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Train Your Goalie with Mini Soccer Balls

Soccer balls do not come in just one size. Size 5 balls are used for players aged 13 years and up. This is also the size that is use in all Major League Soccer games. Size 4 balls are for players from age 8 to 12 years. Children under 8 years old use size 3 balls. These are the only sizes of balls that are used in competitive play, but there are also two other sizes of balls. There are size 2 and size 1 mini balls that usually have the circumferences of 20” and 18” inches respectively (compare this to the 27-28” circumference of a size 5 ball).

The players that usually get the most and best training from these “mini balls” are soccer goalkeepers. It is a lot harder to block a mini ball than a regular sized one – it requires much more precision. The primary goalkeeping skill that is gained from using the mini ball training is the adjustment of the catching unit, or the contour catch. To catch a mini ball, the goalkeeper must adjust his hand position to a smaller, more precise catching position. It is not just his hands that he must adjust – the goalkeeper’s upper body is important, too. Goalkeepers need to prepare their bodies so that their hands, head, and chest are in alignment with the ball.

Goalkeepers don’t just learn the contour catch while training with a mini ball. Goalkeepers also experience an increase in their physical and visual reaction speed. A smaller ball has a very rapid flight that requires a goalkeeper to have to prepare his feet much faster if he wants to protect his goal. The goalkeeper's visual speed will be improved, too – he has to watch the kicker kick the ball and then time when he will have to respond (well, he really ought to respond immediately...)

When training goalkeepers, you may incorporate the mini ball into a number of shot handling and/or deflecting exercises. A coach must be creative in her exercises, constantly changing the starting position or angle of the goalkeeper. When using the mini balls to train the goalkeeper’s deflecting techniques, it forces the goalkeeper to concentrate on striking the center of the mini ball, which has smaller surface area than a regulation ball. The mini ball training will expose a weakness in the goalkeeper’s saving technique if he cannot read the flight of the ball correctly or make solid contact when deflecting.

Mini balls are a great and interesting way to improve your goalkeeper’s game (hey, and while your goalie is still learning to block the ball, your other players can boosts their confidences while enjoying the fun of being able to make a shot more easily). The use of mini balls is just one of many innovative training methods which can maximize your goalkeeper’s mental capacity while expanding his physical limitations.

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