Goalkeeper Fundamentals

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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 or Real Madrid keeper Iker Casillas, both goalkeepers are not very tall, but they’re both quick and read the game extremely well so they’re always in the right position to make the save. What matters for goalkeepers is that you’re positioned correctly and ready to make the save. But how to you become a great goalkeeper? How do you become a world class 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 goalkeeper is to read the game soccer and limit the number of times you have to make difficult saves or react at the last second since you’re out of position. Understanding the game of soccer is crucial, which comes with experience. As a goalkeeper you want to get to the soccer 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 goalkeeper 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.

Coerver Coaching Goalkeeping Essentials: adapting the usual Coerver pyramid method to the folks who wear gloves even in high summer. Learn more about this goalkeeping training program which gives you a good foundation of concepts to build off.

Also, increasingly, in the modern game of soccer, goalkeepers must be good with the soccer 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.

Watch Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea in this saves compilation video below to get inspired. A big part of being a goalkeeper is being confident in yourself. Even if you get scored on you have to rally yourself to make the next save. After all, it’s all about helping your team win and a win is a win whether you keep a clear sheet or take in a goal but still win 2-1. It’s about keeping your team in the game.

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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