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Being an Arsenal fan, the German smashing of Brazil last night didn't come as that much of a shock to me - I've seen it happen a few times this season.

I sat watching the game with a dear friend of mine last night who is also a) one of the best 5-a-side goalkeepers I have ever seen and b) a current client of mine working towards being an even better keeper.

Near the end of the game, as Schurrle scored his outrageous near-post screamer, we agreed that the Brazilian goalkeeper could have done nothing about that goal despite the ball being pretty close to him. In fact, Julio Cesar could have done very little to prevent any of the seven goals that went past him last night. He was left exposed by those ahead of him. Cesar is a top goalkeeper.

His German counterpart Neuer is even better. His physical stature and arm-span give him a natural advantage over many but his intelligence and athleticism are equally as imposing.

 

The friend who I watched with last night has a nickname: "The Crab". I don't know if his posture was adopted through his adaptation to 5-a-side but he stands hunched in the goal (with his arms outstretched low and to the side, you can maybe envisage the root of his nickname) and out of it.

Over the last few years, he has grown to note that this habit to stand in such a way is probably causing him pain and making him slower to some balls than he once was. Still excellent, just that tiny performance slippage that only the performer notices.

In four sessions, the last of which we did at the new sports injury rehab and sports performance clinic on Harley Street, "The Crab" is standing taller, reaching longer, feeling looser and more comfortable and perhaps most fascinatingly...

seeing the ball better.

No direct work has been done with his eyes but after a game the other night he noted that previously some shots were past him before he saw them (a common football expression) and this wasn't the case anymore.

Now he saw more of the flight of the ball and could modify his responses to it better.

I found this a remarkable level of awareness that most people couldn't put a finger on but I guess that's part of what's made him play as well as he has for the last 18 years I've known him.

 

Cesar may not have saw that Schurrle effort rip past him last night but you can bet that he and other top class goalkeepers will track the ball better than goalkeepers who play at lower levels.

This is part of the thinking behind the new glasses that some keepers wear in training that using a strobe kind of effect to splice out visual info from their visual stream, the idea being that a keeper who can respond using less visual info will learn to see better. We managed this tech-free without focusing (pardon the pun) on seeing.

Goalkeepers, however good they are at what they do, will always let goals in. One of the things that sets the better apart is their ability to track the ball across more of its trajectory, whether they save it or not. This is part and parcel of expansive goalkeeping.

 

Arton "Bringing The Crab out of his shell" Baleci