Posts Tagged ‘rebound’

Which Goalkeeper is Better: Today’s or Yesteryear’s?

April 8, 2010

Author’s Note: This article discusses professional goalkeepers. Non-professional goalkeepers are exempt.

Because today’s goalkeepers are so tall and so athletic, I believe it is much harder to score goals today than it was 20 or 30 years ago. In fact, sometimes I wonder how any goals are scored because goalkeepers make regulation-sized goals look like youth goals. Yet despite all the physical gains, tactical advancements, and acrobatic dives, I don’t believe today’s goalkeepers are held to the same standards as their predecessors. Which begs the question … which generation of goalkeepers is better—today’s or yesteryear’s?

For me, it all comes down to expectations and accountability. Back in my playing days, goalkeepers were expected to hold onto all shots. Rebounds, of any sort, were unacceptable unless the ball was being tipped over the crossbar.

Today, that philosophy has changed and I think for the better. Since today’s shots are stronger and more unpredictable (I’ve never seen so many knuckleballs), it is harder to make a save and hold on to the ball. Therefore, it makes sense to have goalkeepers deflect shots for a corner rather than trying to corral them and possibly give up a rebound. Plus, many times a fingertip is all a goalkeeper is able to get on the ball making a deflection the only option.

Yet too often, I see today’s goalkeepers letting rebounds deflect back into the center of the field or deflect shots that appear easily catchable. Besides being unacceptable, rarely do I see or hear goalkeepers being held accountable for poor saves.

Saves should never deflect back into the center of the field. The diagram below shows acceptable deflections (green) and unacceptable deflections (red). Granted, there are times when goalkeepers have to make reaction saves. In these cases, who cares where the ball ends up as long as it is not in the back of the net? But for longer-distance shots that can be judged, they should be just as easy, if not easier, to deflect sideways.

To counter high-velocity shots, I see many goalkeepers catch-and-drop the ball in front of them rather than try to catch it outright or deflect it away. This is a wonderful solution to the velocity problem. The ‘catch-dropping’ method prevents a goalkeeper from having to absorb the full impact of a shot. Since an attacker is rarely close enough to a goalkeeper, if the ball drops close to the goalkeeper’s feet, this method should preclude a goalkeeper from having to deflect shots kicked directly at him/her.

I am no goalkeeper (I only recall playing in goal once in a JV game) and don’t claim to be one. And God Bless those players who want to play ‘keeper. You are a rare and special breed. But I think today’s professional goalkeepers are permitted to get away with poor and unnecessary deflections which is setting a bad example for youth goalkeepers. Therefore, while they are athletically superior to their predecessors, today’s goalkeepers don’t appear to be as technically sound.

What do you think?

2-3 Goal Difference Per Game: Follow-up the Shot

October 8, 2009

When a ball is shot on goal, 5 things could happen:

  1. A goal is scored
  2. The goal is missed, resulting in a goal kick
  3. The goalie makes a save and retains possession of the ball
  4. The goalie makes a save by deflecting the ball out for a corner
  5. The goalie makes a save and the ball rebounds back into play.

#5 happens a number of times during a game. As a coach, whether your team took the shot or your team was shot on, you always want the appropriate players to follow-up the shot. On the offensive end, following-up shots will result in easy goals. On the defensive end, following-up an opponent’s shot by clearing it out of danger will result in fewer goals being scored against your team.

Yet rarely, especially on the offensive end, does this happen. There are several reasons why players don’t follow-up the shot.

  • The ‘Spectator Factor’. Once a shot is taken, many players become spectators. They wait to see the result of the shot and then will react accordingly. This is a very natural reaction and happens at all levels of the game and in all sports, even at the professional level. In baseball, players assume that pop-ups will always be caught and simply wait for it to happen. In basketball, rebounds often go uncontested. In football, once the quarterback throws the ball down field, many players assume the play is over for them.
  • The extra work/effort is rarely rewarded. When a shot is taken, the attacking player does not know the outcome in advance. Therefore, on every single shot attempt, the player needs to ‘crash the goal’. If after several games there has not been a rebound for the attacker, that player will be less inclined to look for the rebound.
  • Since the follow-up needs to be done at full-speed in order to be effective, players need to expend extra energy. After several efforts a player may get tired.
  • Shots are often taken from a long distance (refer back to the ‘dribble-on-goal‘ post). When a shot is taken from a great distance, rarely will an attacker be able to get to a rebound.

