Goal Keeping Ages 5 - 9

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With info from Soccer-Coach-L

 


Protecting the Goal - But you're not alone-

The main goal for this age group is to protect the goal. Make sure you remind the younger players that they are a team! No one is out there all alone. Many times at this age, the kids don't want to be goalkeeper because they feel as if they alone are responsible for any goal made against their team. Stress that all the players work together to stop the opponent from scoring a goal!


Spend time on what to do after the goalkeeper gets the ball. Teach the kids not to panic. Lots of kids in this age (and older too) want to get rid of the ball as soon as possible. Teach them to catch the ball, take a deep breath, let the traffic clear, and then distribute the ball. U-8 and younger you probably want to kick, throw, or whatever the ball as far up field as possible. When you reach U-9, you can probably start adding other options, if the field players have sufficient skill to retain control of the ball after the keeper gets it to them. If the field players lack skill, then its still best to blast the ball up-field.

Assuming that practice time is limited, I would suggest a few sessions as follows:

  1. For the whole team go over the rules for keepers.
  2. For the whole team demonstrate proper catching. Divide the team into pairs and let them practice catching. Walk around and make necessary corrections.
  3. Above is probably 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Set up shooting/keeper drills and rotate all kids into the goal. Keeper teaching points are catching technique and what to do after the ball is caught.
  5. During scrimmages, place emphasis on what the keeper should do with ball after the save.

 


There are three key points for training young keepers:

  1. Don't blame keepers for giving up a goal.
  2. The coach MUST stay calm when the keeper has the ball. Too many coaches panic and start screaming "GET RID OF THE BALL." If the coach panics, there is no way to expect the kids to stay calm.
  3. Remember that young kids have a short attention span and may be studying the bugs on the field while the ball is headed for the back of the net. Don't let this bother you.

Technique Training Exercises

During most warm-ups the coach can include some Goal Keeper work with the field player's workout. Some suggestions are:

All players are dribbling in an area. The designated Goal Keepers are jogging around and call for a ball from a dribbler. The dribbler makes a ground pass to the Goal Keeper who runs through the pickup and returns the ball to the dribbler. The coach could make this a team-wide exercise--the Goal Keeper that picks up the ball now is a dribbler and the passer becomes the Goal Keeper. As the skill level increase, the dribbler can "shoot" a catchable ball at the Goal Keeper.


All players are passing and moving in pairs. The designated Goal Keeper calls for the ball from a dribbler who passes to his partner, who "shoots" a catchable ball at the Goal Keeper. The Goal Keeper distributes back to one of the players and finds another pair to receive a shot; or the Goal Keeper distributes to and pairs up with the original dribbler as the shooter becomes the new Goal Keeper.
The above exercises could be where only the Goal Keeper has the ball and distributes to a player for a one-touch return or a pass over to his partner for a shot on the Goal Keeper.

Goal Keeper play can be incorporated into passing warm-ups and exercises. For example, in pass and change lines, the Goal Keeper can use this exercise to pick up ground passes. At times, the passer may "shoot" a ball off the ground for the Goal Keeper to catch.

Specific training for youth Goal Keepers should start with basic catching technique. Coaching points include:

  1. Hands move together, both behind the ball; the thumbs should be close, the index fingers slightly turned towards each other.
  2. Elbows are in front of the torso and close together
  3. Hands are forward and fingers high on the ball
  4. The Goal Keeper should constantly be bouncing on the balls of the feet and moving the body behind any balls to the side
  5. The hands move together for all catches; if the ball is below the chest, the hands should be extended and turned to where the little fingers and sides of the palm are touching; the elbows especially should be very close on this catch
  6. On a ground pickup, the Goal Keeper should step one foot beside the ball, lower one knee close to but not touching the ground behind the ball and scoop the pickup, continuing in a forward run after the pickup (this is called running through the pickup)

 
Sample exercises include:

  1. 2-man pass and catch
  2. Short ball serve, followed by a high ball; the Goal Keeper should be made to move forward, then backwards
  3. 2-man pass and catch with moving side to side or forwards and backwards
  4. Goal Keeper in the middle with 2 servers alternating
  5. Goal Keeper forward pickup with server moving backwards laying ground passes off at different angles
  6. Goal Keeper sit-ups with ball, coach kicks ball as Goal Keeper brings it forward; this is to teach proper hand position and give the Goal Keeper confidence in his grip

Footwork is the next area of Goal Keeper training. Sideways shuffling between cones or quick steps forward and backwards between cones is the first part. The youth Goal Keeper should be taught to move from post to post in an arc that extends about 2-3 yards out from the centre of the goal. This can be taught with two servers that are positioned several yards out, say at the top of the penalty area and wide of each post. As they pass the ball back and forth, the Goal Keeper moves on his arc.

