How to Protect Youth Goalkeepers from Injury
One of the greatest joys as a parent is watching your child on game day. One of your worst fears as a parent on game day is watching your child get hurt. And if your child is the goalkeeper in soccer, that fear is likely magnified. After all, goalkeepers are constantly putting their bodies on the line to make save after save. It's true, goalkeepers are more susceptible to injuries than other players on the field. However, there are a few things you can do, as a parent, to help reduce the risk of serious injuries. In this post, we'll share how to protect youth goalkeepers from injury.
Proper Hand Positioning for Goalkeepers
One of the most common injuries for goalkeepers is jammed fingers, knuckles, and wrists. These injuries often happen for a simple reason, incorrect hand positioning. We're referring to how the hands are positioned when the ball comes into contact with them. To reduce the likelihood of this happening, it's essential to teach your child proper ball handling. There are plenty of videos on this subject. But to help you now, we'll give you a single basic tip. As the ball approaches, hands should be shaped to match the curvature of the ball. You can also think of this as slightly cupped. Hands should never be flat. Nor should fingertips be pointing down at the ground. This will help create a softer surface for the ball to hit, which will, in turn, reduce the chances of a finger getting jammed.
Goalkeeper Tape for Wrists, Fingers, and Knuckles
Another way to protect goalkeepers' fingers and wrists is by taping them before games and practices. By the way, goalkeeper tape, also known as goalkeeper wrist and finger tape, comes in multiple colors. This can make taping up much more fun. Kind of like cartoon band-aids vs. boring tan band-aids. When goalkeepers tape their wrists and fingers, it will help stabilize the joints and provide additional support in case of impact. Be sure to use goalkeeper finger tape that won't irritate the skin. You don't want your child's game or practice cut short because of discomfort.
One last thing. You may have heard about youth goalie gloves that come with built in protection. This protection is called, fingersaves. You can learn more about goalkeeper fingersaves here. We also share our thoughts on fingersaves and whether your child needs them, or not.
Strength Training for Goalkeepers
In addition to proper hand positioning and using goalkeeper tape, strength training can also help reduce the risk of injury for youth goalkeepers. One way to do this is by using a medicine ball. Start with a lighter weight ball. You don't have to throw the ball hard. All you have to do is toss the ball in their general direction. During the session, be sure to encourage proper hand positioning. There are other exercises as well. You can also use equipment for fist clenches, finger curls, and wrist curls. No equipment available? Use a simple tennis ball or stress ball and simply squeeze. Be sure to squeeze using the fingertips.
Pregame Warmup for Goalkeepers
Just like field players, goalkeepers need to warm up before a game. But a goalkeeper's warmup needs to be separate from that of field players. They need to prepare their body and their mind differently.
A goalkeeper's warmup should consist of exercises that simulate game-like situations. For example, they might practice saving shots from different angles and distances. They might also do some light footwork drills to improve their agility.
In addition to physical preparation, goalkeepers also need to focus mentally before a game. They need to visualize themselves making saves and staying calm under pressure. By doing a specific warmup routine, goalkeepers can put themselves in the right frame of mind to have a successful game.
Watching your child on game day is fun. You can make it even more fun, and less stressful, by following our tips. At the same time, these tips can help keep a youth goalkeeper safe from injury. For more information on how to reduce the risk of injury, please visit our website advantagegk.com.