If you are a soccer goalkeeper, the conditions of the pitch or the weather can have a big impact on how you prepare for a game and what you do during the course of the 90 minutes. As you are the last line of defense, you have to take more precautions than the outfield players, who can often afford to make a few mistakes without getting punished too much.
Whether the pitch you are playing on isn’t in great condition or the rain is lashing down, there are a few ways you can prepare yourself as a goalkeeper for these types of tricky conditions. This guide will walk you through some useful preparation tips to keep in mind on game day.
Prepare for all eventualities.
If you are getting ready for a match, you need to be prepared as much as possible for any outcome. While you can check the weather forecast, this will not always be accurate. You want to make sure that your kitbag is fully stocked up with the proper gear you need to get the job done.
If you are playing an away, you might not be aware of what conditions the pitch will be in, and this can cause you to have different needs for your equipment. This means making sure that you have the right footwear for the job, whether for hard or soft ground.
The opposition may change the venue at the last minute, and you don’t want to get caught unaware by this. If nothing else, you can mentally throw yourself off if you do not have the necessary equipment with you.
The same goes for the clothing that you wear. Some goalkeepers will wear padded shorts or pants in certain conditions, while they may differ from this apparel at other times. This is another essential part of your equipment. Finally, and probably most importantly, you will need to have all of the proper goalkeeper gloves with you.
While some goalkeepers will only use a single pair no matter the conditions, others prefer to have one specific pair for wet conditions and another for dry conditions. Certain gloves will allow you to grip the ball better in wet conditions than others and vice versa. Therefore, by controlling the controllables you can go a long way towards being prepared and having a successful game goal.
Playing in the Rain.
If you are playing a game and it has been raining very heavily or it is still down pouring, this will not be the most enjoyable experience for a goalkeeper. This is because the ball can react in a lot of different ways once it hits the surface of the pitch.
It is a good idea for this reason to go around the two goalmouths if possible before the beginning of the game to see what the conditions are like and how the ball is reacting.
There can often be a rapid skid off the grass when the ball comes in at a pace when the grass is wet. However, other parts of the pitch may also be a bit waterlogged or particularly soft, which will slow down the pace of the ball. All of these factors will play into what you are going to do as a goalkeeper.
The last thing you want to do is mistime the pace of a shot and see it skid off the surface and into the goal or a ball traveling along the surface. As the goalmouth will see a lot of action during the course of a game it can often be the worst surface on the pitch as it gets chopped up and muddy.
This makes it even more important that you are light on your feet and not getting stuck in the mud. Wearing the right footwear is essential to minimize the chance of you slipping or skidding.
Another thing to keep in mind on wet days is not taking as many risks. The ball can skid if you try to stop it under your foot, for example, so often it is better to take the safe option and put boot to the ball straight away. It is also usually going to be trickier to catch the ball at times, even if you are wearing the best goalkeeper gloves.
For the likes of corners, you might be better-served fisting or punching the ball away than trying to catch up. Just make sure that you are confident in this approach as you don’t want to miss the ball or not make a proper connection.
Playing in Dusty Conditions
If you are playing games in dusty conditions, it can nearly have the opposite effect of a wet match. The balls will be a lot more consistent in terms of their contact with the field; however, they will often bounce higher, which needs to be considered.
Your footwear is very important in the slippy conditions, as wearing footwear that is not conducive to the soft ground can be tough on your feet and cause issues with your control.
Having the likes of padded trousers can be great if you are hesitant to dive in a dry or dusty goalmouth, as you do not have to worry about cutting yourself as much or the overall impact on your body.
With your goalkeeper gloves, you will want to add a bit of moisture to them in dusty conditions to improve the grip stickiness. You can do so by squirting a bit of water on them, with the old school way being a bit of spit.
As you can see, there are a few different types of conditions that you will come up against that can throw a spanner in the works. It is vital that you are always prepared for all possible eventualities by having all other relevant equipment in your bag for every game. While you might have to carry a heavier bag, you will be relieved when the day comes that you have what you need for the occasion.
There is a good chance that the opposition goalie is not as well prepared as you, which could present the difference between winning or losing on the day. By controlling what is within your control, you will be in a better place both physically and mentally when you step out onto the field and take up your position between the posts.