1. Get the right protection equipment
Even if your child wants to wear the same equipment as the keepers they see on TV – short sleeved jersey, shorts and little protection – they'll still need to protect themselves.
Explain to them that professional keepers play with around 4 to 5 different balls per match on a perfect pitch surface, but when they do specific exercises in training, they wear protective keeper's tracksuit bottoms, as well as elbow and knee pads, to keep them injury-free for the weekend match.
2. Gloves: the goalkeeper's work tools
Gloves are an essential tool for an 11-a-side keeper playing on a grass pitch.
At junior level, gloves are used first and foremost to protect the hands. We recommend goalkeepers wear roll finger gloves from a young age. Roll finger gloves help prevent the risk of finger bruising later on in adult life. The aim of the glove is to anticipate and protect against potential injury from contact with the ground, the ball or another player’s feet.
As the child grows older, the gloves become more of a tool to help the ball stick to the hands better when catching.
We suggest your child always owns two pairs of gloves: one for matches and an older pair for training. Both sets of gloves should be the same make so your child has a consistent feel for the ball.
3. A key position
The goalkeeper is a unique position that will give your child a sense of responsibility. It can also be a frustrating one when some matches go by with them rarely touching the ball.
As a parent, you can help them gain some perspective, because they'll be judged on each of their decisions and every time they touch the ball. Unlike their teammates, they have no room for error and won't be able to hide if they're having an off game.
Keepers always replay their matches in their heads afterwards but your child shouldn't doubt themselves too much.
Help them take a step back and explain that since they have a full view of the pitch, the keeper's role is also to observe and guide the other players.