Playing minus degrees matches

It was a beautiful day last Sunday morning but boy was it cold. Not a cloud in the sky – and not another match to be seen – our pitch was heavy but not unplayable so we decided to go ahead and let the U18s play.

U17s match day

The wind chill factor made it feel like it was minus 9°C but I’m sure it wasn’t. I had so many layers of clothing on but still the wind managed to cut through even the thickest of them. The boys on the pitch were my biggest concern though and we all had to make sure they were on and off the pitch if they looked like they were turning blue!

Fortunately they have sensible mums who pack them up with tracksuits and snacks to keep them warm when they are subbed off. The game was played mostly in the middle of the park with the strong wind having a big effect on who was in control of the match. 1-1 at half time we managed a 2-1 victory which kept the cold at bay long enough to get back to the car.

And cold hands are a nightmare for goalkeepers in games where they have little to do.

A goalkeeper routine

The most important thing is to try and get them to remain focused for the whole game, so work out a little routine that he can do when the ball is at the other end of the pitch – something like jogging to the edge of the penalty box and then backwards to the goal line, but make sure he is keeping a close eye on where the ball is. Any routine is a good way to help focus and concentration on cold or wet days.

The problem as usual in this type of weather is can I actually open the doors and start the engine so we can warm up! My son was cold as well with both of us keen to get home and thaw out.

One thing’s for sure, it isn’t great weather for goalkeepers. Changing weather conditions can cause problems. How will the ball bounce? Will it skid through or stop? What kit to wear? Rain is bad enough but I always feel sorry for my keeper when it’s really cold.

Change of clothing

The ball is more slippery, and cold arms and legs make catching and kicking much more difficult. Because a young keeper is standing around for long spells it is much harder to keep warm – just last month, right at the start of the match my U12s goalkeeper dived full length and ended up soaking wet.

The temperature was very cold and we had to get him a change of clothing pretty sharpish. The opposition manager wasn’t happy that we asked for the game to be stopped, but it was face him or let my keeper freeze to death. His mum was worried but we had a change of kit and she had a clean base layer for him and he was soon back out there.

So those of you who play in warm climates can spare a thought for us coaches out there in temperatures that would be more suitable for arctic foxes!

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