Through the continual development of my Goalkeeper Coaching, I have observed and been taught various coaching techniques and styles. Understanding that different coaching methods suit different abilities, ages or situations in game play. The one coaching technique that seems to have a varying degree of opinion is the scoop technique and the use of (or not) the ‘K-Position’.
There are different schools of thought when it comes to the ‘K-Position’, but each do have their own merits, albeit in differing situations.
The following diagram (figure 1), shows 3 figures doing 3 types of scoop catches.
1. Shows the Goalkeeper reaching down to the floor with feet close together, using the hands to let the ball roll up them, scooping the ball, eventually pulling the ball into the chest.
2. Shows the start of a ‘K-Position’ but not actually allowing the bent knee to fully touch the floor. Again using the hands to let the ball roll up them, scooping the ball.
3. Shows the ‘K-Position’. This is similar to 2., but with the bent knee touching the floor.
The biggest advantage of ‘K-Position’ is that by putting the knee down creates a second barrier, so that as a Goalkeeper you have a safeguard behind your hands acting as another ‘barrier’ in front of goal, that the ball would hit, if the ball does get through the hands…
However the ‘K-Position’ has a big disadvantage too, just ask Rob Green…
As we saw in the 2010 World Cup, when England played the USA, Rob Green had to deal with what seemed a tame shot. He made the decision to use the ‘K-Position’, and saw the ball end up in the back of the net. For the biggest disadvantage of the ‘K-Position’ is that once committed to it, your movement as a Goalkeeper is limited, so if the ball hits a divot and changes direction you are already committed and will find it as difficult as Rob Green did to recover…
This doesn’t mean that the ‘K-Position’ is truly bad, if used when completely behind a ball (ensuring movement to get into a position to take behind the ball), it is can be very effective. So one school of thought is to use it when dealing with slower balls… Or as Figure 1 drawing 2, to coach the Goalkeeper to not let the knee fully touch the ground as then you are not fully committed and have a little more flexibility in movement.
The other school of thought though, is not to use it at all, and to just coach as Figure 1 drawing 1, ensuring that the feet are not too far apart, so that the legs can become the second barrier. That if needed, when dealing with a faster ball, to either do a collapsing save (dropping down straight on top of the ball) or to smother the ball (by scoping the ball up but dropping forward onto the ball).
Which ever school of thought, each can be used and each have their merits… of which I am slowly starting to learn more about, and also of what their drawbacks might be. It is our job as Goalkeeper coaches to therefore understand each and of which would best suit the Goalkeepers we train. We can then assist them to make the right decision… However, that said, with the many different scenarios that could present themselves to a Goalkeeper in an actual game, it can sometime be difficult for any Goalkeeper to ensure that they make exactly the right choice. For they can only make one, which will be in the split second they have to think about it and one that they feel is the right one to do at the time.
Understanding these different techniques and deciding when to use and not to use which one, is why the life as a Goalkeeper has its challenges. With the biggest challenge being the critics, especially those who aren’t conscious of the fact that Goalkeepers have so many choices to make. As Rob Green discovered, choosing the ‘K-Position’, seemed right at the time (as it would for most Goalkeepers), as this seemed such a straight forward catch… but as we all saw it was a decision that meant yet again another Goalkeeper was to be slated by our unforgiving press. Just look at Joe Hart over the last 2 weeks, a hero for England against Brazil and then a Villain for Manchester City… or the ever slated David deGea, now lauded as one of the best Goalkeepers after his heroics for Manchester United to deny Real Madrid… and all because of the choices made… Who’d be a Goalkeeper… me definitely – it’s just too much fun! 😉