With Goalkeeping, Experience Is Everything
September 3, 2007
Oliver Khan played an immense 535 Bundesliga games for Bayern Munich just the other day…which equates to…hold on a sec…48,150 minutes between the sticks! I get many emails from readers around the world with the same sort of tune, ie. I want to play at the highest level, or trial with the biggest super club on the planet, often ending with United at the end of it (and it ain’t Sydney United either)!
Now, when asked about how often they have played, at a highly competitive level, I usually get the answer “Well, I’m playing with my local kick around club” (or something along these lines). Making it to the higher echelons of competitive football means that you have played week in and week out…at a high level.
Larger sporting organizations look to game time as a sign of experience and maturity for the competitive goalkeeper. Sadly, this is where the “goalkeeping conundrum” as I call it, kicks in. How do you get around playing “experience” (ie. game time), when you have been playing for your club and not getting any game time at all (especially at an elite level)?
Local Pick-up Games: If you can get a full 90 minutes with a local team, you can increase your game time, and also enhance your performance. There are many teams that are looking for players who don’t play at an elite level, but do have some very good experienced players. I’ve come across some very good kick around teams with elite players who have moved on from the game but still like to have a kick. It’s a great way of getting your hands dirty, but also learning from experienced (non-elite players) who have gone before you.
Transfer Your Skills: If you are playing for an elite club and not getting much game time, chat with your coach to see if there is any room for you to move to a sister club (many elite clubs have sister clubs) so that you can get some full game time. This way you are still aligned with your elite club, but get full game experience somewhere else.
Link Up: If you have friends from other clubs, or guys that you train with whom have some extra time during the week, get together with them for some 6 a-side on small goals. This way, you get to have some fun with players you know and respect, and get some extra game practice, with different skill sets required on the small goals.
So don’t let a lack of play get you down, get creative and most importantly hungry. Every goalkeeper can increase their time between the sticks and playing experience by finding new and undiscovered outlets to gain some added match practice.