During the past 2 weeks at our J4K North Devon academy we have been working on cross taking and highlighting the importance of commanding your area and having the confidence to come out for crosses.
It can be a very daunting task at any level especially at grassroots level. Its a skill every goalkeeper should learn to command their six yard box, and if you can grow your confidence to come for crosses, this gives more confidence to your team and will most certainly make you stand out ahead of your competition.
When I do my goalkeeper training in Bideford on coming for a cross, there are key areas I cover and coach.
- Your starting position in relation to the ball and goal. Meaning the angle of your body, how far you are off your line and standing in the correct position in the goal. This position can also be determined by the body shape of the attacking player, are they left or right footed, will the ball in swing or out swing.
- Assess the flight of the ball, theres that saying ‘fools rush in’.. I see a lot of keepers get sucked in to areas where the ball is being kicked from and get underneath the ball. Take that split second longer to assess the ball.
- When you have assessed the ball, MAKE YOUR DECISION EARLY. Do you stay or go? With this comes communication and 2 commands… If you decide to stay, give a loud clear shout of AWAY!
And then defend the goal by taking up a position square on to where the shot is going to come from. This call lets your defenders know to try and deal with the ball. If you decide to come, this time make a big quick clear shout of ‘KEEPERS!’
- Catching the ball at the highest safest point, by recreating the ‘W’ hand shape with the ball in front of you and the cushion comes from a slight flex in the elbows and soft hands with strong wrists.
- I prefer a 1 footed take off raising the knee to gain leverage and protection. There is the option of a 2 footed jump which can also be used in different situations.
- Be positive, your 1st thought should be to catch and then if your stretched or meet traffic PUNCH!
Your going to make mistakes and that is all part of your development, I always say to my students ‘if you watch MOTD this weekend you will see a pro keeper make a mistake when coming for a cross’
Its a situation where there can be a lot of factors that might intimidate young keepers, the weather conditions, the pitch conditions, the size of the opponents, self confidence. Like any skill it takes practise to improve and by recreating realistic practise within the sessions the students will gain the understanding and experience to develop.
If possible depending on your experience and the experience of your team coach, ask your coach to tell your defenders that when you shout keepers to come and collect the cross, that they protect you by running across the opposition players route to the ball.
When assessing the ball take small adjustment steps, if you take big steps towards where you think the ball is going its a lot harder to adjust your position.
Call early, this then allows you to concentrate on the technique of collecting the cross. You will see a lot of young keepers calling in the same motion of jumping and attempting to catch the ball. This can cause all sorts of trouble in terms of your ability to catch and having defenders going for the same ball.
Watch pro keepers and have a look at their starting position, when they choose to come for the ball and when to defend the goal.
Thanks for reading….
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