Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Formation of the Goalkeeper - Development Years (Part 2 of 4)

The following article was featured in the Scuola Calcio Magazine. Was written by Marco Stoini, Director of Coaching for San Luigi Calcio Trieste and Techncial Director of the Ascoli Soccer Academy from the Italian Professional Soccer League and translated by Antonio Saviano.

It is been said that the role of the goalkeeper is a single role, but as we know it is always a child that is in the goal and that will become a man through the frequent goalkeepers development stages. The program of the goalkeeper’s technical work can be divided in two great age groups:

1. From 6-12 years old
2. From 12 years old up

From 6 to 12 Years Old

In reality the very young goalkeeper is not a complete goalkeeper yet. The child playing in the goal does not have the mental and physical structure characteristics in order to be a goalkeeper as an adult would. We are dealing with a child that must be developed and we must stabilize his motor and coordinative abilities, which in many cases are harder for a goalkeeper than a field player. Example of some coordinative abilities:

- Trajectories to save
- Agility
- Relation – ball – ground
- Relation – body - ground
- Relation – eyes – hands
- Relation – eyes – hands – body
- Etc.

Furthermore the physical structure can often prevent the correct execution of many technical fundamentals (sometimes it can also be impossible): for example, the simple size of the hands will not allow easy stops, it will not allow an easy re-start play and so forth.

With these premises it is logical that under the 12 years of age (and in particular until 10 years old) the goalkeeper follows a program integrated with the team, therefore the program should have a general broad activity necessary to all the players on the team and that has objectives to reach based on the age we are working with.

Perform normal practices that all teammates benefit, one of them should be using the feet, which in part is very important under most useful ways. However, at least two times per week the activity should be provided, in specific part, to the particular of the goalkeeper and divided in groups of at least 3-4 goalkeepers and for a duration of approximately 90 minutes. As for all the roles of the soccer players as well as for the goalkeepers the techniques must be placed in first place when training. When speaking about goalkeepers, especially "strong ones” we often refer to goalkeepers with solid technical bases developed from a younger age, and that are like a strong foundation for the rest of their career.

The young goalkeepers psychological side is also very important. Much attention goes to those activities that should not exceed the actual abilities of the student, in order not to create failure feelings, having the young goalkeepers overcome fears that begin with the contact body-ground and development of body movement.
To free their strength is a physiological necessity of the children, but to let them have fun and satisfaction, but also have a feeling of authority and prestige, it is a primary task of a good instructor.

The young goalkeepers see and admire some champions on TV who rise to be their idol, they may have and wear their jerseys, may be their caps or gloves, but for sure will not be able to copy the technical movements, because their mental and learning abilities will prevent them from making does decisions. The instructor should remember this important information and convey to the young goalkeepers in a simple way.

From 12 Years Old and Up

At this age the young goalkeepers begin to assume the abilities of the "true goalkeeper". Now the techniques can and must be learned and without any limitations, they can and they must be repeated to the intend to create the complete necessary development that will stabilize the specific abilities. Now, the mental and the tactical aspect of the development can also be trained:

- Concentration
- Subsequent choices – understanding the game

At this stage, the athlete training will be able to assume greater weight in the activity: for the role of the goalkeeper the strength is the base to support the major part of typical body movements (jumps, quick sprint, executions, etc), the agility, the flexibility and the acrobatic training are an integral part of the development.
The aerobic component should cover the importance of general conditions.

Regarding Strength:

- High expressions: (fast – maximum resistant)
- Under expressions: (flexible volatile - reflected flexible volatile - resistance to the maximum strength - resistance to the instantaneous strength)
- Types of reduction: (concentric - eccentric - isometric – ply-metric)

All of the above has to be taken into consideration with a specific development, but at the same time we should be careful to the structure of a body that is still unbalanced and in a developing stage. In fact the speed or the rapidity is influenced from the strength level of the goalkeeper and are naturally unavoidable qualities. In the training the complete development aspect of the goalkeeper can not be neglected: it is true that the standardized repetitions are important for the reflex, but is also true that if we work in different situations, it will be possible for the athlete to decompose the technical body movements and to use only those parts that time to time will be necessary for that specific need.
I would like to point out that with two-three weekly training sessions of approximately 80 minutes each, we should attain good results.

With the goalkeeper who by now, at this age has exceeded the evolutionary phase, it is moreover fundamental to work on the specific errors. The instructor must maintain a direct contact with his own goalkeeper students. Because it is important to have a direct contact, it is better not to have many goalkeepers for training. But the instructor must also be careful, along with the head-coach, not to isolate the group of goalkeepers from the team, something that happens more then we think.

This article was featured in the Scuola Calcio Magazine.

Scuola Calcio Coaching Magazine is aimed and dedicated to providing first class soccer information for instructors at all levels throughout the North America and the World.

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