Goalkeeping can be a lonely existence at times. You are usually not always going to be in the thick of the action, but when the play comes to you, it is vital that you are ready to deal with it.
Just one shot on goal can be the difference between winning and losing. Therefore, as a goalkeeper, you will want to maximize as much as possible your chances of keeping a clean sheet. If you do not concede any goals during the course of a game, you have done your job. The role of scoring goals is up to your outfield teammates who have most of the control over this outcome.
Therefore, you need to tick all the boxes as a goalkeeper. This includes having proper equipment, such as quality goalkeeper gloves and you regularly practice both your strengths and weaknesses. As time goes on, your confidence will increase and along with it your clean sheets will also become more frequent all going well.
Of course, sometimes there is nothing you can do about conceding a particular goal. It may result from poor defending, an unlucky mistake from a teammate or an unstoppable shot. The key is to keep persevering and control the controllables as much as possible.
Here are some key tips to help you with your clean sheet objectives:
Using Proper Equipment
The first port of call when you are a goalkeeper is to control the equipment you are using. While you may not think it at first, your goalkeeper gloves are going to be vital when it comes to your ability to be an effective goalkeeper.
By having a proper pair of goalkeeper gloves, you will be ensuring that you have the best grip on the ball as possible, they can also protect your hands from getting easily injured and if you buy the right pair of goalkeeper gloves and look after them properly, they will last you for a very long time.
It is also important that you have proper football boots for all types of conditions. You may need a longer stud when the pitch is particularly wet and muddy as you can’t afford any slips or losing your footing at vital moments.
For dry, hard pitches, you will want softer studs that will be easy on your feet and not cause you to trip or stumble when patrolling the penalty area. Some goalkeepers like to use padded goalkeeper shorts or trousers, but this will usually be a personal preference. Some goalkeepers don’t like having excessive restrictions when they are playing.
One of the most important aspects of being a goalkeeper that can often get overlooked is proper communication. You need to be able to speak to your defenders in particular throughout the game in an effective manner.
You have a great view of the entire pitch, so you can tell people where they need to go as you can see all of the space that is available in certain segments of the field. If a certain player is drifting from his or her zone or hasn’t noticed a particular run of an opponent, the goalkeeper needs to be able to communicate this quickly and effectively.
For set pieces, the goalkeeper comes to the fore. For a free-kick, the goalkeeper needs to set up the wall in an effective manner and ensure that you have the right player in the right position.
For corners, you have to decide how your defense lines up and let everyone know when you as the goalkeeper has the ball and when you do not have it. This will help eliminate mistakes that could easily be avoided through proper communication.
Commanding your Domain
The penalty area is your domain as a goalkeeper. Anyone that is in this area and is on your team should come under your control. You are the boss and you need to tell them where they need to be if they are confused. You also need to worry about your own positioning. No doubt you will have seen countless clips of goalkeepers getting caught out of position by an opposition player, scoring an outrageous goal from very far out.
It is easy to lose concentration as a goalkeeper and drift to one side of the goal. Therefore, you need to try to focus on your positioning whenever the opposition has the ball, as well as when your team is coming out of defense. You don’t want to take the chance of getting caught napping. When you are in a proper position in the goals, you will be making it tougher for opponents to score as the space to score a potential goal is cut down.
If you are in a one-on-one situation for example, you want to make yourself big and in most cases not overcommit. By closing down the angles, you will cause hesitation in your opponent's mind, giving them less time to make a decisive decision. They will often rush their shot or delay long enough for one of your defenders to come in and lend you a hand.
Most people will associate proper shot-stopping with being a good goalkeeper. You can be in the best position in the goals, be communicating effectively and have the best equipment, but if you cannot properly stop the ball when it comes to you, then goalkeeper might not be the best position for you.
With practice, you can significantly improve your shot-stopping if this is currently not your strong point. Proper goalkeeper gloves will help to ensure that you have the best grip possible. One of the keys when it comes to shot-stopping is deciding what to do. You have a number of different choices, such as punching the ball away, trying to match it, knock it down to yourself or try to deflect it around the post.
The more you practice and put yourself into different situations, you will start to get a proper feel for what strategy will be best in a given situation. By choosing the wrong option, it may be costly. For example, if you mistime a punch or a knockdown, it could drop the ball right into the lap of an opposition player for an easy tap in. Therefore, proper practice will help you in this regard, allowing you to learn from your mistakes and become a better shot-stopper.
As you can see, there are many core aspects of being a good goalkeeper and maximizing your chances of keeping a clean sheet. Having a proper pair of goalkeeper gloves, being a good communicator and regularly working on your positioning and shot-stopping will all pay massive dividends in the long run.
You will gain more confidence with each game and your teammates will appreciate all that you do to save them when they make mistakes and an opponent is bearing down on your goal and you pull off a great save.