As we get closer to spring season teams are trying to get in their training and be ready for the spring season. Is your keeper getting in his/her training or are they just going to show up on game day and be expected to perform? The goalkeeper position is the most difficult position to master regardless of what most think. Folks that do not know the sport stick the weakest less skilled player in the goal and expect results. That is nothing further than the truth. The goalkeeper should be if not the best player on the field most definitely one of the best. Belos is video of why goalkeepers should attend weekly goalkeeper training regardless of their team training.
What is the difference between futsal goalkeeper training, indoor goalkeeper training and grassroots goalkeeper training
To the average soccer person having a goalkeeper play in an indoor game on turf is the same as playing in an outdoor game. Furthermore, having a goalkeeper play in a futsal game is the same as playing in any other indoor or outdoor soccer game. In reality there are many differences in a way a goalkeeper should play in all three games. Being the director of Central Jersey Futsal League I see every year coaches hardly paying any attention to the goalkeeper position and at times using a field player between the pipes. The result is always lopsided scores leaving the coach thinking that his team is playing in the wrong skill level. It is not that the team is not competitive it is the fact that the player playing the goalkeeper position is not trained properly. It is bad enough that the average youth level parent coach does not pay much attention to the goalkeeper position, either because they do not have the time to train the goalkeeper during team training or do not know how. Having the goalkeeper participate in goalkeeper specific training in Central New Jersey is what just4keepers do. Understanding the need to have keepers train with a goalkeeper coach specifically is key and great aid to helping a coach have a quality keeper and team.
Positioning is a key difference in all three games as the space and angles are much different as well as the speed of the game, which is much faster. Because of the smaller space the shooting is also faster and always from a closer range which forces goalkeepers to have to make quicker reaction saves and off course being in the right position and angle is crucial. At the goalkeeper training in New Jersey the coaching staff of Just4keeers teach these elements and make sure that goalkeepers understand the difference and how to apply them. Just4keepers in Central New Jersey train in a futsal environment during the winter goalkeeper training season and that helps the goalkeepers understand the different rules that futsal has and off course how to adapt their style of play from the outdoor style of play.
Unfortunately, many coaches do not understand that the futsal style of play is much different than the regular outdoor game or even the outdoor game played on turf and therefore do not know how to prepare their goalkeepers for a futsal game. Other coaches do not even have a dedicated goalkeeper, using a field player in the goal which makes it even more difficult to play. The body movement and positioning of a futsal goalkeeper are much different than that of a goalkeeper playing outdoors or indoor on turf. Once again, the training conducted by Just4Keepers in Central New Jersey reflects the futsal style of play and gets the goalkeepers ready to play in a futsal game.
While doing goalkeeper training in New Jersey, many or our older goalkeepers often ask what do goalkeeper coaches are looking for from a goalkeeper aspiring to get ID in college ID clinic. A college coach at Widener University coach Niko is pointing out some key fundamental elements all goalkeepers should have by the time they attend a goalkeeper college ID clinic. Contrary to what parents or keepers may think, college coaches are looking for consistency in fundamentals and quality in decision making. Simple is better. Many believe that the higher the level of playing the more complex the training or skills. It is actually nothing further than the truth. Coaches are looking for goalkeepers that possess sound fundamentals and good decision making. Take a look at the video below as Widener University's goalkeeper coach Niko Alexopoulos is putting so high school aspiring prospect keepers through evaluation exercises.
The 2017 Just4keepers USA Camp series has kicked off with Camps all over the US. This past weekend 67 goalkeepers of all ages attended the PA camp at the Meridian Academy under the supervision of PA ODP goalkeeper director and North East Just4Keepers director, Simon Robinson. The goalkeepers showed great spirit and effort even when the rains came. They loved diving in the wet grass. When the rain got too intense the keepers moved indoors to the Meridian Academy's indoor facilities. The camps have been a great source of knowledge and picking up fine points about the art of goalkeeping that team coaches may not be aware of. The New Jersey Just4keepers camps are still a month away with limited spots left. The New Jersey goalkeeper camps will be at July 8th & 9th and July 25th & 26th. You can sign up HERE.
