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The Perfection Game

by  Don Williams

Always use the 6 yard box for training crosses. The keepers need this for a reference point. When I have 2 or more keepers, one of my favorite games to play I call “perfection”. The game is simple, but forces the keepers to focus very hard on all the coaching points for handling crosses.

In “perfection” each keeper rotates going in goal and the other keeper(s) take turns as the attackers. The coach plays in crosses from varying angles from the flanks. In order for a keeper to score a point they must make 3 consecutive “perfect” saves in a row. As soon as any save is not “perfect” the next keeper comes in and begins their turn. The game can be played to any number of predetermined points. i.e. first to 5 points wins.

In “perfection” a “perfect” save is defined as one that is held AND adheres to all the elements outlined in the coaching points which are:

  • Proper stance.
  • Calling “keeper” very early.
  • Long last step. Upon takeoff the keeper will need to use their last step as leverage by making it a very long last step.
  • Protection knee. The knee that is closest to the field will need to come up for protection from on rushing attackers.
  • Deciding early, but coming late. First step is back.
  • Catching the ball properly. Arms must bent slightly at the elbow and the catch should be made in front of the face.

One point we haven’t made yet is … What does the keeper do when a cross comes in that there is no way that they can reach it?

The keeper must call “Away” and if possible put a name to it. for example if Joan is the closest player to the ball the keeper would yell “away Joan”! This eliminates the confusion for the field player in determining who is going to clear the ball away from danger.

In perfection the proper judgment and call of an “away” ball doesn’t count for the keeper, but making the wrong decision should be counted against them, resulting in a loss of turn.

Option 1: As players get good at dealing with crosses you can increase the number of attackers. We’ve played this with as many as 10 attackers at once with out top level keepers. It gets crazy, but it’s a lot of FUN.

Option 2: If you’re only training one keeper, you can set out 10, 20 or more flags in and around the 6 yard box to distract the keeper. It is amazing how difficult this really is. Keepers tend to take their eye off the ball and mess up when they approach the flags. The coach can make a game with the keeper, such as if the keeper can deal with 5 “perfect” crosses the coach owes the keeper 5 pushups, if not, the keeper owes the coach 5 pushups.

Good Luck in training,

Don Williams

Don Williams is a veteran college coach whose coaching career spans 30 years. He coached at virtually every level in the United States, including a pro stint in the USL, the NCAA, NAIA, and at the Junior College level. Most recently, he coached the men and women at Feather River Junior College in California, where he was able to transfer 92 players for $4,375,000 in scholarships having his players recruited by many distinguished schools such as Penn State, UMass, Florida State, UCLA, Lipscomb, New Mexico State, North Carolina, University of Washington and many more. Before coaching at Feather River, Don spent 12 years coaching at California State University at East Bay. Don has also been the men’s head coach at Ohlone College and the goalkeeper coach for the Bay Area Seals of the USL. There he coached such notables as Jon Conway, who went on to play for the NY Red Bulls, Chicago Fire, and Toronto FC of the MLS. Don also served as the inaugural Director of Coaching for the Northern Nevada State Olympic Development program, where he helped 67 players get invited to the US Regional Event. Don is Head of Operations with Sports Recruiting USA for The Americas, the most successful and connected college placement agency in the world. He has earned his "A" License from the United States Soccer Federation.