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Keeper Questions: Getting a shy one to speak -- and in useful manner
by Tim Mulqueen, August 10th, 2013 2:06AM



By Tim Mulqueen

I have a U-13 keeper who is big for his age, has talent and skill, but for the life of me I can't get him to be a vocal keeper. He is a soft-spoken shy guy who will just not speak up and direct things from the back. Any suggestions to help change this?

This is a common problem for many young keepers. The main thing is that he has talent. You can use that to help him get out of his shell and begin talking.

Maybe it’s his personality that keeps him from talking in goal. That is OK. He doesn't have to be boisterous or inspirational. He just needs to speak when it is appropriate and give useful information.

Too many keepers when told to communicate become cheerleaders or talk only to the negative plays of their teammates. Both of these situations are bad. I would rather have a keeper say nothing then do either.

Here are some bullet points that can hopefully help him become more assertive in goal:

1. Use his talent to give him confidence to speak. Help him comprehend his place in the team and his leadership potential.

2. Stand with him in training games and help him with what to say. He maybe talented but may not read the game well and needs help in what to say and when.

3. Make him organize activities in training. An example; have him pick his team; or pick his backs. Anything that makes him address the group.

4. Make a vocabulary list of verbiage you would like him to use. For instance: clear, tackle, away, force left (or) right, keeper, etc.

5. In training games have him play in the field as a back so he has to organize those players around him. It will also help in his reading of the game.

This should be more than enough to start the process. Be patient and supportive. The keeper needs to realize that you will support him in what is not a natural part of his makeup.

Make sure he is communicating important messages and not narrating the game or cheerleading. If he does that, the important messages will be lost. He needs to speak in a firm and commanding voice but with a calmness and confidence to his words.

(Tim Mulqueen, author of the "The Complete Soccer Goalkeeper: Techniques & Tactics For Stopping Every Shot," is a U.S. Soccer Federation coach and instructor who has been goalkeeper coach for U.S. national teams at the U-17 World Cup, U-20 World Cup and Olympic Games. He's been a goalkeeper coach in MLS, for the MetroStars, and the Kansas City Wizards when they lifted the 2000 league title. Mulqueen is the head coach of Chargers SC’s U-13/14 U.S. Soccer Development Academy team and Director of Sports of the Premier Sports Campus at Lakewood Ranch, Fla.)

Send your goalkeeper questions to Tim Mulqueen via

Previous Keeper Questions columns:
Coaching Consistency; How to Spice Up Training
Dressing, and warming up, for success
Holiday Activities; Eye on the Ball

  1. Carl Walther
    commented on: August 14, 2013 at 10:46 a.m.
    Really good advice. (From a Psychologist)
  1. Stephen Fixx
    commented on: August 14, 2013 at 11:48 a.m.
    Perhaps he just doesn't like his kit? But seriously, so much of youth coaching is psychological isn't it Dr. Walther? And this is where we benefit their personal growth through sports the most. I wonder if his social standing with his peers may not allow him to boss them around. Coach, try to reinforce the keepers role with his teammates so that they understand it's not personal when he SHOUTS at them. When I was a parent coach I always saw all the kids as equals, yet was constantly surprised when my son would make a statement about the relative social standing of various players off the field and at school. I took it as an opportunity to better integrate the player and boost his or her self-confidence.

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