- Our Approach
The purpose of this approach is to help develop “best practice” Goalkeeper training within SMALL GROUPS at Tecnico Coaching.
This approach will serve as a bridge to develop coaching consistency within age groups and a developmental progression across age groups through quality training, repetition, and effective coaching as the goalkeeper needs these variables in a controlled environment to master their technical skills.
The Goalkeeper must master the technical skills required for the position through quality training, repetition, and effective coaching. Like outfield players, the goalkeeper needs these variables in a controlled environment (goalkeeper training) to master their technical skills.
Technical areas of concentration are:
- Set Position
FOOTWORK– The goalkeeper’s ability to cover the goal area(lateral and off their line) is vital to saving the ball. Footwork gives the goalkeeper the ability to get in line with the shot, get set for the shot, deal with a crossed ball, cut off the angle of the shot, etc. This should enable the goalkeeper to make saves easier and retain the ball at a higher consistency.
Hand Positioning- It is imperative that young goalkeepers are taught the correct hand positioning for both low and high balls. In both cases, the hands should form a supple web that surrounds the back (closest to the goal) of the ball. Players are taught for low balls the hand position resembles an ‘M’, with fingers pointed down and palms facing forward. The little fingers of both hands are almost touching. For high balls the hand position resembles a ‘W’, with fingertips pointed up and palms facing forward. The thumbs of both hands are almost touching.
SET POSITION- The relationship between the goalkeeper’s body parts (feet, legs, arms, hands, shoulders, and head) is fundamental to a successful catch. The moment the ball is struck by the attacking player, the goalkeeper needs to be stationary, well balanced, and have proper body shape. This is referred to as the “set position”. Your feet, knees, hips and shoulders should be in alignment. Too far apart of the feet or too narrow of the feet will affect the goalkeeper’s balance and ability to save the ball. The body should be in a slightly curved or concave shape with the shoulders facing the ball. The arms and hands work together, bent and relaxed to absorb the shot. Accomplishing the proper set position allows the goalkeeper to catch the ball. To add to this the player is taught to shift their weight from foot to foot at speed in order to increase reaction time and jumping ability. (basic concepts will be taught before placing a child in the position of goalkeeper.)
CATCHING- When catching the ball, the goalkeeper needs to incorporate proper footwork and get in the “set position” prior to catching. They must also have good concentration and hand-eye coordination while dealing with the ball.
The four (4) types of balls the goalkeeper can face are:
- Ground Balls / ‘Scoop”
- Mid-section / “Cup”
- Head Height / ‘W”
- Above the Head
Ground balls- are caught by using the “Scoop” technique. The goalkeeper will collapse at the knees (knees DO NOT touch the ground but get low enough to prevent the ball from going under your legs) and attack the ball with hands and arms which will bring the body forward. The palms are open and facing the ball with the fingers facing down towards the ground. Once the ball makes contact with the palms and arms, the goalkeeper will scoop the ball into his chest.
Mid-section balls- (knees to waist) are caught using the‘Cup” technique. The goalkeeper will use the similar technique as the ground balls, but does not require the legs to collapse low to the ground as the ball is off the ground. Proper footwork is still necessary to get the body in front of the ball.
Head Height balls- are caught by using the “W’ technique. The shape of the hands is commonly referred as a “W” as the fingers and palms look like the letter “W”. The hands need to be approximately the width of the ball apart with elbows slightly bent to absorb the pace of the ball.
Above the head, balls require the fingers to be angled slightly down towards the ground in front of the goalkeeper to rebound the ball down in front of the goalkeeper in case of a catching error. The previous types of balls can be secured by getting the body behind the ball in case of an error, but not so when the ball is above your head. Lastly, once the ball has been caught, the ball should be brought into the goalkeeper’s chest and securely held to prevent balls being dropped or put back into play.
DIVING– The first dives to be taught in practice from a seated or kneeling position. The coach or partner kneeling 3-4 yards away will roll a ball (slowly) to an agreed side about one yard from the goalkeeper’s upright body. The keeper’s arm is to produce a ‘long barrier’ between the ball and the imaginary goal behind them. Again we want to encourage our keepers’ to attack (move forward towards) the ball, so they will dive to their side but slightly towards the ball.
When the ball is to the side of the goalkeeper’s body and he is not able to incorporate any of the four (4) types of catching techniques, a dive is necessary to make the save.
