How many times do we see along the matchday these kinds of situations in the aerial game? The goalkeeper is caught in two minds off his line… loses the goal reference… Watch out! Because this is a very difficult situation to correct and interpret again, surprising though it may seem.
The rival’s starting position is not usual, because there are up to 4 players within the goal box. This makes the Sevilla score with four men, meaning the goalkeeper has 8 players inside the box. This context is undoubtedly uncomfortable and conditioning. Why? Because unconsciously and as a general rule, the goalkeeper tends to focus on the area of the first post in such cases, and what happens at his back is secondary.
Just at the moment of the corner kick, the most off-line players perform a little movement to the first post and the kicker shoots to the second post. It all happens here!
- We said that the 8 players disposition within the goal box conditions the goalkeeper to focus on that area unconsciously. But, does the goalkeeper turn his head to any side before the corner kick to see the disposition of his rivals/teammates and the playing options that could happen in that area? Do you think that “lateral head-turn” must always be done? Do you think that if he had done it his performance would have been different?
- The goalkeeper makes a trajectory calculation and decides to come off. It is true that the tendency of the ball changes just when the goalkeeper is making the movement but, regardless of this, he wasn’t going to be successful. And it’s at this point where one of the most common mistakes in these kinds of situations is made, because he only perceives the rival’s location during the movement, not before. This leaves the goalkeeper resourceless and “follows the ball like a rabbit” (expression we use with our goalkeepers as a joke), because he is caught in two minds off his line and loses the reference (to the goal) because he decided to come off.
What guidelines could we give to our goalkeepers when such situations arise?
The goalkeeper comes off to the aerial ball and during the movement itself he realises he is not going to be successful. Despite this, he keeps watching the tendency of the ball and follows the trajectory. When the rival/finisher reaches his visual field, he reacts with shock, because it’s too late (the goalkeeper is completely off his line).
PATTERN OF BEHAVIOUR
- We must generate dynamics in the drills where the goalkeeper is able to interpret what’s happening behind him. In order to do this, we must stress the orientation of the positioning and include variations before the cross, so they get used to turn their heads.
- Message to the goalkeeper: if the trajectory of the ball catches you unawares and disoriented, DO NOT follow the tendency of the ball. Remain aware of the box line and correct the position. Do not be caught in two minds off your line. Try to keep some distance/metres from the potential finisher. It is key to “remain still” just at the moment of the finishing, so you can buy some time to gain control over your body and react properly.
- In case the finisher is too close, and it is not possible to keep the distance, the goalkeeper must reduce by getting closer and cover as much space as possible in order to have a chance of success.