Keeper Training Increases in Popularity
Every Tuesday night throughout the fall at Proehlific Park, between 20-25 U8-10 junior academy/junior discovery players took part in goalkeeper sessions, working on the basic aspects of the position.
In addition, players work on ball striking and finishing each session. The ball striking and finishing have proven to be among the most popular parts of the session, and Shaun Abernathy and the goalkeeping Fusion staff has found that players who attend these sessions generally are better strikers of the ball
Each session has a unique mixture of different ages, levels and teams. Staff coaches develop competitive sessions and enjoy watching the boys and girls compete against one another in different activities. Especially enjoyable are the brother-sister combinations, which make for some interesting smack talk in finishing activities.
“I like that I get to practice with mostly boys and can stop their shots!” said Izzy Gray, one of the regular participants. “I like that Shaun is strict, but nice, and wants us to work hard and do well.”
The main goal of the program is to introduce players to the position and help them gain confidence when they are put in the goal during Junior Academy games.
“Identifying goalkeepers going into U11 is also a focus. All of our teams need goalkeepers, from the Development Academy/ECNL down to various levels of classic play.
“I’ve learned the proper way to hold my hands to catch the ball,” said Roe Angel, another regular at keeper training. “I’ve learned how to punch balls away that are high. I know how to ‘get low’ and make saves. Also Coach Shaun taught me how to block the balls I can’t catch or punch.”
Izzy Gray added, “I have learned to protect my face when I play goalie, that I need to run towards the player and not wait in the goal, keep my feet ready to move, and hold my hands like a “W” to have more chance to stop the ball.
Junior Academy directors Liam Brown and Noell McCain have done a great job to promote the program and encourage players to at least attend one session. Since the Fusion started the goalkeeper program three years ago, there’s been a steady increase in the number of participants.