Goalkeeper Fundamentals

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Update: Take a look at the Coerver Goalkeeping Essentials DVD.

Julio Cesar of Inter Milan
Getty Images

Let’s try to learn how to become the best goalkeeper we can possible be. It doesn’t matter if you’re tall or short, a goalkeeper can develop their own style of play. Take Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando, he’s not very tall, but he’s quick and reads the game extremely well so he’s always in the right position. What matters for keepers is that you’re positioned correctly and ready to make the save. But how to you become a great goalkeeper?

Well, as a goalkeeper, you’ve got to master the fundamentals of the position. Some people say to play goalkeeper you’ve got to be a little crazy, since you’re constantly putting yourself in dangerous positions, whether that’s stopping a one on one or coming out to win a cross.

But the key to playing keeper is to read the game and limit the number of times you have to make dangerous saves or reacting at the last second since you’re out of position. As a keeper you want to get to the ball before anyone else, obviously, and that means reading the game and positioning yourself properly. Let’s take a look at some of the fundamentals of playing keeper and some drills to make you a better keeper overall.

  1. Ball familiarity – juggle the ball with your hands, forearms, writs, and then fists up in the air.
  2. Add goalkeeper to the possession game – work on your touch with both feet.
  3. Clearing the soccer ball – sending a long ball to the corners, picking out a player, with both feet.
  4. Flexibility in your shoulders – figure eights with the ball between your legs using your hands for flexibility and range of motion.
  5. Tap the ball between your feet – improve touch. Work on control and confidence with the ball.
  6. Goalie wars – place goals about 30 yards away from one another. Keepers take shots on each other.
  7. Narrow the angle – reduce target size when challenged by an attacker, come off your line to close angle.
  8. Treat all shots with respect – no matter the distance or who is shooting, the ball can do funny things in the air or when it bounces in front of you.
  9. Play every moment – don’t dwell on the past or future. If you get scored on forget about it right away and make the next save.
  10. Take charge of the field of play – lead your team from the back since you can see the whole field Let them know you are there and ready.
  11. Cultivate an on field personality – smart, fearless and tough.
  12. Read the game – prevent one on ones by coming off your line and winning the ball before the player has time to get a shot off – make them get their head down.
  13. Develop communication with your defenders – tell them when they have time, praise them for good plays and instill confidence in them.
  14. Don’t neglect work on distribution skills – long throws, kicks and punts.
  15. Be organized on set pieces – every man should be marked and accounted for.
  16. Be positive.
  17. Model your game after a top goalkeeper – copy everything they do in the games and in practice.

Also, increasingly, in the modern game of soccer, goalkeepers must be good with the ball at their feet, both feet at that. Teams like Barcelona and Bayern Munich, use their keeper to keep possession of the soccer ball and sometimes even the keeper or act like a sweeper in the case of Manuel Neuer. Simply knock the soccer ball back and forth against a wall will help improve your touch on the soccer ball.

Check out Chelsea’s Petr Cech working on his goalkeeper reaction time in this drill – using tennis balls:

More Goalkeeper Information:



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