Key Considerations for Goalkeeping

There are four basic considerations for goalkeeping that help deterimine an individuals aptitude for the position.  The goalkeepers technical ability, his tactical understanding, his psychological ablity to deal with the demands of the position and his physical gifts.

Technical Consideration:

This is the difference between a shot stopper and a competent confident goalkeeper. There is a direct correlation between the extent and breadth of a goalkeeper’s technique and a goalkeeper’s confidence.  The key consideration in developing technique and the corresponding confidence is found in utilizing realistic match related activities and drills with a strong emphasis on performing the isolated technique with excellence over a limited number or repetitions.

Fielding ground balls, short hops, low shots and high shots while on your feet.
Leaving the feet to collect or punch high shots and crosses
Collapse dives
Winning the 1 v 1 breakaway confrontation
Distributions – Roll, overhand throw, baseball throw, drop kicks, punts and goal kicks.

Tactical Consideration:
Goalkeeping tactics encompass organization of the defense, positioning excellence, astute decision making concerning when and how to play the ball and distribution.  Proper positioning along the ball line / angle arc is imperative to optimizing the GK’s technical skills in regaining possession of the ball for his team.  Reading the cues the game provides to know when to come off the ball line / angle arc positioning is just as important as knowing when to challenge on a breakaway.  Recognizing that “taking away” angles is possible on every shot and knowing when and how to execute this strategy can be the difference between a save or a goal.  And if the GKer is the last defender, then he is also the first attacker making distributions vitally important to maintaining possession and dictating the tempo of the attack.

Communication with team, especially defenders – clear, concise and with authority
Positional play along the ball line angle arc at varying distance and angles
Positional play in anticipation of various crosses including corners and cut backs
Positional play on IFK’s and DFK’s including penalty kicks.
Decision-making as the first attacker
Knowledge of the game in general and his teams defense in particular

Psychological Considerations
The mental abilities and capabilities of the GK must be among the highest on the team. Mental toughness is not an option it is the critical element to successful goalkeeping.  How the GK deals with mistakes, the failure of conceding goals will directly impact his performance and that ofhis team.
Attitude and Motivation
Ability to concentrate and stay focused.
Assertiveness and Aggressiveness – and knowing the difference between the two
Self-confidence and the ability to convey to and instill it in his teammates
Knowledge and vision – knowing your teams defense, the opponent, being able to read the  game

Physical Considerations

A goalkeeper’s  on-field confidence and “presence” is based in part on their agility, power, quickness, size, speed and strength.
Agility and Mobility
Speed in thought, action and reaction
Stamina to play at peak performance when under pressure
Physical fitness and associated mental toughness

Goalkeeping is part physical, part psychological, part technical, part tactical, but the most important part of goalkeeping is salesmanship. That is, selling everyone else on the field that you are confident, competent and in complete control of your environment.  When your team has complete confidence in your ability between the pipes they will play much more confidently, aggressively and tenaciously in front of you thereby making your job easier.  And when you play with and exude poise and confidence in your ability opponents will take notice as well. 


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