Ball Familiarity

By Lawrence Fine, Author of the FineSoccer Coaching Bible.

Welcome to the Goalkeeping Newsletter. Today’s topic deals with ball familiarity.

We do various drills, keepers watch video’s, we do video analysis, keepers pay for extra training. It’s all good BUT if a keeper isn’t comfortable with the ball in his hands, it’s all for naught.

When I started out as a keeper (and even before that when I was a basketball player) I tried to always have a ball in my hand. I would throw it in the air and catch it. I would throw it against a wall and catch it. I would throw it up, punch it with one hand and then catch it. I would throw it up, punch it with two hands and catch it. I would bounce the ball between my legs and catch it. I would throw the ball over my head and catch it behind my back. I would have a one handed catch with a friend (or a wall).

Some might question the value of doing these things but there is no doubt in my mind there is a value. Ideally a keeper will always have a clear view of the ball that is coming at him and the ball would come directly at him but the reality is quite different.

  • The keepers view might be obstructed.
  • The ball might deflect off an opponent or teammate and go in a different direction.
  • A keeper might go up for a high ball and have an opponent hold his arm down so only one hand can get to the ball.
  • A ball might hit a rock and go in a different direction.
  • Any number of other things might occur

The best way to prepare to handle the unexpected is to become as comfortable with the ball as possible. One does this by playing with the ball as much as possible. Besides the simple games you can play with yourself where you throw the ball to yourself, there are a number of other games you can play, some that I’ll list here but many can be found in the drills database.

  • Burnout (two keepers stand 10 yards apart (distance can vary) and throw the ball as each other. Any dropped ball (or even a bobble) counts as a point. In this game, points are bad. First player to 5 points loses
  • Keeper wars
  • One handed catch (throw balls as hard as you want at each other but the ball must be at the chest, dropping the ball counts as a point and points are bad)
  • Opposite hand catching
  • Three ball juggling (regular juggling, not soccer juggling)
  • Soccer juggling

There are many more things keepers can do but the key is for the keepers to keep a ball with them as much as possible.

Have a great day!


By Lawrence Fine, Author of the FineSoccer Coaching Bible.


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