If Last Line Goalkeeping Academy is about one thing, come to a session and it won’t take long to realize – Everything is about Fundamentals!
We try to break the goalkeeping fundamentals down to this:
- Set Position
- Hand Position
- First Step
Footwork: Goalkeeper footwork is an often talked about, mostly passed over topic of intense training in young and inexperienced keepers. Just because goalkeepers use their hands, it does not mean that our hands our the most important. The best keepers make everything “look easy.” The way they do this is moving effortlessly in and around their box. A goalkeeper needs to be as quick as the Grand Prix and as graceful as the Ballet. Consistently training footwork in the right way will allow you to find this balance of speed and grace. Consistency is the KEY to footwork. Building and repeating safe movement patterns as a keeper is something we take very seriously. These movement patterns will help you get into position and move as the ball travels, preparing to make the safe as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Set Position: Being prepared in a Goalkeeper’s “set position” gives us the highest probability of making the save. You MUST aim to be set and ready before the shot comes. Each and every set position is slightly different dependent on the goalkeeper age, size, stage of development and individual preferences. Keep in mind that as keepers age, the set position is modified in relation to playing style and/or physical attributes. Some keys to the Set Position that need to be highlighted for young keepers:
- Feet “shoulder width” apart
- Knees bent to appropriate angle where your “bum” is over your heels
- “On your Toes” which means the weight on the balls of your feet
- Strong Core with back straight
- Hands up in your personal “ready position”
- Eyes up and engaged with the potential shooter
- Scanning the surroundings and our position in relation to the goal
Hand Position: If you watch 100 different goalkeepers, you will find and identify 100 different hand positions. There are several classes of hand position and surely recommendations of hand position depending on the distance and angle of incoming shot, but again hand position and comfort is often relative to an individuals anatomy and preference. The key again is consistency and being able to routinely find your hand position and target the ball to make the save with both hands. You comfort and consistency in hand position is what gives our “hand-eye” coordination a chance to work. If your hand position is not consistent, your mind and body will not be able to process the shot complete saves quick enough.
Try different hand positions as you go through your development stages and growth. Keeping in mind and be conscious of things that many do not think about in relation to your hand position that have a huge affect on consistency and ability to secure the ball.
- Tension in back and shoulders
- Angle of bend/tension in elbow
- Flex of wrist and strength of forearm (injury prevention)
- Curve of individual fingers
- Angle/Position of Thumb (injury prevention)
First Step: When we first started teaching fundamentals, we focused on the first 3 above and quickly moved into shot stopping once we felt keepers had a firm grasp on the fundamentals. In game situations, we began to realize that young keepers were ready for a shot and completely capable of making a save, struggled to get to a ball that they would routinely save in training. We started to assess these moments in an attempt to isolate the problem. What we found in watching our keepers and keepers outside the academy was that young keepers, even that of the highest level, struggle to link their Set and Ready Positions to the actual act of “Shot Stopping.” Picture a talented writer who has writer’s block so their pen never touches the page. We have since developed is more specific training to link them to their movement and get them over this Goalkeeper “writer’s block” and into the save quicker. This has translated significantly into goalkeeper performance and making it easier for a young keeper to display their shot stopping potential during game situations.
IF you (as a keeper) or your child has a problem with this “First Step” we invite them into the academy as our youth and intermediate keepers work heavily on the quickness, size, and single leg strength of this First Step. A clean first step out from the set position insures that we get into stopping the shot as quickly as possible without any wasted time, energy or loss of position in relation to the strike. The First Step out of our Set Position often can determine the fate of our save attempt. It must be clean, confident, quick and efficient and is driven by our power leg.
Anything beyond that first step, strays beyond the fundamentals of goalkeeping here at last line. We believe in the importance of learning the fundamentals in a safe, fun environment. If you have been a part of a session or seen one up close, you know the fun and intensity in which we attack the fundamentals. If you have not, come watch us work!