I am fairly sure I am going to unintentionally upset plenty of people with this blog but in my defence I am looking for opinions to better understand what to do.
Is there a position in youth football that causes more problems?
I am going to frame this blog by referring to players being permanent Goalkeepers in youth teams before they are old enough to play 11-a-side football.
I think issues arise for two reasons
1 – It is probably the least popular position.
2 – A youth team that has a permanent proficient Goalkeeper has a huge advantage.
This next bit is the bit that is most likely to upset people but in my experience it is true. Players want to play in goal permanently either because they want to be a Goalkeeper in the future or because they use it as a way to get on the team they want.
Now if we add adults into the mix who want to Coach winning teams and don’t want the hassle of asking someone to go in goal every week we start to get some real dilemmas.
I have heard many times of players being told that if they want to join a certain youth team then they have to be the Goalkeeper.
My club’s policy is up to playing 11-a-side we have no permanent Goalkeepers. If the player wants to be a Goalkeeper in the future then they can play half the games in goal or be in goal for half of every game. If there isn’t a player who wants to be a Goalkeeper then we rotate and each player takes a turn in goal.
I agree with this because it will help the development of a player who wants to a Goalkeeper in the future and it will help players who decide they no longer want to be Goalkeepers anymore.
The big problem for all players playing in a permanent position in youth football is that the players change as they get older plus the requirements to play a position change from youth to senior football. So a player who is suited to a position in youth football may not be suitable in senior football.
Plus I would suggest it is more difficult for a Goalkeeper to change position than it is for an outfield player to change to another outfield position.
Whether we like it or not height (or arm span) is a determining factor for many for Goalkeepers in senior football. Being average height (Males 5ft 10in, Females 5ft 4in) for a Goalkeeper means they will be considered a small Goalkeeper and so may have reduced options no matter how good a Goalkeeper.
In my experience many youth team Coaches will ignore the above completely if they get a child who will go in goal every week. They see a child who will go in goal as the answer to lots of short term problems. There is no thought beyond the current season and what affect it might have on the child.
Ironically I believe that the same Coaches who will play a young player in goal every week at U9s who has parents who are both under 5ft 6in are the same Coaches who would not look twice at a Goalkeeper who is less than 6 ft tall in senior football.
The reason for the Blog is my experience with permanent Goalkeepers in youth teams is that many are basically being used for the convenience of the adults involved and few are played in goal each week for the player’s development.
I would like to hear from other Coaches and what experiences they have had with Goalkeeping.
Please leave a comment or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Or possible leave a comment on Twitter @SeanDArcy66
Till next time
PS: I think I should point out that all players should have an equal chance to play in goal not just young players who have taller parents. However just like in all other positions on the field we have to develop a player to have as many options as possible to play senior football.