HANDBALL GOALKEEPER POSITIONING
I got inspired to write this blog post after receiving a message from one of the goalkeepers that I coached online this year. Well, to be honest – I have worked with that young, talented goalkeeper in live a few years ago, in one of my many camps in Denmark. And then we worked online on different goalkeeping topics in 2021, and then again this spring (on saves of the wing shots, and on mental training).
It’s always so rewarding and amazing for me as a coach to be able to work with someone like this particular goalkeeper – she is extremely dedicated, hardworking, persistent, self-analytical, willing to improve, willing to challenge herself, to change and improve what’s not working in her goalkeeping.
In the message that she sent me, she just wanted to inform me that her team won the championship for their region in Denmark, and that in some of the saves she used my technique of correcting her position.
This reminded me that I want to share with more coaches and goalkeepers the idea of how working on the correction of the position is equally important as the positioning, and sometimes it’s actually even more important in order to be able to make a successful save reaction! 🙂
HOW SHOULD THE GOALKEEPER POSITION PROPERLY IN FRONT OF THE GOAL?
The success of save reactions for every goalkeeper depend so much on the success of goalkeeper’s proper position in front of the goal.
It’s important to add and highlight that proper goalkeeper positioning in front of the goal includes also a correction of the previously made position when and if needed.
Goalkeeper positioning is conditioned by the position of the ball – where ever is the shooting hand with the ball of the player who is intending to shoot – that is where the goalkeeper should be positioned square opposite to the ball (shooting hand with the ball of the player who is executing the shot). The other way to say it would be that the goalkeeper needs to be positioned in the angle of 90 degrees in regards to the direction of the incoming ball.
The principle of proper positioning is fairly simple.
But what precedes it is the ability to properly and timely perceive the visual cue/visual input (which is the position of the ball at all times), to create a needed outcome based on that visual input, and then to create the outcome (which, in handball goalkeeping means performing a save reaction/movement).
THE IMPORTANCE OF IMPROVING THE SPEED OF INFORMATION PROCESSING AND THE SPEED OF DECISION MAKING
In my coaching, I like to put a big focus on improving the speed of information processing + improving the speed of decision making, besides on working on a proper goalkeeper technique of course.
Or better to say – on working on many different techniques, actually, because I want my goalkeepers to have a wide variety of techniques / ways to react, so that a) they wouldn’t be predictable and b) that they could execute as many different save reaction movements as needed in different situations.
Improving goalkeeper’s ability to see faster + to make a decision about what to do about what they saw + do something about it, will make our goalkeepers more successful.
If our goalkeepers are fast to get a visual cue/ visual input (seeing where is the ball, which player is going to execute the shot) + to create the idea of needed outcome (to decide what, how and when is needed to do in order to react to the incoming shot) + to execute the outcome (the save reaction movement), then they will be successful in making a lot of saves.
In my coaching work with young goalkeepers, I like to make a great basis in good positioning in the goal – which means that I want my goalkeepers to understand really well the importance of always having a good position in the goal, and when needed – to correct their position.
Very important detail is that the goalkeeper shouldn’t stop its positioning as soon as the shooter jumps. I am very insistent on that detail and this is especially important if we are working on saves of shots from the wing positions, or shots from 6 meters line.
GOALKEEPER’S ANTICIPATION AND PREPARATION TO REACT TO THE INCOMING SHOT
Besides the position of the body and especially the shooting hand of the shooter, there are a few other important factors that will impact the outcome / the direction of the incoming shot: position and engagement of our defence – is our defence active or passive, where and how our defenders are positioned; is there only one defender, or a few defenders, is the shooter keeping the same position of their body and shooting arm during the shot, or are they trying to open more space to get better shooting angle…
To successfully perceive and follow all of these possibilities and to position properly + react timely on the incoming shot, our goalkeepers need to be able to anticipate, expect, and conclude when, how and if they need to correct their position.
They need to be able to get a visual cue from what they see + to create the idea of the outcome (save reaction movement they want to make) + to execute the save reaction movement.
Every good goalkeeper is able to make saves because of its proper position in front of the goal. Big percentage of a success in saving any shot for every goalkeeper is in being able to prepare, to get ready for the shot, and that is possible by being positioned properly in regards to the position and movement of the shooter.
To be able to position properly + to execute a great save in any given moment = a goalkeeper needs to be able to position properly in regards to the player with the ball, or to correct its position in front of the goal when and if needed.
To be able to do all of that, goalkeepers need to move and position their bodies in an expected / predictable situations and outcomes, but also to be able to do that in an unexpected/unpredictable situations and outcomes.
It’s a no brainer to conclude that, in order to do all of that – goalkeepers need to be able to control their body movement and body position at all times in front of the goal in many different variations and situations.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO PAY ATTENTION TO IN TRAINING WHEN WORKING ON PROPER GOALKEEPER POSITIONING
One of the main focusing points in work with young goalkeepers in the very beginning should be the footwork + body control + ability to position body properly in any given moment.
There are many different and good ways how we can work on these things.
When working on the proper goalkeeper positioning in front of the goal, it’s very important to include in a goalkeeper training:
- Preview of shooting angles in the goal (both from the goalkeeper and from shooter’s perspective)
- Theoretical and practical knowledge and understanding of the importance to position square opposite to the shooter’s hand with the ball (or to be positioned on 90 degrees in regards to the incoming direction of the ball)
- Proper and balanced body position in basic goalkeeper stance
- Interrupting a proper, basic goalkeeper stance with different tasks + challenging a goalkeeper to return as fast as possible into a proper basic stance position
- Lateral movement in basic stance
- The ability to suddenly change the direction of sideways movement from the left to the right side, and vice versa, while maintaining balanced and proper position of the body in basic stance
- Forward / backwards movement in basic stance
- Transition from the lateral movement in basic stance into a forward movement (stepping towards the shooter for shots from 6 meters line, or for the wing shots)
- Correction of the goalkeeper position, either before or after stepping forward – towards the shooter (for shots from 6 meters line, or for shots from the wing positions), or just after the lateral/sideways positioning (for shots from 9 meters). This correction of the goalkeeper position can be done with lateral / sideway steps to the left or to the right, depending on the final position of shooter’s arm with the ball which is indicating the direction of the incoming shot
The point is that we need to teach our goalkeepers to always position properly, but also to correct their position, in regards to the movement/position of the shooter’s hand with the ball.
Very common challenge in work with young goalkeepers is that they a) don’t position good in regards to the shooter, b) don’t correct their position while the shooter continues to open or change the shooting angle.
So if you were planning to join, go ahead and register to book your spot for the next launch!
THE USE OF AGILITY LADDERS FOR WORK ON PROPER GOALKEEPER POSITIONING
One of the very useful and practical ways to work on footwork, body position, body control, and coordination is by using properly some of the agility ladder drills.
Agility ladder drills can improve foot contact, body control, rhythm, coordination, foot/lower-leg stiffness, and CNS activation – all of which can translate into more effective movement in any sport.
For agility ladder drills to be truly effective, coaches should challenge their athletes with drills that they are not familiar with, with patterns that sometimes feel unknown and awkward, and with drills that require them to slow down and think about what they are doing.
We can get this by using the novelty approach – by using new, unknown patterns of movements.
This was one of the main guiding thoughts that I had while I was creating my agility ladder drills video compilation which has 102 drills ideas that every coach can get inspired by and expand on in their own work with agility ladders.
To purchase the video with 102 agility ladder drills and accompanying PDF with the list of all drills and time stamps for each drill, please check out this link.
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As always, feel free to let me know your thoughts, comments, and questions about the topic of this blog in comments below! I love reading your insights! 🙂