Forward movement can be taught with a gate several yards in front of the Goal Keepers arc. Balls are played from some distance so that the Goal Keeper can pickup the serves before they reach the gate. If you have a couple of Goal Keepers, a fun exercise is to have a "goal-line" that is as wide as a goal. Place two gates a couple of yards shorter than the goal width about 3-4 yards in front and back of the goal-line. The Goal Keepers take "shots", beginning with ground balls, from the servers in front of each gate. After each "shot," the Goal Keepers trade sides and catch the next serve before it passes through the gate. Another footwork exercise is to have a server on the side deliver a low ball to the near post; immediately after the Goal Keeper makes the save, they move back to the far post for a high serve.

While diving is not appropriate for the younger age groups, we'll take a quick look at it anyway. Teaching basic diving technique starts with the Goal Keeper sitting on the ground. The Goal Keeper should hold the ball and fall to one side and plant the ball. One hand should be behind the ball, the other hand on top of the ball. The elbow and forearm should not be touching the ground.

The next step is to fall from a squatting position. If the Goal Keeper continues to land on the elbow and forearm, then have the player put his hands together in a praying position and fall. Then have the player fall holding and planting a ball. The ball, the hip and the shoulder should be the only areas that touch the ground. The ball should be planted first, followed by the hip and shoulder almost together.

From a standing position, the player should squat and fall. This teaches the knee bend required. From here, the player should take an angled step with the near foot, lowing the near hip and then falling, planting the ball. At each of the above stages, move from the Goal Keeper holding the ball to the Goal Keeper catching a served ball.

Once the dive mechanics are understood, the Goal Keeper must be shown the final position to protect the body. The ball and forearms should be in front of the face. The top knee should be driven forward to almost touching the top elbow, this will protect the torso. The bottom leg should be extended and raised slightly.

When comfortable enough, have the Goal Keeper make consecutive dives to one side on served balls across the goal mouth and then zigzag dives forward from the goal mouth to the top of the penalty area.

Finally, the Goal Keeper should be taught distribution. Though last in this list, distribution can be taught early on. When playing catch, have the Goal Keeper do 3/4 overhead tosses. The Goal Keeper must cup the ball in one hand (which is difficult for some of the younger players to do). The ball should be delivered just lower than straight above the head and the body and head should be as tall as possible.

Another distribution technique is the volley kick (or punt). The initial stages can again begin with playing catch. Have the Goal Keepers serve the balls with short volley kicks. The closer to the ground they can kick the ball the better. This moves to the full volley kick where the Goal Keeper should drop (not toss in the air) the ball with the hand opposite the kicking foot.

A young Goal Keeper may not be mature enough to understand the angles involved with playing the Goal Keeper position. However, the coach can start to reinforce the idea with a 100-150 foot rope tied to each goal post. As the apex of the rope moves, the Goal Keeper will be given a visual layout of the path of a shot to either post.

A drawn arc out from each post to a couple of yards from the goal center will show the Goal Keeper, the path he should travel when the ball moves from one post to the other. The point is to get the Goal Keeper off the line a little bit when the ball is in the center and to cover the near post when the ball is on the side.

Coming out to pick up a ball or close down the angle is a skill that requires lots of experience. Playing balls into the area with an attacker running on but well within the Goal Keeper's capability of getting to them will help establish the Goal Keeper mentality of coming out. Playing balls to an attacker where the Goal Keeper cannot get there first will hopefully train the Goal Keeper that there are ball he must stay back on. The coach must work with his Goal Keeper to establish his range. This training should include kicking the ball away if the Goal Keeper has to play it out of the penalty area.