In theory, the solutions are easy. But because the ‘spectator factor’ is a natural human reaction or simply a bad habit, it will take a long time to recondition and reprogram the players to follow-up. Here are some tips.

  • As a player, assume that every shot will be saved. Start your follow-up as soon as the shot it taken or even better, when you anticipate the shot will be taken. That extra step or two, as long as you are not called for offside, can make all the difference in the world.
  • As a coach, incorporate a follow-up drill into all shooting exercises. The one I recommend which will reward and condition the attacker yet not compromise the goalie training is that every time the goalie makes a simple save, have him/her drop the ball in front of the goal that the shooter must follow-up and score. This follow-up can go uncontested by the goalie.

For players who follow-up shots, the rewards can be tremendous:

  • Attackers will score more goals; defenders will save many goals
  • Players will be in better shape
  • Coaches love effort. When a coach sees extra effort being put forth by a player, I guarantee you that the player will get more playing time. If you are not a starter or are not happy with your playing time, start following-up the shots and see what happens.
  • Effort is contagious. If you are a captain or aspire to be a captain, effort (and leading by example) is the quickest way to earn the respect of your teammates.

2-3 Goal Difference Per Game: Corner Kicks

August 19, 2009

Some of the most beautiful goals are scored from corner kicks. Who doesn’t enjoy a beautiful header or one-time volley into the back of the end? However, rarely will you see such a goal at the youth level. Most players are afraid to head the ball and many don’t have the eye-foot coordination to take a ball directly out of the air. Also at this age, very few goalies are assertive enough or have the hand-eye coordination to catch a ball in a congested area.

The trick to scoring more goals from corner kicks is to have all corner kicks be in-swingers … bend-it-like-Beckham kicks. Looking at the opponents goal from the field, an in-swinger is created when a right-foot kicker takes the kick from the left-corner spot or a left-foot kicker takes the kick from the right-corner spot. The kick is taken with the inside-of-the-foot with the toe pointed in an ‘up’ position. When done properly, a kick can bend or curve significantly. A ball that appears to be heading for the 6-yard line can quickly bend toward the goal. This kick will typically hit a few players and land on the ground in front of the goal just waiting for an opportunistic forward to kick the ball into the goal.

To implement this strategy:

  • Choose a right- and left-footed player capable of putting some bend of the ball and who can reach the far post on a corner kick.
  • When taking the kick ask the kicker to to put as much bend on the ball as possible and have her aim for the far post. In fact, challenge them to score.
  • Place one forward on the goal between the goalie and the near post. The mere presence of this player will make the entire defense nervous.
  • From the top of the penalty box, have several players crash the goal. The run should begin as soon the the kicker approaches the ball … but not sooner. By starting at the top of the penalty area, a player is running on to the ball. Also, if the corner is poor and heading for the penalty spot and not the goal, the players can stop their run on goal and still receive the ball in front of them.
  • Keep at least 1 offensive player at the top of the penalty box. Many times, a ball will only be cleared to the top of the box, just waiting for someone to score on the rebound.
  • The more chaotic the the penalty area is on a corner and the closer the ball lands near the goal, the more goals will be scored.

The laws state that there is no offside on a corner kick and that a goal can be scored directly from a corner kick without having to touch another player–either offensive or defensive.

Defensive Strategy

Corners are very difficult to defend. If given a choice between given up a throw-in or a corner, always choose a throw-in. However, corners are avoidable. These tricks should help reduce the number of goals you give up per game:

  • Keep your goalie on the line at all times.
  • Place a defender on the near post facing the kicker. Make sure the defender is holding onto the post so they know where they are and the ball won’t slip between the player and the post. When the ball passes over this player, he/she slip into the goal while still holding onto the post. A player on the far post is optional but recommended if the other team has strong kicker.
  • Place 2 additional defenders on the goal line. These players should not be afraid of heading the ball. If it means bringing your forwards back, do so.
  • Place a defender half-way between the corner flag and the near post. They will be able to pick off a poor corner and be in position to quickly attack a short corner.
  • Keep a defender at the top of the penalty area for any lose balls. If there is an offensive player there as well, the defender needs to be between the offensive player and the goal.
  • When clearing a ball from the goal mouth, always kick the ball to the touch lines, never up the middle.
  • The more defenders in the penalty area, the better.