If you are a goalkeeper, one of the most important aspects of the game will be your handling. This is the only position on the field where you are allowed to handle the ball, so it is something that you will need to work on yourself without having too many others who will be working on the same drills.
There may be another goalkeeper on the squad that you can practice some drills with to improve your handling or maybe a coach or outfield player. By working on this aspect of your game, you will be more confident when you pull on the number one jersey and face some of the best strikers that you come up against each season.
Here are some useful tips when it comes to improving your handling as a goalkeeper.
Why you should work on your handling
There are many different aspects involved with being a goalkeeper. You need to be well versed in communication so that the defense is well positioned at all times to try to mitigate the damage the opposition may inflict if they see gaps in the armor of your defense.
You need to have good kick outs that can find your teammates or give them a fair chance to compete. You also need to be able to accurately and efficiently roll and throw the ball out to your teammates, as well as being apt at punching the ball away. However, handling is perhaps the most important aspect of being a goalkeeper, as this can be the difference between conceding a goal and keeping a clean sheet.
While sometimes you will tip the ball around the post or slap the ball in front of you when a shot comes in, it is important that your handling is on point when it comes to corners and most types of shots. If you block a shot without catching it, there is always the chance that an opponent will swoop in and get an easy tap in goal. If you are confident in your handling, you will catch most of these balls rather than blocking them and opening yourself up to costly mistakes.
Tips to implement
As mentioned, there are many different ways in which you can work on your handling. It is a good idea that you cover your bases and try a variety of approaches and drills to help you perfect your handling ability as a goalkeeper. Here are some of those tips:
Having good goalkeeper gloves
The first port of call is making sure that your equipment is in order and will not be working against you right off the bat. If you have great handling but your goalkeeper gloves are not up to standard, there will be issues that continually crop up.
You may drop a cross or a shot every so often that could lead to you conceding a goal. This is why you should take the time to do your research and see what the best goalkeeper gloves for you may be. This involves buying from a quality brand, as well as keeping these gloves well maintained at all times. By looking after the goalkeeper gloves, you will be saving yourself money in the long run, as well as improving your game.
A lot of goalkeepers like to have two pairs to call upon, one that is used for every day training and another that is only used on match day. By making sure that your goalkeeper gloves fit you properly, have sufficient quality and are well maintained, you are well on your way to being a better goalkeeper.
Work on different handling techniques
There are a lot of different techniques when it comes to handling a football. These different techniques will be different types of situations. Therefore, by bolstering your inventory of different techniques is a great way to adapt to different types of situations.
The scoop handling technique is an ideal choice for gathering or saving low balls. It is important that you adjust your body position so that it is in line with the direction the ball is going. Your body needs to be low and act as a wall in case your hands fail to gather the ball first time, as your body will usually stop the ball slipping into the goal.
Just make sure that your legs are closed, as you don’t want the ball to slip between them and leave you embarrassed as the ball nestles behind you in the goals. You use your hands and arms to create a smooth ramp that the ball can roll up into before securing the ball against your chest.
The cup or the basket handling technique is ideal for shots that are coming at you around the middle of your body. Make sure that your eyes are always on the ball and make sure that your body is square facing the ball and your weight is a bit more forward. Place your little fingers close together and make a pathway for the ball to be cupped into your body.
Guide the ball into your chest or stomach area, with the ball hitting your body first more so, cushioning the ball and taking a lot of the power out of the shot. You will then need to wrap your forearms and hands around the ball.
This is an ideal handling technique if the ball is coming at you around the height of your head and for crosses coming in high. You form a W shape with your two hands in anticipation of catching the ball. Make sure that your eyes are on the ball and that your body is positioned so that you will be catching the ball in front of you, rather than behind.
With the W shape, wrap your fingers around the sides of the ball and make sure that your hands are nice and firm so the ball doesn’t bounce off your hands. Once you have the ball in your hands, bring it to your chest and wrap it up tightly so nobody can knock it away from you.
This is a technique that a goalkeeper can use when they are trying to get the ball when you need to leave your feet as the ball is too far away. Whichever leg is closer to the ball needs to drop down and you can push off your other foot if needed. Move both hands together towards the ball and close together. You want your nearest hand to be placed behind the ball and your other hand on top for security.
It is important that you regularly practice these techniques in isolated drills. Some of these techniques you can work on yourself with a ball and a wall, while others you will need a helper. Try to individually work on each of the techniques. When it comes to match time, you will then learn the different situations in which you should use certain techniques.
Over time, these processes will become automatic and natural, you won’t even need to think about what technique to use in a certain situation as your body will work instinctively. Practice will breed confidence and over time, you will become a better goalkeeper as you have more faith in your ball handling ability.