Last Line of Defense: 5 Tips on Developing Your Goalkeeper
Many coaches regard goalkeepers as the most important players in their team. No other position is under the microscope like a keeper, and it takes a certain strength of character to put on the gloves and get between the sticks.
Here are 5 tips on developing your goalkeeper.
1. Vocal Organizer
Your keeper must be a vocal, loud, director of the squad. Calling out marks, yelling orders to defenders to track back, stay compact and push out as necessary.
The goalkeeper on your team has one of the best vantage points on the field, and is able to see 21 players in front of them for much of the match, and it is absolutely critical that your goalkeeper uses this to their advantage.
Your goalkeeper should act as a chess master, helping guide each player to positions on the pitch that serve to improve the outcome of the match for your team.
2. Quick Off The Line
Goalkeepers must be quick off their line: both physically and mentally. They must read the game at a high level, understanding and deciding when to come claim a cross, move forward to reduce angles, and go to ground in 1v1 situations.
It's critical that you incorporate some plyometric training routines to increase the power muscle groups of your goalkeepers, allowing them to be ready to spring off their line like a goalkeeper jack-in-the-box.
3. Ability to Play With Their Feet
Modern goalkeepers must be technical soccer players, skilled with their feet, and comfortable in possession at a level that rivals field players.
A top goalkeeper will reassure their defense by being competent enough with their foot skills to receive pass backs from their defenders or midfield, and act as an outlet and pressure relief for their teams when they are under duress.
It is therefor critical that your goalkeeper train with the field players in many of their exercises, particularly drills like 5v2/Rondo.
4. Solid Distribution
Quality distribution is one of the hallmarks of a good goalkeeper. They must be able to deal throws that are easily received by their teammates, playing them into positive space and in positions that are not under pressure; they must be able to hit a 60 yard punt or half-volley to spring their team on a counter attack, and must by all means be able to take their own goal kicks barring injury.
Having your goalkeeper take their own goal kicks will increase your numerical options on the pitch, provided a more solid structure to the positional aspect of your squad, and will allow you to better retain possession.
5. Touch of The Crazies
Yes, it's true, many of the game's best goalies have just a little streak of the crazies coursing through their blood.
They are willing to dive head and hand first into a jungle of cleated, swinging boots, to claim a ball, they are willing and enthused to leap into a crowd of burley center backs attacking their goal and punch a corner clear, they have that unfaltering courage and vinegar molecule in their DNA that gives them the edge in penalties, restarts, and 1v1's.
The importance of the goalkeeper in your squad is often overlooked, but having a solid keeper at the position is one of the most important components of any championship winning team.
It's more important to keep a clean sheet than it is to score a goal. If you don't concede, you can't lose.
If you follow these five tips to help develop your goalkeeper there's no doubt that your last line of defense will be tough to beat.