordingly, a goalie is not limited to their size. Just ask the greats like Silke Rottenberg and Jorge Campos.
Soccer Goalie Training: Our Top 4 Soccer Goalie Tips
What do architects and goalkeepers have in common?
They both must understand and anticipate angles. Good goalkeeper positioning will create favorable angles for the goalie.
First, ensure that the near post is protected. This is the most vulnerable spot for an attack. Likewise, when a good position from the keeper forces an attack on the far post, the shooter is left with a very difficult and narrow angle.
How do you guarantee such advantageous goalkeeper positioning?
Easy (easier said than done).
Maintain a position in which the ball line runs through your belly. The ball line is the imaginary line running directly from the ball to the center of the goal.
If it runs through you, you are splitting the shooter’s windows, giving him/her the smallest targets possible. Again, great positioning and command of angles will set you up to make the play.
In a nutshell
Without these tools, great athleticism and size are worthless. With these tools, average size can shut down even the best attackers.
There is a bad (or some would argue it’s good) joke that begins with the request, “ask me for the key to comedy.” As the other person begins to ask, the joker interrupts by declaring the answer to be timing. Terrible joke. Yes. But it is also one of the best goalkeeping tips.
The most important thing for a keeper when preparing for a save is to match the attacker. Slow moving keepers will be outrun by fast moving attackers, while over zealous and speeding keepers will be shaken be patient attackers.
In other words
By acting as a mirror to the attacker, you will be able to make the play at the best time and position.
Once the attacker is poised to shoot, you face a moment of truth, so the two most valuable goalkeeping tips on diving are to:
2) Preserve form.
You must wait because a jumpy goalkeeper that leaves their feet too soon risks giving up an embarrassingly open shot to a cautious shooter. Commit as late as possible to give yourself plenty of time to react and adjust.
As for form, many keepers with forget their hand technique once they are airborne. Keep the “handcuffs” on your wrists and throw them out together. If you throw them out separately and try to bring them together as you dive, you are likely to suffer the misfortune of allowing the ball to sail right through your hands and into the net.
Lastly, do not second guess yourself. Whatever you decide, trust your instincts and play it 100%. Even if it is poor timing, you may be able to salvage the play by committing fully to your decision.
Vince Lombardi (Green Bay Packers American football coach) famously observed that “the measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.” He may never have played soccer, but his truth is pertinent for any worthwhile collection of tips for goalkeepers in soccer.
Regardless of your skill set, soccer goalie training is rigorous and repetitive. You must train your body so that it can immediately let muscle memory take control when making a play in order to free your brain.
What this means is
Your focus should be on coverage, angles, and anticipating your goalkeeper positioning.
If you have to focus on your form and technique, the play around you will feel overwhelmingly fast.
Believe it or not, good endurance and technique will actually slow the game down for you. This allows you to set up saves on your terms, rather than being forced to constantly react to attackers that are one step ahead.
4. Unscripted Action
There is strength in diversity, and I love borrowing from other sports (hence the Lombardi quote).
John Wooden (UCLA basketball coach) is another legend who rises above his sport. One of his practice strategies was to give his players as much game like simulation and scenarios.
This is even more important for soccer goalie training.
A goalie has more variables to worry about than the NASA scientists planning the next mission to Mars (probably). These variables include, but are not limited to, the strengths and weaknesses of the attackers, your defenders, and yourself, the speed of the attacker, the speed (or anticipated speed) of the shot, where the shot will come from, the trajectory of the shot, your positioning, and even the field itself (accounting for mud, divots, and other areas that could impact a player or the ball’s movement).
Feel like a lot to account for? That’s because it is.
However, the best goalies do not run through a huge list of variables. As the great Chinese Admiral Zheng He once advised, every battle is won before it’s fought.
The best soccer goalie training features plenty of diverse and unscripted live action. Anything can (and will) happen in the game. The best way to prepare for this in practice is to set up countless possible game scenarios, with dozens of potential matchups and situations.
As you challenge yourself in practice with different attacks, you will begin to recognize them in the game. Ideally, you will have seen every possible look. This will take years, but persistent and diverse practice in live, unscripted scenarios will expose you to more combinations of that swarm of variables we noted.
Like anything, experience for goalkeepers is invaluable, and such practice habits will provide you with scores of hours to rely on when you hit the pitch on gameday.
Summary: How to be a good goalie?
These soccer goalie tips allow you to take control. If you want to know how to be a good goalie, focus on your angles and timing. Establish yourself as a mental force to be reckoned with.
Furthermore, practice makes perfect. Heavy repetition will strengthen form and free your mind to see field. If you throw plenty of unscripted game scenarios at yourself, you will be ready for anything when the clock races to the finals minutes.
Ultimately, it is up to you to decide whether you make that last save to close the match for your team, or you fall short after ninety hard minutes.