Coach’s Corner; Goalkeepers: A Unique and Complex Position.
by Amy-Rose Dodds, FFG Academy Goalkeeper Coach.
Goalkeeping is a vital position that differs from others on the pitch, with that comes more responsibility. The role of a modern-day goalkeeper is not just to protect the goal from the opposing team, but to also help create attacks and support the defenders when in possession. Goalkeeping is a demanding position and requires a unique skill set. When working with our goalkeepers we cover techniques used in a variety of match scenarios, consisting of shot stopping (angled and central), distribution and dealing with pass back, reaction saves, 1vs1 scenarios and dealing with crosses. The topics mentioned above are taught and practiced within training to help unlock potential in preparation for matches.
In order for a goalkeeper to protect their goal they must have the following physical attributes to help. Agility is key within goalkeeping as it allows them to change direction, stop and start moving quickly under control, allowing them to get into position to make the saves more affectively. Goalkeepers need good coordination as within every catch, dive and save they must justify the flight of the ball, making decisions on techniques and timing the execution of their actions correctly. With good coordination comes a quick reaction time, making saves with different variables more saveable. These variables that can affect a shot consist of: deflections, speed of the ball, a blocked view, time or distance and type of shot.
An important aspect of goalkeeping is decision making. Within a game a goalkeeper has lots of decisions to make, this could be what type of technique to use, whether to catch or parry the ball, where to position themselves in the goal or whether to make it into a 1vs1 save. In order to make the correct decisions, within sessions we teach goalkeepers the different techniques to use and the correct scenarios to use them. Over time we develop this, so sessions become live so goalkeepers must anticipate the servers and read the triggers. This allows goalkeepers to gain repetition of techniques and decision-making scenarios, so when they return to a match situation, their choices are natural and fluid, hopefully making more saves.
Another attribute of a goalkeeper is leadership, as they have the ability to see the whole pitch and when not in possession of the ball can help their team by communicating, organising and informing team mates of what’s around them. This can be done by providing instructions of when they are coming to claim a ball, when to press, where to move, or when they have pressure to help prevent opposing attacks, but also to support build-up play. This allows them to maintain connected to the team but also help prevent mistakes or create on opportunities even if not directly involved.
Overall being a goalkeeper is a challenging yet rewarding position, which has more responsibilities than just protecting the goal. They must also be a leader within a team as well as an 11th outfield player; sweeping behind, supporting play and helping create attacks. All of attributes mentioned above requires a lot of time, patience, practice and hard work to master and execute within games. But if done, it can be the difference in winning or losing a game.