The four (4) types of dives are:
- Collapse Dive
- Low Dive
- High Dive
- 1v1 Dive
The collapse dive- is used when the goalkeeper cannot get their entire body behind the ball, but is never in the air. The ball is at the goalkeeper’s side and close to their legs. The legs simply collapse to the side and the hands are positioned behind the ball to make the catch/save.
The low dive- is used when the ball is away from the body and the goalkeeper must use footwork to attack the ball. The goalkeeper must use proper footwork, leg push, and attack the ball at roughly a 45 degree angle. Upon catching the ball, the body weight of the goalkeeper is absorbed into the ground at the side of the body and shoulders.
The high dive- uses the same technique as the low dive but the ball is at or above the goalkeeper’s chest. The 1v1 dive is used when the goalkeeper encounters an attacking player who is dribbling free on goal at them. The goalkeeper must decide when and how far to come out and encounter the player. The goalkeeper needs to cut down the angle of the shot to make the goal as small as possible, delay the attacker from shooting and ultimately save or deflect the shot. The goalkeeper needs to dive at the attacker’s feet with their chest facing the ball and making their body into the biggest “barrier” as possible to block the ball. Timing, technique and bravery are keys to making the 1v1 save.
CROSSES – Crossed balls are delivered from different angles on the field into the penalty area. The goalkeeper must make a split second decision and come off of their line to “intercept” the ball by taking the quickest route to the ball. Proper and quick footwork (drop step, crossover step, and stutter step) enables the goalkeeper to produce the fastest route. The goalkeeper should jump off their inside leg (leg closest to the goal) for protection and reach the ball at the highest point possible. The technique used for balls above the head will come into play when catching a crossed ball. Decision making on whether to catch or punch the ball is dictated based on securing the ball, crowded area, too far to catch with 2 hands, etc. The goalkeeper’s aerial control of their penalty area is very important.
DISTRIBUTION– The goalkeeper is the first line of attack once in possession of the ball. An accurate throw or kick can penetrate the opposing team and initiate their team’s attack. Throwing of the ball is generally used for quick and accurate passing to their teammates.
Three (3) Different Techniques are:
- Roll – used for short distances and the ball is rolled along the ground to feet using an underhand motion
- Sidearm – used for medium distances and the ball is thrown in the air in front of a teammate to progress forward up the field.
- Overhand – used for longer distances to bypass players (over their heads) and get the ball into the opponent’s half and safely to a teammate
Kicking of the ball is generally used to distribute the ball over a greater distance than throwing, but accuracy of the kick needs to be heavily emphasized.
Five (5) Different Techniques are:
- Dead ball / Goal Kick / Free kick – Ball is stationary on the ground and no opposing player may contest the ball. The goalkeeper has ample time to place the ball and prepare for a proper kick.
- Punt – Ball is released from the goalkeeper’s hands and struck before it hits the ground.
- Half Volley – Ball is released from the hands and struck as it hits the ground. The flight of the ball is lower than a punt and is beneficial when the wind is quite strong.
- ‘Sidewinder” – Flight of the ball is more horizontal than a punt or half volley and is easier to control by your teammate.
- Back Pass - Due to the rules of the game, when a ball is kicked to the goalkeeper from his own team, the goalkeeper may not use his hands. The goalkeeper needs to be comfortable and proficient in using both feet. This enables them to be an added outfield player and keep possession of the ball.
Two main areas that encompass “tactics” in regards to goalkeeping are:
- Decision Making
- Command of the Penalty Area
Decision Making – Decisions need to be made in a split second without hesitation. Making a wrong decision more often than not results in goals being scored as the goalkeeper is the last line of defence.
Distance off their line – The goalkeeper needs to have a good relationship and balance between the back line and their self in order to intercept balls, either with their feet or hands, when balls are played in behind their defence. The starting position of the goalkeeper is determined by the location of the ball on the field and who is in possession of the ball (your team or the other team).
Text Box: Angle Play – The goalkeeper needs to position their self between the ball and the middle of the goal. This will allow the goalkeeper to cover as much of the goal on either side (left or right) of their self. Next, the goalkeeper needs to position their self off the goal line in order to cover both sides within a few steps and using a dive if necessary. The further away from the goal line will cut the angle down and make the goal look smaller, but allows for shots over the goalkeeper’s head. Too close to the goal line enables the goalkeeper to cover more space above their head, but will leave too much of the goal open for shots. There needs to be a balance of how far out to go without compromising shots over the goalkeeper’s head. This is determined by the goalkeeper’s size, capability, and experience.
