Most kids try to avoid it, and either they are volun-told or are brave enough to volunteer for the position. Goalkeeper. Even from the youngest age it takes some serious guts to get in that big goal and stand tall when a forward is barreling down toward you and a ball is headed straight for the net. If your child is one of the few who choose to be the last line of defense, then here are a few quick tips to get them started on the right path to success.
A SAVE IS A SAVE
No matter how they do it, if they stop the ball from going in the net then they’ve done well. Especially at such a young age it’s important to give a round of applause when a kid makes a save. It will help to improve their confidence in the goal (which is critical for every goalkeeper at all levels), and it will create a more positive experience when they step in the goal for each game.
IT’S ALL IN THE FOOTWORK
Start off with some simple footwork patterns. They want to be light and quick on their feet. Some cones or a speed ladder would be preferable, but if you have shoes lying around (or anything really) those will work as well. Here are some good examples of footwork patterns your child can do. Obviously you want to start as simply as possible until they become comfortable, and if that means going slow at first then so be it. But once they have the rhythm down they can speed up. Footwork is very important for a goalkeeper because it makes them quick in there movements, and they will be able to get from one side of the goal to the other fast, as well as the top of the box. All in all, quick footwork equals success and at every level it is stressed as an important asset.
When kids are little they may shy away from the ball, but even if you have a daredevil whose ready for anything that comes their way you still want to emphasize for them keep their hands out in front of them when the ball is nearby. If an attacker has a chance to shoot or go for goal then they want their hands ready for any shot or opportunity for the ball to head for the net. If they start with their hands in front of them it takes less time for their hands to meet the ball, whether on the ground or in the air, than it does for their hands to start down by their sides and come up for a high ball. It’s a good habit to begin when they’re young, so be sure to stay on them for it!
PRACTICE MAKES…AS CLOSE TO PERFECT AS POSSIBLE
At the end of the day your child isn’t going to turn into Hope Solo or Tim Howard overnight. The best that they can do is keep working at it, and even with the things they struggle at, with enough practice they will be quickly overcoming those obstacles and moving on to newer and harder ones. As I’ve been told before, goalkeeping is a special position. It takes hard work, dedication, and persistence to constantly be adapting and getting better. With the right amount of effort and patience your child will be saving shots left and right.