Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Central defenders make good stand-in goalkeepers

DavidClarke1Covering for the goalkeeper was brought sharply into focus on Sunday when our U14s ‘keeper felt ill at half time and said he couldn’t carry on. The game was a close one we were losing 2-1 but from my position as assistant referee (I get all the best jobs!) I felt it was certainly winnable.

We had therefore to change goalkeepers. My son used to play a lot as goalkeeper but hasn’t played in that position since the summer, but he was the best replacement. He was also instrumental in holding the ball on the left wing and playing it through to the attackers. The other thing he is good at is winning the ball off defenders high up the pitch which creates problems for the opposition, so to move him from there to goal gave two problems, filling that role and getting him to refocus on goalkeeping.

The match became difficult because the ball was quickly coming back at our defence with no one there to hold it up. Also my son was not coming out to get the ball like he would if he had been practicing more often.

The game turned when we went 3-1 down and there was no way back. There are a number of coaching points to be made here.

Make sure you give your reserve goalkeepers time in goal. With the U9s I play them in goal for a half every other game. It keeps them ready in case our main goalkeeper is unavailable or injured.

Goalkeeping gives central defenders a different view of the penalty area and makes them good at positioning themselves so that they can defend attacking shots if the goalkeeper has gone missing.

In this clip from the Champions League final 2008 between Chelsea and Manchester United, John Terry is in the ideal position to head the shot over the bar when his goalkeeper had gone to claim the ball and lost it. In the other clip Rio Ferdinand goes in goal and nearly saves a penalty after the Manchester Utd goalkeeper had been sent off. And another of Man Utd’s John O’Shea going in goal.

Central defenders get a good tactical view when they stand in for goalkeepers and it helps their defensive positional sense.

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