Reading the flight of the ball – Once positioned correctly, the goalkeeper needs to determine the flight or trajectory of the ball. Questions the goalkeeper must ask and decipher in a split second.
Is the ball too far away to reach? Is the ball travelling too slowly to reach? Can I reach the crossed ball before the attacker does? Is the ball going to bounce over a player’s head? Shot Stopping – As the ball is shot on goal, the goalkeeper must make a decision on which technique to use to save the ball (i.e. “Scoop”, “Cup”, collapse dive, etc). The next decision needs to be catch or punch/deflect. Is the ball travelling too fast to catch it safely? Is it only possible to get 1 hand on the ball thus punching/deflecting it? Can the ball be caught safely with no rebounds? Securing the ball either with a catch or by putting the ball in an area on the field that will cause the least amount of danger are decisions that need to be made instantaneously.
Communication & Support- Undoubtedly the goalkeeper has the best view of the field of play, particularly in his own half. The keeper therefore must be encouraged to communicate with their defenders and midfield players. We have already seen how a defender can make a call of ‘time’ to their keeper, and in this way the relationship is dynamic and players should be communicating with each other constantly. This communication should always be positive. Constructive analysis must only come from the coach.
As with all game situations, a player who wants to control the ball should call for it, and this is no different for young goalkeepers. They will be encouraged to call ‘keeper’s ball’ for any ball that they feel they can control (both in practice and matches). This is a real safety issue as a player that does not call for a ball he is going towards risks getting run into by another player.
Having every player in practice, call for every ball that they want to control, as well as every ball they want to receive from a teammate, gets them learning good habits from an early age. The goalkeeper will learn this too, and also to give instructions for the defence to go wide, come in, or to a specific player to hold position or drop back to cover. This develops trust and will eventually be used to take advantage of the opposing team’s weaknesses and break down an attack.
The following are some key points for several important tactics a goalkeeper must know:
Handling Corners-Key points for handling corner kicks: Anything within the 6-yard box in the air should belong to the keeper! Older players should be able to extend their range even beyond this. We train keepers in traffic so they will have the confidence to collect corners and crosses in their goal box. Always position a defender on the near post, shoulder right up against it and facing the corner. This player is there to clear away hard driven shots to the near post that the keeper can’t get to. For balls hit over the head past the far post, track the ball, leave it late and either punch it wide or be ready for a shot or deflection from the far side. Some goalkeepers or coaches like to station a player at the far post to handle these, similar in duties to the near-post defender. It is preferable to have this defender marking rather than standing at the far post.
Setting a Wall- If the opponent is given a free kick within 10-20 yards of the penalty area (or an indirect kick inside the penalty area), the standard defence is to make a “wall” of two or more players the minimum 10 yards from the spot of the kick. This wall serves to block part of the goal from the shooter so the goalkeeper only has to worry about guarding a small portion of the goalmouth. However, if the wall is not properly positioned, it may actually do more harm than good!
The wall must be set up quickly, following these basic guidelines:
One defender must identify themselves as the outside “anchor” of the wall. Make sure everyone knows who this is; they should raise their hand and make eye contact with the keeper. Some teams may wish to identify this player ahead of time, even in practice sessions.
The player will learn they must choose how many players will be in the wall. The more extreme the angle, the fewer players. Two players are sufficient for a ball close to the end line; the keeper might want as many as five or even six in the wall for a straight shot. The exact number will depend on the situation and how much goal the keeper feels confident covering.
The goalkeeper sets the “anchor” just outside a line between the football and the near post. This covers the near part of the goal with a little overlap to prevent balls from bending around the wall. The keeper will usually dash over to the near post to sight from the post to the ball to make sure things are positioned properly. While doing this the keeper is way out of position, so speed is essential! Some teams prefer to free the keeper of this duty by using a forward, who lines up the wall by sighting from behind the ball back towards the goalpost.
The other players line up against the “anchor” player to the inside of the goal. Players need to be right against one another so no ball can slip through the wall. Once the wall is set, the goalkeeper moves to cover the space between the inside of the wall and the far post.
