Friday, July 6, 2007

JT's Blog - Making a Save May Save Your Game - July 6

JT's Blog will be a weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog. John Thomas "JT" is the Assistant Director of Coaching Education for US Youth Soccer.

Which player on the team wears a different uniforms from the rest in a soccer game and why?

Mainly it's to tell the goalkeepers from the field players. During a game, the goalkeeper certainly stands out. He or she will get the credit for a brilliant save and most of the blame for a goal being scored against the team. It can be awfully lonely if you make a mistake in goal. When a field player makes a mistake, the consequences aren’t nearly as bad. If the field players didn't make all of their mistakes the keepers job would be easy, but is that how it normally goes?

The padded shirts, gloves and padded shorts help protect the goalkeeper. The best protection for the goal is good old fashion practice. The most important tool for the keeper is his or her hands. No matter how good you are at all of the other goalkeeping skills, sooner or later your hands will let you down if you have a problem holding onto the ball.

You may not be able to stop every shot that comes your way, but if you make the attempt, you will stop shots you never before thought possible. Your teammates will gain confidence in you because they know you’ll try for everything that comes your way, and on the times that you just happen to miss, they’ll forgive and forget.

Keepers should as often as possible, use their feet to get their body behind the flight of the ball creating a second barrier to the goal, just in case the first barrier (the hands) lets you down. Try to stay on your feet because once a goalkeeper has committed to go to the ground he or she is basically out of the game. The longer you stay on your feet and delay the opposition player, the more you put pressure on him to make a mistake. Only go to the ground when you know you are going to get the ball or a piece of it.

Do not anticipate, react or fall back instead keep your shape. If a goal is scored against you, a corner kick is given up, or the shot is a near miss, do not yell at your teammates, hang your head, kick the ground or the goal post even if it was your fault. Be a leader in one of the most important position on the field.

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