It can be frustrating if you feel like you’re putting in a lot of effort and not seeing the improvement that you thought you would. It’s even worse if you’re a parent and you are paying a good chunk of change to send your kid to training camps, buying equipment, etc. Those aren’t bad things and are all important. Good gloves, for example, are extremely important.
But if you aren’t seeing much improvement despite all the time and money invested there may be a few things that you can work on to help you or your child become a better, more consistent keeper.
Everybody has bad habits. But when you’re trying to prevent that ball flying at you from hitting the back of the net, these bad habits can be disastrous for your team.
This is a serious problem with keepers and is something that can potentially lead to you being dropped from a team if you aren’t up to scratch.
You and your coach need to take a real look at the bad habits that you have developed over time. The good thing is that if you can identify your bad habits then chances are you can take the steps to eliminate them and replace them with proper technique and good habits. Sure it can be boring and it takes time, but it will pay off in the long run if you’re really serious about being a goalkeeper.
Not mastering the basics
Yes, the basics ARE important. Very important, in fact. Lots of younger keepers think it’s better (or at least more interesting) to focus on making those “wonder-saves” that we see on TV all the time. They want to make those incredible saves, but ignore the basics that are required in order to make those saves.
Things like positioning, footwork and hand position are beyond important and you will never become a successful, consistently good keeper if you don’t master those basic principles. Sure you might make a few good saves, but you’ll generally reach a ceiling where you find that you aren’t matching up to the competition.
Not playing enough
This is a simple one but it’s crucial. The more practice you get, the better you’ll be. Crazy right? A couple of hours a week at training sessions or matches is simply not enough. You need to be OBSESSIVE about how much you play and practice. Play every spare minute you have, focus on the basic principles that we mentioned above and you will be amazed at how much you improve.
If that means not doing your homework or flunking school, that’s fine as long as you get in those hours on the pitch. Besides, have you seen how much a soccer player gets paid these days?
And yes, that was a joke before any angry parents start emailing us... :) Stay in school kids.
This obviously requires you to be in love with the game. If you’re not in love with what you are trying to do then you will never put in the required effort to be the best you can be.
I think it’s also important to point out that everyone will have their own talent ceiling. Sure some people may be more “naturally-gifted” when it comes to goalkeeping but that doesn’t mean anything without the correct training and constant reflection on your performance.
And for those of us who are “less naturally-gifted” then you just need to work that bit harder on yourself and your technique. It doesn’t mean you can’t be an incredible keeper.