7 Essential Skills Required to Be a Great Goalkeeper
There's no doubt that goalkeepers have the toughest job in soccer. A good goalkeeper and a bad goalkeeper can be the difference between a team winning a championship and finishing well below the competition.
The goalkeeper has a simple task: Stop the other team from scoring goals. Of course, that's much easier said than done.
Being a great goalkeeper is all the proper mental and physical preparation. While that is the case for most positions on the pitch, it is tremendously important when it comes to goalkeeping. Players must be able to handle the rigors and pressure that come with playing in the goal, in addition to helping lead the team from afar.
Let's take a look at eight essential skills that are required to be an elite goalkeeper:
Don't let anyone tell you any differently. The best goalkeepers in the world are great leaders. They understand that their teammates rely on them in many pressure-packed situations. Everyone wants to play with a goalkeeper that shows a great amount of leadership regardless of the situation. Given the pressure that comes with playing the goalkeeper position, being able to have the mental and physical skills required to lead your team in the toughest of circumstances will go a long way towards being a great leader and teammate.
It takes great communication skills to be an effective leader on the pitch, so this one goes hand-in-hand with No. 1 on our list. Being a great communicator is an essential requirement in pretty much any field, and it's no different in soccer. In order for your teammates to trust and view you as a team leader, you have to be able to communicate with them in the right way. Anyone can yell and scream at teammates when they make a mistake or cost the team with a crucial error, but the best leaders and communicators do it differently. Instead of yelling just to yell, they do so in a helpful and motiviating way in order to establish trust with their teammates.
3. Quick Reflexes
If you're going to be a great goalkeeper, you have to have a quick response time. Shots can come from anywhere on the pitch at a moment's notice, so goalkeepers must be prepared to move in multiple directions at the blink of an eye.
4. Sure Hands
Most people aren't born with "goalkeeper hands." You may have the largest hands in the world, but if you haven't trained your hands for the rigors of goalkeeping, you won't become elite. Only through repititions with proper form can an average goalkeeper becomes a great goalkeeper.
Always remember that goalkeepers are the last line of defense and the first line of attack. After making a save, the goalkeeper is in charge of starting the counter-attack. Choosing the best area to distribute the ball to start the counter-attack is a crucial part of being a goalkeeper.
6. Mental Toughness
No other position on the pitch faces the type of pressure that the goalkeeper does. That means that having the mental toughness to handle any situation is an absolute must when it comes to playing the position. You have to be able to bounce back when giving up a goal or else it will negatively affect your play and put your team at a major disadvantage.
7. Complete Awareness
Goalkeepers can't be zoning out and thinking about a play that happened in the previous match, half, or minute. Great goalkeepers understand that being in the moment at all times is the only way to be successful at the position. Forget about the last play. The only thing that matters is the current play.
American soccer fans will never forget Landon Donovan's miraculous World Cup goal against Algeria, but what some fail to remember is that it could have never happened without great goalkeeping from Tim Howard.
After making an easy save, Howard fully understood the situation at hand: The US needed to score in order to advance through to the knockout stage, however, had little time to do so.
Howard's perfect awareness and fantastic distribution skills allowed him to put the ball exactly where the US needed it to start the counter-attack. What happened next is undoubtedly the most memorable goal in US National Team history.
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