Start out slow, and use mats if you must. Practice diving from your knees and/or diving a very short distance. Eventually, remove the mats, and keep progressing as such. Alternatively, you could invest in a nice, padded keeper shirt or something.
Really, unless there's a sh**load of sharp rocks there (which you could even move first
) nothing will hurt you that much. You can't possibly get enough air to injure yourself.
However, proper falling is a must. As a Judoka, I've done thousands of breakfalls in my day. Here are some key pointers on falling after a dive:
- Don't land on your damn elbows.
If you want some serious bruising, discomfort and possibly screwing up of the joint, then go right ahead. Really though, it's the frailest part of your arm, and you need to protect it.
- Exhale as you hit the dirt.
A powerful exhale will force all of your muscles to work together and will in fact hurt you less then if you go down holding your breath. It's more natural.
- Fully commit to your dives.
A half-assed dive won't stop anything, and the more balls you lay on the line, the less balls that cross it.
Plus, you have less chance of injuring yourself if you go all out. You're kind of telling yourself mentally that you are totally going to do this, and it preps the body for impact.
- Scream if you want.
Or at least make some verbal noise. It can totally help you focus. Be careful not to direct this at the other player though, or it might be seen as unsportsmanlike.
- If you have to bail on a dive, protect your vital parts
That's the head, mostly, but also the kidneys and lungs if you're going to take a direct hit. If you missed the ball or it's going out of play or something, you should slap the ground with your hands. It really won't hurt at all if you have gloves on, and even without, not that much. It helps dissipate the force away from the parts that hurt and into the ground.
Also, as a final note, make sure you plant your feet before you dive. This will help you make a better dive by giving you a strong base to push off with. And definitely PUSH. Don't just flop; that's how goals are scored and keepers are made to look like fools.
Fantastic to have another keeper on the forum, btw. Not that I am one myself. :p But they are in short supply around these parts, and highly valued.
Ask all the questions you want, and we'd love it if you stuck around.