As we get closer to the summer just4keepers goalkeeper camps in NJ we are publishing a video by the director of coaching on questions raised by parents about the goalkeeper camps. Simple things like how advanced the just4keepers camps are and what can the goalkeepers expect to get out of the camps. Hope the video below helps. Once you have vied the video you may register for the camps here.
In futsal goalkeepers play a very important role, even more important than in 11v11 soccer game. In an 11 a side game the playing area is very big and there are 22 players on it. If a team is much better than their opponent the goalkeeper usually doesn’t have to make any saves. In futsal things are different. The playing area is small, there are only 10 players on it and the goalkeeper can throw the ball in front of the opposite goal which means that a team can make counter attacks with their goalkeeper throwing the ball on the other side of the field. Some experts say that a very good goalkeeper is the most important element of the team in futsal.
A goalkeeper is a very special position and has to be trained different than other futsal players. In the older days of soccer a goalkeeper’s role was to prevent the ball from entering the goal. In modern soccer a goalkeeper needs to be much more than that. He has to be good with his feet as well as his hands, he has to act like an extra defender when it comes to long balls and he has to even participate in some attacking plays. He must be able to set up his defense since he can see all the players in front of him. If we look at a futsal game we see that the goalkeeper is actively taking part in the game.
The speed of the fast futsal surface and game elevates all these components and their development
On of the very common questions asked by parents and players alike. “Why does “Johnny”need separate Goalkeeper training? Seems like he gets lots of practice with his team taking all those shots.”
On the surface, it appears that is true, but in reality, it’s not correct. What’s the saying….it takes years to undo something that has been learned incorrectly. The skill set and technique of a Goalkeeper is entirely different than that of field players. Although there are some shared components, the core of Goalkeeping is unique. Instructing the keeper to “go play in goal” while the field players rip shots may seem like it’s helping both filed players and keepers, but it’s real function is to help the field player improve shooting, not the Goalkeeper with proper technique in saving those shots.
Further more as youth keepers are instructed to get in the goal for shooting practice most parent coaches do not know how or forget to protect the goalkeeper. What do I mean by that? Well first of all although the coach may have, or thinks he may have an idea about proper catching techniques he does not protect the goalkeeper from shots being fired at him from 4 or 5 feet away. This happen quite a bit in the youth age teams as they do not have yet develop proper ball control and the ball gets away from them only to have them fire a shot directly at the goalkeeper from 4 or 5 feet away. Most also do not understand why shooting so close can hurt the keeper. By the way, team coaches should practice finishing not shooting. That means field players practice how to place the ball on the corners of the goal and not fire it right at the keeper as most youth players do. With that being said, then there is no need for a goalkeeper. Just a couple of cones at the corners of the goal to help the players aim towards those spots.
Professional clubs have their own Goalkeeper coach/trainer that works with the keepers separately and then draws them into small sided situations and game scenarios to reinforce skills being trained. However, most local clubs don’t have that luxury, so goalkeeper training in New Jersey is available with Just 4 Keepers to help fill that void.
Specific Goalkeeper training with Just 4 Keepers is specific, concentrated, and focused on the skills necessary for a Goalkeeper to be successful for whatever team they play. Repetition is a key element as well as realistic situations that boost confidence and determination. Picture a typical team practice in your mind. How many successful, realistic repetitions are afforded the keeper? With players attempting to score with each opportunity, the keeper may only get touches on a quarter of balls or being able to handle when balls are fired from close range that he/she would be getting with Goalkeeper focused training.
Just 4 Keepers provides the environment to help the goalkeeper grow – in confidence and skill in a year-round program designed for keepers by keepers.
The title of this post may sound a bit extreme but as a goalkeeper I have learned to not only watch and read the game I am involved with, but watch and read the players that are playing in front of me. That includes both my teammates as well as the opposition. Here at the just4keepers international academy for keepers in New Jersey we help develop the goalkeeper’s mindset as well as his/hers physical skills and mechanics.
