Learning Goalkeeping From the Back, the Front, and In a Different Sport
Throughout my coaching career I have heard it said hundreds of times that “It’s good to learn the game from the back.” And, nothing exemplifies this further for me as a Just4Keepers Coach in Washington State than watching our young goalkeepers in classes have the foot skills that field players do. In addition, coaching players who have never played soccer is just as much of a joy, bringing in a passion for learning as well as knowledge from another sport.
So, what does J4K do that is so enjoyable for all athletes? Well, nowadays with goalkeepers being more like “sweeper-keepers” ala Manuel Neuer as discussed recently in The Guardian more and more players are seeing that the goalkeeper is in fact an extremely skilled position. At Just4Keepers, Washington we understand that goalkeeping requires very technical footwork that enhances balance as well as multiple techniques that improve eye-hand coordination and instinctual reactions which are the cornerstones of not just being a good goalkeeper, but a good soccer player, a great athlete, and more importantly, more healthy in the long run.
Moreover, USSF encourages coaches not to specialize positions, rather “As far as positions are concerned, players should learn the game based on principles of the game rather than positions on the field.” In addition, many soccer players not only play other sports, but areencouraged to enjoy other activities by experts athletic trainers. I love having the opportunity to bring young athletes to soccer who play football, basketball, or baseball, and watch them light up with the joy of applying the skills they already know to goalkeeping, and actually being pretty darn good at it.
We should encourage our players to learn the game from the back. But we should also encourage our athletes to learn the game from the front to the goal line as well as from off the sidelines. Remember folks, Tim Howard was a star striker and basketball player through his high school career.