HOW TO PLAY ‘THE SWEEPER KEEPER’

THE SWEEPER KEEPER

The days of the goalkeeper simply being someone who stops shots at the goal are long over. The modern goalkeeper must be able to play as well outside of the Penalty Area as he does inside it.
He must be willing to venture outside of the Penalty Area to intercept long through balls played between or over the fullback line. He must be able to clear the ball first time, or control it and try to maintain possession via a short pass or a long ball.
Sometimes he may even be called upon to use his head to clear a ball bouncing dangerously outside of the Penalty Area!
He must be willing to accept back-passes from his teammates and deal with them in an effective manner.
To do these jobs effectively ALL goalkeepers must continuously practice with the ball at their feet, but most IMPORTANTLY a goalkeeper positioning must be precise.
Below I have listed a few tips to help a goalkeeper effectively become a successful SWEEPER KEEPER

  1. POSITIONING – A goalkeeper should always be moving as the ball moves around the pitch, do not be afraid to leave your area when the ball is in the other half, this will allow you to sweep up any balls played over the top of your defence. Your position is judged on how safe you feel that the opposition cannot hit a long ball over your head the more you play the more experience you will gain in judging this. The goalkeeper should not always stay in the centre of the goal either, when the ball moves to the right the goalkeeper should also shuffle to the right. A good guide to achieve this position is always have an imaginary line from the centre of your goal to where the ball is, and you can then position yourself on the imaginary line after judging how far you need to be off your line, AGAIN the more you play the more the more naturally you will take up the correct position
  2. CLEARING THE BALL & PLAYING OUT FROM THE BACK – Now that you have your positioning correct, you need to ensure you make the correct decisions when receiving the ball (i) Your first touch needs to be precise and out of your feet slightly to the left or right of your body so you can step into the ball to either pass or clear long. It is essential that you practice your first touch, as a bad touch can get a goalkeeper into serious trouble.
  3. WATCH THE PROFESSIONALS – These days a lot of young Football fans watch matches on the TV, where you CAN NOT continuously watch a Goalkeeper during the match and be aware of his position in relation to where the ball is on the field. When I was growing up I used to attend Swindon Town every week and learnt a huge amount on positioning from attending these games, I HIGHLY recommend that any young goalkeeper go and attend their local Professional Club and to watch the Professional Keeper closely.
  4. ACCEPTING A BACK PASS – When looking to receive a Back Pass one of the first rules is to ensure there is as MUCH SPACE as possible between you (the Keeper) and the defending passing the ball back to you, this is because the closer you get to the defender the more chance there is of a mix up to happen. So on this occasion you need to back off and also use a loud shout KEEPER’S ON and also make a hand single to the area you would like to be played back to you, ideally this would be a position wide of the goal. AGAIN your first touch is key, it must be out of your feet either to the left or right of your body so you can efficiently step on to the ball and either pass or clear long. Sometimes you may need to play a back pass first time, DO NOT try and hit the ball as far as possible, I recommend you use your side foot and aim towards the wings of the pitch, this will give less chance of a mistake and if it is a bad clearance it will be out of the danger area

I hope these tips will help you improve your game as a Goalkeeper, these are the basic principles I used during 18 years as a Professional Goalkeeper
If you would like any additional advice please feel free to contact me on my personal email mattj4k@hotmail.com OR for a FREE Goalkeeper Coaching with me or another professional Goalkeeper please go to www.goalkeepergloves.ie