The rule of thumb for coming out is, if you are sure you can get to the ball first, then go for it, else, hang back and look for the next touch by the attacker to be your ball.

 


Footwork is the next area of Goal Keeper training. Sideways shuffling between cones or quick steps forward and backwards between cones is the first part. The youth Goal Keeper should be taught to move from post to post in an arc that extends about 2-3 yards out from the centre of the goal. This can be taught with two servers that are positioned several yards out, say at the top of the penalty area and wide of each post. As they pass the ball back and forth, the Goal Keeper moves on his arc.

Forward movement can be taught with a gate several yards in front of the Goal Keepers arc. Balls are played from some distance so that the Goal Keeper can pickup the serves before they reach the gate. If you have a couple of Goal Keepers, a fun exercise is to have a "goal-line" that is as wide as a goal. Place two gates a couple of yards shorter than the goal width about 3-4 yards in front and back of the goal-line. The Goal Keepers take "shots", beginning with ground balls, from the servers in front of each gate. After each "shot," the Goal Keepers trade sides and catch the next serve before it passes through the gate. Another footwork exercise is to have a server on the side deliver a low ball to the near post; immediately after the Goal Keeper makes the save, they move back to the far post for a high serve.

While diving is not appropriate for the younger age groups, we'll take a quick look at it anyway. Teaching basic diving technique starts with the Goal Keeper sitting on the ground. The Goal Keeper should hold the ball and fall to one side and plant the ball. One hand should be behind the ball, the other hand on top of the ball. The elbow and forearm should not be touching the ground.

The next step is to fall from a squatting position. If the Goal Keeper continues to land on the elbow and forearm, then have the player put his hands together in a praying position and fall. Then have the player fall holding and planting a ball. The ball, the hip and the shoulder should be the only areas that touch the ground. The ball should be planted first, followed by the hip and shoulder almost together.

From a standing position, the player should squat and fall. This teaches the knee bend required. From here, the player should take an angled step with the near foot, lowing the near hip and then falling, planting the ball. At each of the above stages, move from the Goal Keeper holding the ball to the Goal Keeper catching a served ball.

Once the dive mechanics are understood, the Goal Keeper must be shown the final position to protect the body. The ball and forearms should be in front of the face. The top knee should be driven forward to almost touching the top elbow, this will protect the torso. The bottom leg should be extended and raised slightly.

When comfortable enough, have the Goal Keeper make consecutive dives to one side on served balls across the goal mouth and then zigzag dives forward from the goal mouth to the top of the penalty area.

Finally, the Goal Keeper should be taught distribution. Though last in this list, distribution can be taught early on. When playing catch, have the Goal Keeper do 3/4 overhead tosses. The Goal Keeper must cup the ball in one hand (which is difficult for some of the younger players to do). The ball should be delivered just lower than straight above the head and the body and head should be as tall as possible.

Another distribution technique is the volley kick (or punt). The initial stages can again begin with playing catch. Have the Goal Keepers serve the balls with short volley kicks. The closer to the ground they can kick the ball the better. This moves to the full volley kick where the Goal Keeper should drop (not toss in the air) the ball with the hand opposite the kicking foot.

A young Goal Keeper may not be mature enough to understand the angles involved with playing the Goal Keeper position. However, the coach can start to reinforce the idea with a 100-150 foot rope tied to each goal post. As the apex of the rope moves, the Goal Keeper will be given a visual layout of the path of a shot to either post.

A drawn arc out from each post to a couple of yards from the goal center will show the Goal Keeper, the path he should travel when the ball moves from one post to the other. The point is to get the Goal Keeper off the line a little bit when the ball is in the center and to cover the near post when the ball is on the side.

Coming out to pick up a ball or close down the angle is a skill that requires lots of experience. Playing balls into the area with an attacker running on but well within the Goal Keeper's capability of getting to them will help establish the Goal Keeper mentality of coming out. Playing balls to an attacker where the Goal Keeper cannot get there first will hopefully train the Goal Keeper that there are ball he must stay back on. The coach must work with his Goal Keeper to establish his range. This training should include kicking the ball away if the Goal Keeper has to play it out of the penalty area.

The rule of thumb for coming out is, if you are sure you can get to the ball first, then go for it, else, hang back and look for the next touch by the attacker to be your ball.