I have mulled over writing this blog for a few days....particularly after our U-17 National Team's humbling experience in Brazil. Not very good for the US.
But, I'm not here to rag on the U-17s or the US Soccer Federation. Rather, I'm here to discuss how does a GK prepare him/herself to play on a team who's tactics are to build out of the back. (It's a very popular tactic for most teams right now)
The answer is pretty simple. GKs have to spend a lot of time with the ball at their feet. (In addition to all of the specified GK training that they do!)
I see a LOT of young GKs that are not 'comfortable' with the ball. When I say 'not comfortable', I mean not comfortable with he ball at their feet. Not comfortable making a solid 20 yard pass. Not comfortable receiving a pass-back while under just a little bit of pressure. Not comfortable making the 'right' decision with the ball at their feet, and where to play the 'next' ball.
I see a LOT of young GKs that are VERY comfortable saving shots, or taking crosses, or even dealing with 1v1s. But playing the ball with feet?
Not. So. Much.
Thankfully, this deficit can be easily addressed and reasonably improved/corrected in a reasonable amount of time. My first suggestion is that GK Coaches need to spend logical amounts of their training time on having their GKs play the ball with feet. This can be through routine serving, shooting, hitting balls at goal for the 'working GK'. But also, making the GKs train at passing the ball quickly to each other (feet only) as part of the training session warm-up. Most GK coaches on a High School, College, or Pro team deal with 3 to 4 GKs at training. I advocate spending the first 10-15 minutes (after dynamic warm-ups) "knocking the ball around" to each other. And I mean, training at hitting good, firm, solid passes using 3, 2, and 1-touch respectively. The GKs should be under a little pressure to perform these tasks 'cleanly'and effectively. Start small--7 yards apart--and move to bigger grids progressively--20 yards apart.
If you're a GK Coach that trains GKs in a Club environment, you have the opportunity to do some 5v2 keep-away, or "rondos". This type of early training gets everyone involved and at the same time, forces the young GKs to become more comfortable and accurate with the ball at their feet, AND make proper passing decisions. (It'll be a 'train wreck' at first, but keep at it, Coach! They will get better!)
Finally, it is a well-known fact that young GKs can dramatically increase their foot skills (and outfield players as well!) with something as simple as a ball and a wall. Find a kick board, or a wall and practice knocking the ball against the wall and receiving it. Use 3 touches to start, develop to 2-touch, and when ready, go to 1-touch passing. 20-30 minutes a day "with the wall' will DRASTICALLY improve your foot skills.....AND make you much more comfortable on the ball, which will make you FAR more proficient with your team that 'Plays out of the Back'.
Remember, there are no secrets. Repetition, repetition, and more repetition is the key to improvement in all facets of GKing....as well as Life !!
May the ground beneath your dive be soft. May your goalposts be 3 feet wide. May the other team hit everything right at you.
All the Best--EV