Despite the football evolution in the last decades, the aerial game is still one of the most valued skills by trainers and goalkeeping coaches when choosing a goalkeeper. At the moment, having a goalkeeper in the goal that not only executes this action well, but also interpret properly this kind of action is a great “life insurance”.
We could say that the aerial game is a handicap for most goalkeepers, since they weren’t trained properly in the childhood, or this is about an action with a big “personality” determinant factor… And we add to all this the quality of the kick – crosses that the players perform today, thing that makes even harder for the goalkeeper to make a good interpretation, take a decision or execute properly.
In this first post about the aerial game, we’ll talk in a very general way, avoiding complex analysis, since our intention is getting into this action-situation little by little. To this end, we make this simple first analysis in order to understand and reflect on the different consequences. Then, we’ll mark a technical pattern and we’ll finish with some drills we found on the Internet and that we can add to our training sessions, regardless the category we are coaching, without forgetting some methodological connotations that we will be giving throughout the article.
SEQUENCING AND STRUCTURE OF THE AERIAL GAME
We call positioning – base position to the level the goalkeeper position himself longitudinal and transversely and to the body structure that the goalkeeper adopts before a possible cross.
A proper mechanics in this “sequence” will favour all the rest of them.
What does positioning depend on?
- On the player with the ball
- On the player and his/her body position
- On the player and teammates and rivals’ location
- On the player and the game space
- On the player and his/her chances
In the next posts we’ll talk in more detail about the main stimulus that intervene in the interpretation of situations from the goalkeeper, since the analysis is quite broad.
We call trajectory calculation to the trend that the ball adopts after the rival’s kick.
This sequence is one of the most sensitive, since depending on the age-category in which we are coaching, the goalkeeper will have developed or not the skill of calculate space-time.
What does trajectory calculation depend on?
It mainly depends on the player with the ball and his/her kick:
- Natural leg
- Changed leg
Another of the factors we must pay attention to is the weather factor, since it may considerably change the ball direction.
We call movement the act of moving from one site to other. And we call impulsion leg to the leg the goalkeeper gets impulse with in order to approach the ball.
Depending on the player with the ball and the area the ball is heading to, the goalkeeper will choose between one type of movement of another:
TYPES OF MOVEMENTS
Depending on the ball direction, impulse with the opposite leg to the side we are moving to and lift to protect ourselves and balance the impulsion of the leg towards the side we are moving to.
There are several technical actions as shown in the grid above and they will depend on lots of factors such as the location of teammates, rivals, chances, the weather… For that purpose, the goalkeeper must interpret the situation and execute the most suitable action.
Within the different technical action, we’ll go further (in a general way) into the aerial catching, since this is the first step taught in the lower categories and normally the most trained, within the aerial game in professional stages.
– HANDS AND ARMS POSITION
The palms of the hands should be behind the ball, joining the thumbs symmetrically, simulating the shape of a triangle. The fingers must never be stiff, but they should adopt the shape of the ball, keeping a slightly tension.
The arms will be in front of the body axis, as stretched as possible with the intention of catching the ball in the highest point (there are chances in the game of ignoring the body axis, but the priority at these ages should be to keep it).
– CUSHIONING OF THE BALL
After the catching action, the goalkeeper will perform a small cushioning of the ball bending the elbows towards the head, in case of frontal catching. Once the cushioning action is done, he/she will take the ball to the chest to protect it.
– CUSHIONING OF THE LOWER BODY
The contact with the floor can be performed with both legs or with only one. If the goalkeeper decides to use only one leg, the contact will be done with the hop leg, coming the other leg into contact immediately after the first one and at the front of it.
Surfing the net, we found interesting things…
A simple drill we can add to our warm ups and we can use for all the categories.
For instance, in this video we watch how we can guide a strength exercise towards the aerial game. In this case, the resistance elastic bands drills are always a good choice (if we know how to use them) to work the movement and the jump strength.
A drill in spaces more open with play from the back and proper equipment that simulate those real contexts we’ll find on the matchday.