Let’s start from the goalkeeper’s teammates. A goalkeeper is the last line of defense and he/she has a complete view of the entire football field. No other player has that view. He/she also has more time to view and survey the game as it unfolds in front of them as well as the way their teammates’ playing habits, mood and playing style. The goalkeeper can also do the same for the other team. Because of the fact a goalkeepers’ teammates have less time to see, analyze and create correct decisions due to the constant pressure and speed of the game a goalkeeper can be a great asset to his or her teammates, both by guiding them to make the correct decision in where they stand, how to receive a pass, what to do when they receive the pass as well help them mentally when they are beaten by an opponent, make a good play or even just tired and hurt.
By doing all these things a goalkeeper will be helping his/her teammates in making better decisions, gaining more confidence from his/her teammates in believing that the particular goalkeeper has his/her field player’s back and in return the goalkeeper will see an increase in the field player’s desire to help their goalkeeper in any way they can.
Understanding these fine points and consistently reinforcing them is part of the just4keepers goalkeeper academy in New Jersey mind set and philosophy. We take the time to explain these things properly and make the goalkeeper feel as one of the most in demand positions on a team rather than just an extra position that can always be filled by someone who’s skills are lacking on the field.
A goalkeeper’s position is not just making saves but leading the entire team. Some say that the midfielder should be the best player, both technically and tactically. He/she should be able to read the game and make quick decisions. I beg to differ. A goalkeeper has much more on his plate both physically as well as mentally.
Think of it this way, there are usually 17 players on a roster, only two keepers. Any of the 15 players can adjust and play another field player’s position with pretty good success rate. But when a goalkeeper goes down in most cases he/she can only be replaced with success by another keeper.
What does it take for a goalkeeper to be “the best”? Is it talent or dedication? Nature or nurture? Or are both required for success on the soccer pitch?
Niko ALexopoulos is a talented and successful youth soccer coach who is the Director of Coaching at Just4keepersInterantional Academy in New Jersey and the-owner of SoccerSkillz.
As an ex player Niko has loved the sport since he was 4 years old. That was the 1st time his dad, an ex professional goalkeeper for FC Olympiakos, took him to the stadium and Niko started to experienced pro soccer in Europe at a very young age. The rest is history. Soccer has always been part of his life, both on and off the pitch. From his early years as a 4year old playing in his dad’s pro team peanut programs for kids, to the older training sessions, through US high school, college and eventually going back to Europe and playing at the pro level Niko has loved the game, and the lessons it has taught him both on and off the pitch. The lessons are never ending and as a coach a new chapter is written on a daily basis that brings new dynamics into his coaching that are on a much different perspective than that of a player.
Malcolm Gladwell in the book Outliers tells the stories of many successful people. He highlights the fact that successful people all have natural “God-given” ability and a passion for their field of expertise. Gladwell also talks about major turning points in their lives where they as individuals recognized the opportunity in front of them, seized that opportunity and then displayed a high work ethic to reach the pinnacle of their given fields. These people were blessed with a natural talent, were high achievers and recognized that they were in the right place at the right time.
Now let us explore the development of the goalkeeper and ask the question: Is it the role of the coach to develop the player or to create the environment that allows the goalkeeper to develop?
This ignites the question; for a goalkeeper to be successful, are there some ingredients that he/she needs to bring to the table as well, and what are they?
There is no doubt that the successful and experienced coach requires many skills to create the environment for successful goalkeeper development, and coaches that lack management skills and soccer knowledge will hinder player development.
That said, in just4keepers international academy the success of a goalkeeper is much more than that and is based around two major concepts that are completely out of the coach’s control.
The first is the natural “God-given” talent that the goalkeeper brings to the table. Call this the players “Talent Potential.”
The second call it the goalkeeper’s “Learning Potential.” What this means is the overall drive of the goalkeeper, his or her personality and work ethic. Is the goalkeeper a high achiever or not?
From the J4K perspective, when we discuss the “Learning Potential” of goalkeepers we are talking about their desire to become the best they can be. Goalkeepers with a high learning potential have a true passion for the game, it is always in their thoughts, and they love to watch the game when they are not playing. These goalkeepers never miss a training session, and best most dedicated goalkeepers treat every training session and game they play like it’s their last. All these youth goalkeepers focus within the session are always high and they ask questions of the coach about the tactics.
