At What Age Should You Be A Permanent Goalkeeper?

So I have just been motivated to write this blog by a blog by Sean Darcy on players playing in goal for convenience rather than because of want and his club policy of no permanent goalkeepers until Age 11. 

This topic, of course, is controversial and led by the governing body, but here are my opinions & experiences. First question.

1. When should a goalkeeper play permanently in goal?

Whenever he wants and what age he wants?

Why are we putting restrictions on such a specialized position? I'm sure most goalkeepers will agree you are born a goalkeeper. I know I was. I never played anywhere else and don't even know how it started? It was a long time ago. My early memories were 6 years old and the main achievement was to get as muddy as I could before being hauled in for tea.

Fun that's what is was diving about trying to save balls going in between the posts and stopping my mates from scoring. Replicating the goals and saves from Match of the Day on a Saturday night was the training session we did every week and it worked. We tried to replicate the style of our favorite goalkeepers of the day (Shilton & Clemence being prime examples) No academies, no goalkeeper coaches just motivation of an individual who wanted to be in goal. Why should you stop that?

2. No permanent Goalkeepers until 12 years old!

What a great idea NOT!!!!!! The most productive period for learning core skills is 9-12 years old so lets just waste those years by the goalkeeper not being allowed to go in goal, get coached the basics, getting fed up playing outfield because he doesn't like it and quitting football altogether because it's not Fun anymore and he is not being coached correctly. Well done the Fun Police! (governing bodies & coaches)

Goalkeepers by the time they are 12 should be proficient at set, angles, attack & basic decision making. Currently, the goalkeepers I get to trail at 12 are not that's if I'm lucky enough to have any who are goalkeepers. That is about to change at my club! This means we spend at least 2 years fixing bad habits they have got into and that is hard on both goalkeeper and coach and may be too late in some cases.

There is a Young Goalkeeper in the North East, UK called Aaron who is 8 and has decided he wants to be England's No.1. This kid is so dedicated see his Twitter here
Are you going to tell him he can't be a goalkeeper until he is 12?

3. Players should try all positions!

The argument of players playing in all positions. Yes let them if they are undecided in Under 8's and 9's but goalkeeping is a specialized position. At the start of the year, all players (or majority) should do one session with a goalkeeper coach teaching the basics. From that, you are sure to find a few with basic skills. Use them as goalkeepers during the year. Play them a full game, not half a game. Half a game I don't like to use for goalkeepers. In some cases, we have to use that but I would always rather a full game. Goalkeeping is all about concentration and making saves and you will learn more as a goalkeeper and about your goalkeeper with a full game.

What about if they play permanently as a goalkeeper up to Under 12's but when they get to junior & adult football the stereotype of  'He is too small to be a goalkeeper' kicks in. If this happens then please read my blog on this here and keep playing as a goalkeeper. Yes, players change position all the time. Some goalkeepers are not goalkeepers until they are 16 and 17 but if they want to be a goalkeeper. Why stop them?

4. The size of the goals!

Yes, we all know the size of goals is too big for goalkeepers, especially when they jump up to Under 12's. Credit to the FFA (Australia's governing body) who have actually put together a 'Managing the Expectations of the Goalkeeper'  which explains how much of the goal the goalkeeper should cover with stopping shots. What it doesn't seem to take into account is Angles & Attack for young goalkeepers. Kids learn about angles at school. Young goalkeepers are terrified of being chipped! They are not terrified of conceding a goal on the floor nearly right next to them! It should be the other way around.
To me, a chip is a great goal, not a mistake. A goal conceded just next to the goalkeeper could be classed as a mistake.  I always say to my goalkeeper. "Would you rather offer 3 options to score or 1?" You can guess the answer.

So teach angles and moving closer to the ball 'attack' as the striker moves closer to you! See a video on this here

5. How to find a goalkeeper. Young!  

In my experience, most players don't want to go in goal because they don't know what to do?
It scares them. They don't want to be responsible for letting the team down with little to no coaching. Just 'stand there and try to stop it'

A few years ago at the start of the season at my previous club, I got all the 10-year-olds and put on a 3/4 hour goalkeeper session. ALL of them. I made it fun taught them set position and angles and from it had 5 kids want to try to be a goalkeeper. They had confidence, fun and we had potentially 5 new goalkeepers for the season. Never saw them again and we didn't have a goalkeeper coach at that age so not sure how it went but it was a good start.

I actually did a blog recently on Star Signs of a goalkeeper read that here and you could use this method to trail potential goalkeepers. Ask who was born when! You may be surprised!!

Federations really need to look at a 'Goalkeeper Roadshow' promoting the position at Schools

Source: Goalkeeper Manual

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