Handling Back Passes- The goalkeeper will learn to sometimes make themselves available as an outlet for a defender under pressure. However, if done incorrectly, a backpass to the goalkeeper can result in tragedy – an uncontested giveaway in front of the net or even an own goal.
Here are key points for back passes to the keeper;
- The goalkeeper must ask for the ball.
- The keeper who is making themselves available must move away from the goal and outside the near post.
The passer must pass with good pace and outside the near post. Many defenders who passed inside the post and miss connecting with their keeper, score “own goals”.
Once the ball is received, the keeper must clear it quickly, preferably with one or two touches. Switching fields is often a good option to get the ball away from pressure. This is a skill that must be practiced!
Command of Penalty Area - The goalkeeper is the “leader” and “eyes” of the team as the entire field (your team, opposing team, and ball) are all in front of the goalkeeper. They can evaluate and “control” situations with proper communication that will eliminate many potential dangerous situations.
Two (2) key factors of communication are:
- Tone/Voice – Strong, loud, concise and decisive instructions given to teammates.
- Types of Commands – Examples include: “away”, “keeper”, “push-up”, and “close the ball”.
Situations that arise, such as, crosses, setup for restarts, tracking of runners, etc will make it necessary for the goalkeeper to use the correct command their teammates are familiar with and understand the purpose of the command. Enhancing your decision making and command of the penalty area can be achieved through small sided games (5v5), larger scale games (8v8), and full size games (11v11).
Game Management – Many situations come about throughout a game and season that will dictate what is necessary for the goalkeeper to do when they are in possession of the ball. Is your team behind and needs the goalkeeper to speed up goal kicks or play quickly out of the back? Is your team ahead with 5 minutes to play and playing out of the back would be too dangerous? Is your team playing away from home and needs a draw to advance to the next round of a competition? These are a sampling of questions and situations that need to be evaluated by the goalkeeper to facilitate the flow of a game.
The goalkeeper clearly is a different type of athlete compared to the outfield players as they run far less distances and covers a much shorter area of the field compared to the outfield players. The goalkeeper must possess quick reflexes, be very agile and rely on explosive movements to do their job effectively. In addition to these attributes, they must train their body to endure the “beating” from shot stopping, diving, collisions, and crosses. Lastly, the height of the goalkeeper is a factor due to the dimensions of the goal.
When evaluating youth goalkeepers, you must consider the “growth potential” of a player and think about the following:
- Current attributes - height, weight, coordination, athleticism, etc.
- Parent’s attributes – Are the parents tall, good size, athletic, short, etc?
- Birth date – What month is the goalkeeper born? Is the goalkeeper one of the youngest on the team for his age group? Does he need more time to mature?
- Teenage years – Are they still growing into their body? Is their coordination poor due to “growing pains”? Smaller but technical goalkeepers need to be evaluated based on the above information. Taller/bigger but not as technical, goalkeepers need to continue to concentrate on techniques. This approach will ensure both types of goalkeepers are progressing at the appropriate time frame for when they reach their maximum physical attributes.
Beyond the evaluation of the “growth potential”, the goalkeeper must possess the following:
The goalkeeper position is a very isolated and lonely spot on the field. The majority of the game is spent by them observing what is going on and not being involved very much with the run of play. The time the goalkeeper is involved usually is the difference between a goal being scored or not. If mistakes are made by the goalkeeper, they are magnified, as their errors usually result in goals. The goalkeeper needs to deal with these stressful situations with composure and confidence.
Characteristics of a successful goalkeeper consist of:
- Motivation – Desire to play the position
- Confidence – Self-belief and faith in your ability to excel
- Leadership – Manage and guide the team
- Concentration – Eliminate distractions and focus on task. Staying focused during long periods of no physical action
- Positive Outlook – Forget mistakes, recover quickly, and move on within the game and the next games
- Courage/Bravery – Disregard for bodily harm to save ball (dive at feet, collisions, etc)
- Competitive – Striving each day to win every activity (training exercise, small sided game, 11v11 game, league game, tournament, etc)
Goalkeepers Learn by;
- Regular, specific, structured training
- Playing with and against better players
- Playing small sided and full-size games
- Listening and acting upon constructive feedback from coaches
- Watching games on television or in person
- Watching other goalkeepers train
- Asking questions
- Challenging themselves – technically, tactically, physically, psychologically
- Emulate top level goalkeepers
- Learn from mistakes