Today is a rainy, cold day in Tennessee where I live. There are lots of High School and College play-off games going on today and this weekend. So...it made me think. What hints can I give GKs who are playing in the rain? (Particularly, cold, dreary, rain).
1. Prepare for the weather. Make sure that you have dry uniforms/gear to change in to after warm-ups and maybe even during the half. During warm-ups, you will most likely hit the ground more than in the match. Once your GK apparel becomes wet (usually after the first warm-up dive), it will become increasingly cold (and heavy). I always have my GKs wear a separate "warm up" strip and then dry off and change into a "match' strip before game time. Also, make sure that you have the proper footwear (studs instead of molded boots) for wet weather. A little hint here: if possible, wear a very thin pair of merino wool socks under your uniform socks. Wool has the ability to warm the body--even when wet--that many modern uniform fabrics do not. If your feet are warm, your body will stay warmer. Also, have 2 to 3 pairs of match gloves and a towel to help keep the glove palms dry during match play. I always have my GKs take an extra pair out to the goal in inclement weather in case they might need to switch gloves. By the way, if it's real cold and raw, a wool 'beanie' hat will help keep your body warm as well.
2. Realize that there will be balls you cannot catch. Make your catch vs parry decision early in a shot event. Many a goal has been scored, and many a play-off run has come to an end, by a "spilled" shot that on a dry day would have been held, but on a wet day was coughed up for a "juicy" rebound. If you're going to catch, be sure to keep as much of your body behind your hands and the ball as possible. (You've heard all of this since you first began in goal, but it's always good to refresh your memory). If you choose to parry balls, be sure to try to strike the ball and push it away vs just deflecting it. This is not always possible, but if you can push the ball away, it usually gives you more time to get up or recover your readiness for a possible second shot. Also, if possible, push the shot over the end line. Better a corner, than leaving a "sitter" for the other team.
3. Let your defenders know that weather conditions will require them to be alert to rebounds and spilled balls that they may need to "clear away" for you. Again, serves and shots that you might normally hold on a dry day, turn into "adventures" on a wet day, and if your defenders are aware, they can help you mightily.
4. Serves and crosses will have to be approached a bit more cautiously than on a dry day. The ball is wet, the ground is "greasy", and crosses or serves that you might normally catch, may have to be punched or boxed away. Low driven serves will skip and slide and not slow as they come into you, so be aware of that as well. Again, make sure that your defenders know that you are expecting them to be alert and ready to clear any balls that might be mis-played or spilled by you.
The problem is, on late fall rainy, cold days, bad things can happen. And in play-offs, a bad thing can lead to the end of a season. Rainy, slick conditions can be the great "equalizer"; and so as a GK you must be vigilant, aware, decisive, and prepared. Good Luck !!
May the ground beneath your dive be soft. May your goalposts be 3 feet wide. May the opposition hit everything right at you.
All the Best--EV