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The 3 most common mistakes that almost all keepers keep repeating.


During my soccer life, in more than 50 years, I have seen hundreds of soccer games from the highest level, spanning World Cups and Champions Leagues, down to top youth games.

Even at the highest level, with a few rare exceptions, I constantly see keepers that keep repeating the same mistakes over and over and over………………

Please don’t misunderstand me. We all are human, so all of us make mistakes but, I’m not referring to mistakes of execution that obviously could happen. I’m referring to mistakes in principle. That means doing the wrong things. Making wrong decisions. Positioning themselves in the wrong place. This has nothing to do with the fallacy of human being. This means not knowing how to manage specific situations.

So, the 3 most ‘horrible’ things that a keeper can do, are:

Facing an opponent’s action along the wings, that probably will generate a cross (or a strong pass on the ground toward the penalty spot), by moving really close, sometimes beyond the near goal post in front of him/her.
By doing this, going to the post in front, we leave the rest of the goal totally unguarded. If the cross is powerful and long, we’ll never get back in time to the middle of the goal so, scoring a goal in an empty net will not be too hard for a good forward, with the head, or with the foot if the direction of the cross is toward the penalty spot. Sometimes I even see the ball go over the keeper and go directly on goal. This, will not happen if we stay in the middle of the goal.

So, there is no reason for the keeper to go to the post in front for facing a cross, unless you play for the other team! I repeat: if we stay in the middle of the goal, we can always go forward in case the cross is short. But we can’t go back in time if the cross is long and we are at the near post! Anyway, staying in the middle is the right position, but this doesn’t mean that we stay there as a statue so, here the second mistake:

Staying in goal when a high ball (cross/corners) arrives in the goalkeeper area, instead of going out and catching or punching it, yelling “keeper”.
In this situation, if our defenders are beaten in elevation by a forward, and he/she is able to heading the ball hard by smashing it to the ground close to the post, no keeper in the world can dive there on time so, by staying on goal, a keeper SCIENTIFICALLY chooses to have a goal against! By the way, if that space is named ‘goalkeeper area’, I’m strongly suggest to begin to ask yourself…………………… WHY!? Maybe, I said maybe, if you are a keeper, maybe there is a reason that involves……………….YOU!

Facing a break through by going out and stand in front of the opponent, with the legs open!!!!!!!
By doing this, we invite the forwards to do the most simple thing in the world: shoot the ball trough our legs. Even in this situation, no keeper in the world can react fast enough. The correct technique is to come out toward the forward, adjust the speed of approaching and, at the right moment, diving by putting the body on the ground perpendicularly to our direction (not diving backward!), like a trunk on the street that totally covers any possible angle at the shooter (hands on the ball, not the feet!!).

The only chance for the forward to score, is to chip over the keeper on the ground. Not easy to execute by a forward under pressure, and only a few players in the world have this ability and coldness. So, usually, they end up kicking the ball straight at the keeper’s body, or they shoot on the ground too wide…. so, ball out.

Why do many keepers, even at the highest level, continue to make this 3 ‘horrible’ mistakes, game after game for years, and their coaches don’t fix them? I’ll answer in a fun way, with an example.

It’s notorious that cats are good on catching mice. So, if we have to ‘hire’ someone to teach mice not being caught by cats, who will we ‘hire’? A cat or a mouse? It’s seems logic to me to hire a cat. He knows how to catch mice, so he can teach to a mouse how not to get caught!

The same is for the keepers. The forwards are the cats and the keepers are the mice. Who, in general, coaches keepers? Former keepers, so……..the mice! It’s OBVIOUS that many of them will transfer to the keepers the mistakes that they have constantly made in all their career ! They are the mice that often get caught! So, the forwards knows how to catch the mice! They knows how to score goals and beat keepers…. so, they can teach keepers how NOT GET BEATEN!

Without false modesty, I was a good forward. When I had a clear chance, I always scored. To attest this, there a fun an curious episode. My father coached me when I was young and he knew that in a certain situation I would score so, when he came to the stadiums to see me play, he always jumped in the air, fist clinked, yelling goal!!!!!, a couple of seconds before my shot! People believed that he was crazy. They didn’t know what he knew. I would have score, for sure, because the keeper gave me the opportunity to score!

Where am I going with this? I just want to say that by being a ‘keeper killer’ I know how to teach them to not get ‘killed’. And that’s why the greatest result that I have with my soccer students, are with keepers! So, I strongly encourage good forwards, to become keeper trainers. Let’s transfer our experience to them and teach them how to make the right decision and stay in the right place.

One of the greatest characteristics of a good keeper is position. Just by staying in the right one, many of the problems will be solved by themselves!

To make myself more clear, and not be misunderstood, there are great keepers who become coaches and transfer their great experience to the new keepers. But because 90% of the keeper coaches are former keepers, considering how many keepers at high level keep repeating the same mistakes over and over, and their coaches don’t fix these mistakes, it’s obvious that too many keepers transfer their mistakes to the new generation of keepers!

And with this last consideration, because people often don’t carefully read what I send out, the number of the people that deeply ‘hate’ me, will have a good increment! But this, doesn’t make me wrong. It just make me more hated! So, when you see the next game, even at a high level, check about the 3 situations that I’ve underlined. You’ll notice that often, a goal is scored provoked by one of the 3 mistakes above. After, check who’s coaching the keeper!

Coach Gianni

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Posted on 30 Nov 2007 by coachgianni
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