Sean Connors is Rush Soccer’s Global Goalkeeping Director.
The Goalkeepers job at its core is very simple… Don’t Let the Other Team Score! The entire scope of the task is a bit more complex, and now the expectations for the modern goalkeeper include a greater focus on distribution than ever before. It is extremely important when working with youth players that their responsibilities and jobs on the field are defined and communicated so that expectations are as clear as possible. This will allow players to focus on areas they need to develop further and set goals/targets that they know are important to their success directly related to the position.
As we work to develop Rush Goalkeepers focus on the following job description!
- Main Purpose of the Position: Keep the ball out of the net! Keep possession for your team. Organize and lead. First line of offense and last line of defense.
- Goalkeeper Priorities when team has the ball (In Possession): Play out from the back; short, midrange, and long. Support play; switch the point of attack.
- Goalkeeper Responsibilities when team doesn’t have the ball (Out of Possession): Make Saves! Own the Box. Command space behind backline. The GK must communicate and organize the entire team while paying special attention to the backline and weak side of the field. The better position the GK can put their teammates in, the easier the job will be to keep the ball out! Have presence and be in control.
- Mindset Needed to be Successful: The Goalkeeper must learn from every mistake, but move on from it quickly. They must have the ultimate self confidence. If a mistake happens and a goal results, they need to be confident, learn from the goal, and then work to move forward. Work to establish the next save mentality! Naturally the team will look to the GK for leadership. The Goalkeeper must embrace this role and follow servant leadership. They need to be there to bail the team out when mistakes are made higher up the field. Goalkeepers need to have presence in the goal and make a positive impact for their team by being steadfast.
The last component, Mindset Need to be Successful, might be the single most important factor in determining the long term success of a GK. Unfortunately this area is often associated with a players natural ability, or something they either naturally posses or don’t. Have you ever had a Goalkeeper make a mistake and then not get past it? One mistake becomes two, then three, then you have lost the game in a big way. It can even happen at the highest level with top Goalkeepers. Check out this clip to see Liverpool’s Allison have a mental let down.
Just like teaching a GK how to dive, the Goalkeeper Coach must work to improve their GKs mindset if they are truly going to develop the complete Goalkeeper. Keep in mind, however, that players, parents, and coaches need to be patient with this process because making changes to well established ways of thinking will not happen overnight! If players are aware of what they need to change, and work on it everyday, they’ll see results.
The Goalkeeper Coach is responsible for developing the training environment and depending on the type of environment, it will either be a positive or negative environment to develop the Goalkeepers mentality. If you plant a seed and cover it with dirt, add a bit of water, and keep it in the sun you will see different results verses putting a seed in a pot covering it with dirt, and keeping it in a closet. What is your training environment? Are Goalkeepers supportive and celebratory of each others saves or do they laugh at mistakes? Remember that as the Coach you set the tone and example for everyone else in the group, but you also have the ability to modify and address others actions as they happen to reroute there actions to better fit your expectations/group environment.
This quick video from National Geographic Brain Games shows a simple experiment when a small group of people either cheer/support or boo/negativity toward a person shooting free throws. The results are amazing! As you watch be sure to look at the shooters face as they go through the process because this paints a clear picture of the environment all Goalkeepers would thrive in at training.
At your next goalkeeping session pay attention to your players mentality. Are they positive or negative with themselves? How is the environment? Could it be more productive and conducive to developing the metal mindset needed to be successful? Spend time and be attentive to working with your players to develop not just their physical and technical abilities, but their mental abilities as well!
Self Talk – Hailey Hultberg – TEDxYouth @ Park City.
7 Psychology Tricks to Build Unstoppable Confidence.
The Growth Mindset – Carol Dweck – Talks at Google.