Goalkeepers with “Learning Potential” have no issues getting constructive feedback from the coach – they want feedback, and they have a thirst, a hunger to learn. They are strong mentally and can deal with and bounce back from disappointment. They are patient and understand that the journey towards success is a long one.
In essence they are “High” achievers. Goalkeepers (and parents) that have and understand the traits required of a high achiever are not only a coach’s dream, but will have a much higher chance of success.
We use the term “Talent Potential” to discuss the “nature versus nurture” topic. Daniel Coyle, author of the book, The Talent Code, discusses this topic of talent in depth. What comes across from the book is that talent is a function of “deep practice,” “ignition” and “master coaching.” Greatness is not born, but it is grown. Great read book; it is a must for coaches, parents and players.)
Although we agree to an extent that talent can be developed, from experience in coaching youth soccer players we believe they are born with a “Level of Potential” that we as coaches do not control. Coaches nurture that potential, refine it and guide the goalkeeper to success. Let’s just categorize the level of potential of these players into Type 1, Type 2, Type 3 and Type 4. From a young age coaches and parents can easily identify these goalkeepers, they are:
Type 1: This is the young goalkeeper who has the natural athletic ability (genetics) and an innate soccer insight and technical ability for the game. You know the one I mean; the goalkeeper who naturally is not only quick, but has quick feet and a quick mind. He or she has had very little training at this time, but all that are watching cannot help but applaud the skills and physical capabilities of the goalkeeper on show. This goalkeeper has been blessed genetically with a talent potential to play at the highest levels of the game.
Type 2: This is the young goalkeeper who is a genetically gifted athlete, however currently falls short in regards to the innate soccer insight and technical ability to excel within the game. In the correct environment, and with a high learning potential, this goalkeeper can both compete with, and evolve into, the “Type 1” player.
Type 3: Unlike the Type 1 or Type 2 goalkeeper, this goalkeeper lacks the natural physiological traits required at the higher levels of the game but does display the innate soccer insight and technical ability for the game. With the correct environment this type of goalkeeper has the potential to play college soccer, but his or her lack of natural athletic ability will hinder their chances to play at the higher levels of the game. This goalkeeper requires a very high learning potential to achieve his or her goals.
Type 4: This goalkeeper falls short on natural athletic ability and the innate soccer insight and technical ability for the game. Although this goalkeeper will have the same opportunities to compete and enjoy the game, unlike the other types of goalkeepers this goalkeeper does not have the talent potential to play at the higher levels of club soccer and will generally not be good enough to play college soccer, no matter how high his/her learning potential is.
We should point out that when discussin the physiological aspect of a goalkeeper, we are not talking about the height and build or size and strength of a goalkeeper, but more about the soccer-specific agility, mobility, speed, strength, power and endurance. An example of two different goalkeeper types would be Valdes and Buffon. The two are different in their physiological make up, but both possess incredible athletic prowess on the soccer field.
When we discuss the “talent potential” and the “learning potential” of goalkeepers we challenge coaches and parents to have more open and honest conversations concerning the ingredients the goalkeeper is bringing to the table. We challenge goalkeepers and parents to look deep inside and ask the question: Where am I/where is my child on the talent and learning potential scale?
Everyone has the ability to develop the skills required to become a “High Achiever.” Playing soccer creates the perfect foundation for success in life, not just soccer. Many goalkeepers will realize their dreams and play college soccer, while others will not. But let us not forget no matter what goalkeeper type, with the correct attitude and a high potential to learn, every goalkeepers can strive to become the best they can be and have many enjoyable years playing the beautiful game!
Whether the reader agrees or disagrees, we hope that our perspective of what we believe are the primary factors of goalkeeper development here at just4keepers international academy, and provoke some food for thought and at the very least reminds every goalkeeper that their quest to greatness is to some extent in their own hands!
Soccer has always been an endless source of life lessons on and off the pitch for Niko.As an ex player Niko has loved the sport since he was 4 years old. That was the 1st time his dad, an ex professional goalkeeper for FC Olympiakos, took him to the stadium and Niko started to experienced pro soccer in Europe at a very young age. The rest is history.