This article was written by Sean Connors, Rush Soccer’s Global Goalkeeping Director.
“T.E.A.M. – Together Everyone Achieves More!”.
“There is no I in Team!”.
However, there is only one player on the field for each team that can use their hands.
Everyone can recognize that the goalkeeper position is unique to the game of soccer. The uniform is different. The equipment is different. Clearly the rules are different, and what it takes to be successful in the position is different to that of every other player on the field.
To be the best goalkeeper coach you have to balance the individual needs of each goalkeeper on a team, or the individual needs within a training group. There is no “one size fits all” approach that will give you as much success as being aware that each goalkeeper is different and needs to be treated as such.
Recently I had the chance to speak with Goalkeeping Director Mike Kappas from Virginia Rush, and Goalkeeping Director Matt Stueckle from Washington Rush where we spoke about this exact situation.
“Making an individual connection starts when the GKs arrive at training. Taking time to greet each GK, handshake/fist bump, and checking in to see how they are doing. How is school? How is your family? How were your games this weekend?”.Mike Kappas – GK Director at Virginia Rush.
These individual meetings allow Mike to get a read on how they are doing at that exact moment and gaige what they need from the training session. Learning the needs of the player encompasses both emotional and physical needs. Maybe the GK did poorly at school, or took a bit of an injury from the weekend.
Coaches must make these types of connections to best know how to meet the needs of their players.
“Within a training session the coach must be aware of individual struggles. It might be with a certain technique, or making a save from a particular position on the field. What if during the session the GK is in the same position over and over again trying to get reps to improve but the ball keeps going in the net? The risk is it can reach a point where mentally it is crushing the player making them think they are terrible and can’t stop the ball”.Matt Stueckle – GK Director at Washington Rush.
In these cases what can a coach do?
Coach to the individual! Try to change how you are teaching them. Can you demonstrate the technique differently? Can you change the language used? Have a fellow GK try to explain it to them. In some cases the GK needs to be pushed further and can handle being challenged. Other GKs will need to move on from the situation and come back to it at another time.
Get to know the Goalkeepers and work to teach them at their level! The better you can address each individual the more success they will have.