Youth: Mastering the Goalkeeper Dive
Nov 25, 2019
*This article is part of an educational series for soccer parents and players new to soccer*
As a youth soccer player, it’s important to learn how to properly accomplish key skills and techniques early on in your career. Learn these skills early on, and you’ll establish a solid background that will serve you well for your future career. Learn these essential skills incorrectly and you risk not only intense physical injury but you put your future in the game in jeopardy.
One skill that’s essential for any youth soccer goalkeeper to master is the goalkeeper dive. There are a few different types of goalkeeper dives commonly used in soccer. Today, we’re going to break each of them down, and teach you how to perform them accurately and safely every time.
It’s not enough to simply learn how to do these dives. If you can’t dive over and over again, your effectiveness as a goalkeeper is limited. Performing these dives incorrectly could quickly lead to an injury that sidelines you from the game for weeks or even months.
Importance of Mastering the Goalkeeper Dive
If you’re actively training as a soccer goalkeeper, you’ll understand the importance of a great goalkeeper dive. It represents the agility and quick reaction time that are integral to goalkeeping success. The earlier a goalie starts practicing these moves, the more confidently they’re able to execute them.
Throwing yourself into the air or onto the pitch after a fast-moving ball can feel intimidating. Learning slowly, and getting comfortable with the movements gradually is the best way to ensure that this technique becomes second nature. When you’re in the middle of a game and a ball is inches away from the goal, there’s no time for doubt or hesitation.
Learning the Basics
To ensure that you’re able to complete a technically perfect goalkeeper dive every time without hesitation, you need to start with the basics. Many coaches even use a soft crash mat during their goalkeeper’s first few training sessions. This gets the goalkeeper accustomed to the movement without the strain of impact.
It may feel more comfortable for the goalkeeper to start with a ground dive, then move towards mastery of the aerial dive. Don’t be afraid to work your way up slowly, until you feel comfortable with each movement.
As a youth player, technique is the most important thing to learn. Reaction times can improve, and confidence will grow. If you learn the techniques incorrectly, it will take a lot of hard work and dedication to retrain your body to move in a different way. Skip this headache, and learn it correctly the first time around.
The ground dive is what occurs when a goalie makes a dive parallel to the ground to reach the ball faster. Not much height is gained, but if it’s done correctly, it gives the goalkeeper the burst of speed necessary to reach the ball in time.
Proper form for a ground dive starts with the leg closest to the ball. As soon as you see the ball coming towards you, bring that leg as close as possible to the ground while leaning towards the incoming ball. The goalkeeper then pushes off the ground and stretches their arm out towards the ball.
Depending on where in the dive the goalkeeper meets the ball, they can either tip it away from the goal or gather it into their body. The best landing occurs when the goalkeeper lands on their hip and shoulder, rather than their much more delicate wrist. This helps to avoid finger or hand injuries, which are extremely common for soccer goalkeepers.
Once you’ve studied the proper form of a ground dive, you can set up a drill for yourself by placing two different colored balls or cones on opposites sides of your body. A friend or coach then calls out ‘left’ or ‘right’, and the goalkeeper dives towards each one when prompted.
This drill is a great way to reinforce the proper dive form and improve reaction times.
A proper aerial dive is spectacular to watch. It involves the goalkeeper launching themselves upwards to stop the ball in mid-air. A strong leg movement gives the dive explosive upward power, enabling the goalkeeper to reach shots that are directed into the upper corners of the goal.
Like the ground dive, great aerial dive form starts in the legs. A strong stance with the legs hip-width apart allows the player to make a quick step towards the ball, then push upwards with the foot that’s closest to the fast-moving ball. Swinging the arms upwards gives more lift, and placing the hands together in a ‘W’ shape ensures you’re blocking the ball with enough force to stop it in its tracks.
The landing should primarily impact the hip and shoulder, and as you land, look for the ball and shield it with your body.
The best way to practice aerial dives is to work with a fellow player or coach. Have them fire shots upwards so you can practice diving into the air. Ask them to move around and fire shots from different sides, so you can get accustomed to both your dominant and non-dominant hands leading the dive.
Wear & Maintaining the Right Equipment
It’s hard to practice the best techniques as a soccer goalkeeper without the right equipment. So much of your gameplay uses your hands and giving them the best protection possible is extremely important.
That’s why youth goalkeepers love using the different gloves we have in stock. All these gloves help ensure a tight grip and come with added safety features that help protect vulnerable wrists and fingers.
If you’re running these drills on a regular basis, you may also want to invest in a pair of sliding shorts, which help protect the legs from painful turf burn. They even contain built-in padding on the hips, which serve as the first line of protection when doing aerial or ground dives.
If you’re out on the pitch practicing your dives, it’s easy to work up a sweat. This is where GloveGlu Wash & Prepare spray comes in handy. This spray helps to remove odors caused by nasty bacteria, keeping your gloves in great shape for game day.At Storelli, we know that great dive technique won’t happen overnight – but with our resources and gear, we can help you get there faster.