Should Young Goalies Punt?

There was a recent discussion on our local soccer forum that talked a teams that were playing 'Kickball'. One poster suggested that goalkeepers should be encouraged to roll the ball out or drop it to their feet and pass their way out of the back rather than punting it up the field.

I've never coached my teams to play kickball so the suggestion that having the goalkeeper punt the ball every time is a form of kickball got me thinking. Why do goalkeepers punt? Most of the time it is to get the ball as far away from their goal as possible. Is that what we want our young goalkeepers thinking? I'm not saying that there isn't a place for punting the ball. But how many of our goalkeepers realize they have another choice?

When you watch the professional game you'll see goalkeepers roll the ball out to a defender, throw it to a midfielder, drop it to their feet and pass it (often just as long as a punt would have been) or punt it out. I think the reason we don't encourage our young goalkeepers to use these various techniques is that we're afraid they'll make the wrong choice and it will lead to conceding a goal. Unfortunately, too many of our coaching methods revolve around an avoidance of risk rather than a desire to teach players to make good decisions (ie: throws always down the line, goalkicks always hit long, defenders kicking the ball out when under any pressure, etc).

I believe that we should give our players choices and teach them how to decide which one is correct given the circumstances. Will they make the wrong choice at times? Sure, but that's how they learn. The only reason to eliminate all risk and just have them make the safest play every time is because we're afraid to lose the game. The irony is that teaching kids to make their own choices will help them be more successful in the long term.

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