5 Skills That Goalkeepers Can Learn from Manuel Neuer
Manuel Neuer is widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in world football.
The German shot stopper has won nearly every major honor there is to win, and every aspiring young goalkeeper can learn a lot by watching Neuer play the game at the very highest level.
Here are five skills that make him the best of best, skills that young players should look to identify and incorporate into their own game.
1. Ability with His Feet
Manuel Neuer is renowned for his ability to play with his feet and keep the ball on the deck. The German goalkeeper has dedicated countless hours of focused practice on improving his technical ability so that he can be an outlet for his center backs and other field players.
It's important that as a goalie you immerse yourself in the same possession and small-sided-games as other field players. Being comfortable with the ball at your feet will make you a unique talent between the sticks, and have you well on your way to becoming the next great sweeper keeper.
2. Incredible Reflexes
Neuer has trained and worked tirelessly for decades to develop unparalleled hand-to-eye coordination. His ability to make reaction and reflex saves under intense pressure, domestically and on the world stage, make him the one of the best goalkeepers to ever play the game.
It's incredibly important for developing keepers to work on their reaction save techniques, and a great way to do this is to introduce multiple balls into rapid fire situations.
Gather a few teammates, friends, your coaches, parents, whomever you can find, and work on making multiple saves in quick succesion. Have your helpers hit shots at different angles, one after the other, forcing quick reactions, and helping to improve overall fitness.
3. Brilliant Shot-Stopping Ability
Strong hands and a unique ability to read angles make Manuel Neuer one of the best shot-stoppers in the game. Rarely do you ever see Neuer parrying shots into dangerous areas, or coming off his line flapping at crosses, he is sure footed and sure handed.
Aspiring keepers should work on strength training for the wrists and hands, understand how and when to come of their line to reduce angles, and practice clearing completely from danger-areas where second balls can be threatening.
4. Pinpoint Distribution
Bayern Munich's goalkeeper is known for being one of the best at starting quick break counter-attacks by launching punts and dropkicks 60 yards or more. He is also one of the best in the game at distributing with perfectly well-weighted throws to feet or to space.
It's critical for all goalkeeper's to be able to cleanly distribute over long-distances, and mid to short ranges, by understanding the proper weight and speed to play the ball so as to lead their teammates into positive areas for keeping possession or going to goal.
5. Commitment to Success
Neuer spends countless hours studying every detail of his opponents, whether it's memorizing which way they like to go when taking penalty kicks, which side they most often dribble to in 1v1 situations, or identifying a favored foot.
As a youth player you won't have the opportunity to review video of opponents, but what you can do is study how Neuer responds and reacts to each of the situations mentioned above.
You can definitely learn from how he makes himself big, explodes off his line, or refuses to go down early in breakaway scenarios.