Infinity SC Goal Keeper Director
Have you ever heard the saying that a person has “soft hands” when they excel at catching a ball? I am going to let you all in on a secret, the amount of “softness” in someone’s hands actually has nothing to do with how well they catch. Catching is 80% coordination and concentration and the rest is technique.
At every Infinity Goalkeeping session we start with a very basic catching and footwork activity where the goalkeepers get set to receive a punted ball and make a catch. This allows me to evaluate each goalkeeper’s technique and it also serves one other most important purpose. Unbeknownst to the goalkeepers what I am actually doing (aside from looking at their technique) is warming up their minds and sharpening their level of concentration for the training that we are about to do. Those that have trained with me have heard me say during this warm-up “THIS IS BY FAR THE MOST IMPORTANT ACTIVITY WE WILL BE DOING ALL TRAINING”.
I see a lot of younger kids struggling with the concentration aspect of making a catch. Their hands are making contact with the ball, their technique looks good, but their eyes are looking away from the ball. Most commonly I find that kids are still looking at me after I have kicked the ball above their head. Those that fail to look at the ball and visually follow it all the way into their hands fail to make the catch.
Here is a simple, yet highly effective way to help them develop the eye coordination and concentration while training and make catching simple and add a fun element to catching a ball. This is one of the few training set-ups that require a Sharpie Permanent marker or stickers. Here is what you will need to do: on every panel of the soccer ball either put a colored dot or draw a shape. I use colored dots for my trainings. Most anything can be used really just make sure that the goalkeeper has something to focus on that they can quickly identify. Now when working with the goalkeeper on catching make them call the color or state what the shape or object is out loud when they catch the ball. This will require the goalkeeper to start watching the ball all the way into their hands and provide incentive for them to not take their eye off the ball. Some of the best training activities are often the most simple in design. On a final note let the ink from the marker dry before you start dribbling your ball on the carpet inside your house. This is a key point that my mother asked me to forward onto everyone. Thanks mom and sorry about the carpet!