It's the age old debate, is it better for my youth goalkeeper to do individual goalkeeper training sessions or group goalkeeper training sessions? It is an interesting topic that most goalkeeper parents go back and forth with. In this article, we will break down the pros and cons of each type of youth goalkeeper training session to give you all the information you need. There are a lot of factors that go into making the decision and, at the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference.
Individual Goalkeeper Training
There are plenty of positives that individual goalkeeper training provides. The most important benefit should be the individualized training session that is geared 100% towards the needs of the goalkeeper. I say "should" because this entire article is predicated on the assumption that the goalkeeper coach you are working with is knowledgeable and competent. Individual sessions should be geared towards improving key deficiencies in the goalkeeper that is training. Identifying areas of improvement and building sessions tailored towards those needs.
To go along with that, individual sessions allow the coach to provide consistent and detailed individualized feedback throughout the session. Every rep of the session is focused on the goalkeeper and the coach is only focused on the individual goalie's technique. The amount of reps that a goalkeeper gets in a session typically increase in an individual session as well. Quality repetitions breed growth for goalkeepers and individual sessions should be structured to provide the goalkeeper the volume of repetition needed on a consistent basis.
Individual goalkeeper sessions can be very limiting in terms of the variety of repetitions goalkeepers will get. One coach and one goalkeeper means there is only the ability to have one server. It is very difficult to replicate game-like situations on a consistent basis in this type of environment. Goalkeeper coaches can't replicate coming through traffic to claim a cross, or the speed of a one v one situation, in an individual session. It can be hard to fully translate the work you are doing, in an individual session, to your performance in games because of this lack of game-like exposure in training.
Pacing an individual session can also be hard, especially for newer coaches who don't have the experience or rapport with the goalkeeper. Poorly paced sessions can lead to overworking the goalkeeper and causing excess fatigue or training burnout. There is a fine line between increased reps and overwork. Oftentimes, goalkeeper coaches feel the pressure from parents to "make their kid sweat" and so they push the kid as hard as they can for 60 minutes. Working hard does not mean you are working smart and it doesn't mean you are doing the things that are necessary to help you improve. A drenched and exhausted goalkeeper isn't always a positive.
To go along with the idea of overworking, there is also the issue of over-coaching, specifically in individual sessions. This is particularly a worry in these types of sessions because it's just the goalkeeper and the coach. Oftentimes, the coach feels like they have to correct every single issue or fill dead space with conversation. This can lead to over-coaching, which can be frustrating and confusing for the goalkeeper. As goalkeeper coaches, we have an obligation to help youth goalkeepers develop. Part of that development is helping them to learn how to analyze their own game and make adjustments accordingly. We provide them with the skills necessary to do so. At some point, we have to let go of the reigns a bit and let the goalkeepers figure it out. When we provide too much feedback as coaches, young goalkeepers struggle to process everything and it can lead to poor performance.
Group Goalkeeper Training
The joys of group goalkeeper training! The sky is the limit in terms of what a coach can do with the goalkeeping group. Of course, this all depends on the skill level of the goalkeepers. Finding a good group of goalkeepers, and a coach, to work with on a consistent basis can be a huge difference maker for a youth goalkeeper. The ability to expand on the variety of goalkeeping activities that a coach can do in a session is the most obvious benefit of group training. Multiple servers gives the coach the ability to create a variety of game-like situations that they simply couldn't happen during individual sessions. Again, this is all dependent on the level of the goalkeepers involved so that should be a factor when deciding between training types as well.
While goalkeepers may not get as many reps in a group goalkeeper training session, if done properly, the goalkeepers are always improving their technique whether they are working or serving. Group sessions allow for the goalkeepers to also become servers, which can naturally improve their ball striking and confidence on the ball. Too often, goalkeepers don't take this role seriously and neglect to realize the opportunity they have to continuously work on their technique. Distribution is one of the most often requested aspects of goalkeeper training that parents want their players to work on but both parents and goalkeepers fail to acknowledge the work that is done almost every group session.
The last benefits to touch on are the intangible aspects that group goalkeeper training provides. A lot of the goalkeepers we work with want to play at a higher level. Whether that level is college soccer or professionally, they both have one thing in common: the goalkeeping group. Once your goalkeeper hits college, or the pros, they will be immersed in a training environment that will revolve around competition. Individual sessions are a rarity at the college or professional level unless you are proactive about it. The daily training environment will involve training, and competing, with other goalkeepers throughout training. Preparing yourself for this environment will be crucial to your success at the next level.
Group goalkeeper training can be tough for a variety of reasons. Meshing personalities and skill levels can be particularly tough. Developing an environment where everyone feels comfortable to train, and make mistakes, is one of the hardest aspects of putting a group of goalkeepers together. Combine that with the fact that goalkeepers of the same age aren't always of the same level, and you have an extremely tough task on your hands. This is often the issue with youth club goalkeeper training. The skill levels vary between goalkeepers so much that it becomes more detrimental than beneficial for the individual goalkeepers.
The size of the group can also be a detriment to the goalkeepers involved. If sessions aren't properly staffed then goalkeepers can be left to stand on the sideline, not getting the proper repetitions they need to improve, or forced to receive consistently poor service from goalkeepers who aren't at the proper level. 50 goalkeepers in a session is fine, as long as there are enough coaches to provide a quality training session. To go along with the size of the group, these sessions tend to limit the amount of individualized feedback that goalkeepers can get from coaches.
In conclusion, there are pros and cons for both individual goalkeeper training and group goalkeeper training. It is up to you to decide what is best for the goalkeeper. Individual goalkeeper training sessions can be very beneficial if you want to focus on improving basic technique or movements. These sessions allow you to focus solely on you. But these sessions have limits and parents need to understand those limits and also understand what their goal for training is. Whether it's individual training or group training, if you don't have specific goals in mind for what you want to achieve then neither will be as effective as you would like them to be. Along those lines, if the goalkeeper doesn't share those same goals then it will be extremely hard to take the strides necessary to justify the costs of training. To learn more about the youth goalkeeper training that we offer in Charlotte, North Carolina head over to our website now!
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