This edition of Tech Tuesday is a longer read related to Cross Management and Taking an Effective Starting Position.
If you have any questions after reading through this information and sharing it with your goalkeeper, please feel free to ask me or any of our Storm GK Coaches.
For our youngest goalkeepers, these scenarios will not be common to their environment and level. At those ages, due to the smaller field dimensions, the developing strength of field players, and the growing technical ability - true "crossing" is not a significant factor of the game. In fact, in a study done by Swansea City FC with their U9-U12 goalkeepers in the 2015-16 season, dealing with crosses accounted for only 2% of all actions they performed over the course of the season.
However, at the competitive level (U11+) goalkeepers MUST be willing to exit their goal mouth to intercept or interfere with crosses, high through balls, and set pieces. Their ability to do that will be based on several factors: Starting Position, Athleticism, Timing, and Technique. The most crucial piece to ensuring an opportunity to make a play on a cross is Starting Position.
Goalkeepers should start by adopting good body shape:
- Hands held in front of the body, feet shoulder width apart, weight on the balls of the feet, legs loaded with energy and ready to act based on the flight of the ball.
- Goalkeeper starts in an "open" stance - meaning he is not facing square to the ball, nor square only to the field. He opens his hips so that he can be aware of the area in front of him and the area behind him, without taking his eyes of the ball.
- This stance allows the GK to move forward or backward easily, avoiding backpedaling and off-balance movements.
The goalkeeper must take into consideration several factors when dealing with balls played from the wings. How the goalkeeper understands and uses these factors will greatly improve his chances of success.
The first thing the goalkeeper needs to consider is the position of the ball on the field of play. When the ball is positioned on the wings, the goalkeeper must utilize his wing play tactics and adjust his position accordingly. The goalkeeper must consider "where exactly" on the wings is the ball positioned?
The ball could be located in three general areas on the wings:
1) Wide and Far Away from the Goal
2) Wide and Within shooting distance of the Goal
3) Wide and at a tight angle to the goal (close to the end line)
Where the ball is positioned will act as a visual cue to indicate where and how the GK should stand in the goal area.
One of the things the goalkeeper can do to ensure that he is positioned perfectly in the goal is to imagine a straight line running out from the center of the goal towards the penalty spot (Green Line) below.
The goalkeeper should stand somewhere along this line when positioning himself for balls being played from the wings (crosses).
Once the goalkeeper is positioned on this line the only thing he must do now is read the position of the ball to determine how 'Far Out' along this imaginary line he should position himself.