Accidents can happen in any area of soccer. From defense to the midfield to goalies, soccer brings with it, opportunities for accidents and injuries. One position that sees a lot of injuries is that of the goalie. Not only do the poor goalies bear the brunt of the game’s responsibility on their shoulders (or rather in their hands), they also have to protect themselves a lot more than your average player.
If you’re getting started as a goalie, have a child that will be playing the goalkeeper position, or want to get started coaching goalies, then read on. Injuries may seem frightening, but the good news is that there are ways to stay safe and minimize the possibilities of them happening. The following are some of the most common injuries that happen to goalkeepers, so you can better understand how to prevent them when playing or coaching.
- Acromioclavicular joint injury: Where your shoulder and collarbone meet is the acromioclavicular joint. What often happens to goalkeepers is that they fall and tear a ligament in the AC joint which can lead to a lot of pain if it’s a serious tear. Whether from being hit by another player or from diving and landing wrong, this type of injury is actually one of the most common ones in soccer.
- Clavicle fracture: This type of fracture is quite painful and will put you out of action for a while as you heal from the fall. A clavicle fracture is also known as a broken collarbone and usually happens after a harsh dive in an attempt to save the ball from entering the goal area. Another thing that often causes broken collarbones is when the goalkeeper crashes against the goal posts. Unfortunately, because of your job as a goalkeeper, you also have to contend with other players trying to get the ball in, with any means possible. A jump for a headshot could mean them landing on you and breaking your collarbone. Ouch!
- Elbow dislocation: Imagine diving for the ball as it starts flying towards the goal. You stop the ball from getting inside, but as you dived with your arms outstretched you paid more attention to the ball than the ground and bam, you’ve dislocated your elbow. Another time when it can happen is if a player with a powerful kick goes for a shot and you’re not ready for the impact. While not common, you can dislocate your elbow or shoulder due to the force applied to the kick and the impact on your body.
- Fractures and broken bones: A goalkeepers’ job is to keep that ball from getting inside the goal box, at any cost, right? Sometimes this very determination to keep the ball out will end up causing serious injury. Fractures and broken bones can happen from almost anything when playing soccer. The goalie happens to be at risk of breaking their wrists, fingers, and forearms, due to catching a powerful ball incorrectly or jumping and harshly falling on the ground.
- Glendoid Labral Tears: This type of tear is in your upper arm bone, where the glenoid labrum lies. Similar to cartilage in the knee, it’s no fun when this type of tear happens to your glendoid labrum. This usually happens when your arm is forced in a way that is unnatural and can happen when you land with your arms outstretched above you or when you get arm thrown back by the force of a ball.
How to Prevent Goalkeeper Injuries
Reading the above injuries, one would think that they should stay far away from playing soccer ever again, and especially the position of a goalkeeper. While it does bring its challenges, being a goalkeeper can be one of the most satisfying positions in the game.
If you’re all about the glory on the field, you may still want to pursue playing as goalie. So, don’t give up and follow the tips below to avoid and prevent injury as much as you can:
- Train well. As simple as it sounds, training to land right and catch the ball right can go far in helping you to avoid injury. Learn how to hold your body to brace against impact, how to jump with caution while being able to stop a fastball, and how to play cautiously with other players jumping next to you as well.
- Get familiar with your space. If you can train yourself to understand your position in relation to the goal posts and surrounding players, it’s easy to avoid hitting the goal posts or other players and get injured way less often. When you practice enough, it can become like second nature to avoid jumping when you’re close to the goal posts, etc.
- Use the right gear. If we could suggest one thing for you to do to stay safe while playing goalie, it would be to use the right equipment, always. You want to make sure to protect your wrists and hands with the proper gloves for goalies. Elbow pads can work against elbow dislocations while shin pads will keep your legs safe from kicks that are way off-the-ball, please, not your shins. You’ll also want to make sure to keep your knees protected with pads so that you don’t end up with broken cartilage from landing on your knee during a stressful time in the game.
- Stay strong. Keep up with your strength training and keeping your core strong. A strong core helps to provide you with great balance and keeps you stabilized. As a player who will be jumping a lot and having to push yourself, a strong core is going to help you a lot.
Are you ready to get started as a goalkeeper? Sure, it may come with risks, but you can bet that it’s one of the most fun positions in soccer. As you start preparing, keep the above-mentioned tips in mind, so you can avoid injury and stay safe during your games.