If you or your child regularly participates in soccer programs or youth soccer tournaments, you probably know how important a goalkeeper’s job is. A goalie can often determine the outcome of an entire game with a single, quick decision. Although goalies do get certain privileges other players don’t — they’re the only ones who get to use their hands during play and they have a great view of the entire field — there’s also an immense amount of pressure involved in this position. If you’re looking to increase your general knowledge and learn soccer skills to help you succeed in your role as a goalie, here are 10 tips to get you started:
- Keep your eye on the ball
While you’re expected to be able to multitask while in the goal box, you essentially have one objective: keep your eye on the ball. Don’t be distracted by your opponent. You need to know where the ball is at all times in order to keep the other team from scoring.
- Stay focused
When you learn how to play soccer as a goalie, you need to stay focused at all times. Don’t wait until the ball gets close to you to start paying attention. Monitor the ball and the game play at all times.
- Don’t wait in one place
When dealing with a one-on-one situation, you need to have the upper hand. Don’t wait for your opponent to make the first move. Instead, run towards your opponent and make your body as big as possible. This will catch your opponent off-guard and will require a quicker reaction.
- Read body language
As a goalie in a youth soccer league or soccer training program, you’ll need to develop the ability to read body language. This can help you to anticipate your opponent’s intentions before they ever complete a move. If you’re able to identify what your opponent is going to do, you’ll always be two steps ahead and ready for anything.
- Adopt an effective “ready” position
You need excellent positioning to be a great goalie. To achieve a comfortable athletic stance, stand feet apart with knees and elbows slightly flexed. Your elbows should be a little bit away from your body and your hands should be out in front of you. Stay a bit on the balls of your feet, rather than your heels, in order to make moves more quickly.
- Develop hand-eye coordination
Having good hand-eye coordination is key for anyone who wants to learn soccer skills, but it’s particularly important for goalies. You need to be totally focused on the ball while using your peripheral vision to keep track of activity around you. Your body also may need to be accomplishing an entirely different task in order to effectively guard the goal box. Practice ball drills with a partner to help you develop this skill.
- Cultivate fast footwork
In your quest to learn soccer skills for goalkeeping, you need to focus on your footwork. While other players move up and down the field (often traveling as many as five to seven miles per game!), goalies need fast feet too. You have to be able to move quickly and your feet need to be able to react in a split second. Practice side-to-side shuffles and crossovers — these are the two types of moves you’ll use the most in game play.
- Improve your jumps
Jumping can be a critical move in matches. If you can jump high into the air, you’ll have a better chance of blocking those tough, higher shots. Concentrate on developing your leg, feet, and gluteus muscles for better jumping skills.
- Exercise good judgment
As you gain more experience, you’ll gain better judgment for making quick decisions. You’ll learn when it’s a good time to catch the ball with your hands and when it’s better to use your chest. If you’re not in a good position to use your hands, you should use your feet — but only as a last resort. Only practice can help you learn soccer skills you need for successful play.
- Be confident
Above all else, have confidence in yourself! Don’t be afraid to make a move or to defend the goal — you’ve got this. You’re bound to make mistakes, but the important thing is to learn from them for the future.