A Goalkeeper in football is arguably the most important player on the pitch. They are your last line of defence. And when a football season has ended, and you look back to the pivotal moments of the past campaigns. There will be times where your Goalkeeper has made last gasp saves to win the game or even save a penalty in the dying moments of the game to rescue a vital point.

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Goalkeepers, on almost all occasions, wear the no.1 shirt to symbolise they are the 1st man in the team. A goalkeeper’s main role on the pitch is to keep the ball out of the back of the net. And they are the only player on the pitch (minus the opposition goalkeeper) that can use their hands!

What makes a good goalkeeper?

Quick Reflexes

A reflex is an action that is performed without conscious thought as a response to a stimulus. A goalkeeper’s reflexes are in my opinion the most important trait of a keeper. As this links with their reaction time, how long a keeper takes to react to an unprecedented event.

If a goalkeeper has poor reflexes, it will be incredibly tough for them to make it “big time”. As reflex saves are what makes a keeper stand out from everybody else. And I feel as though reflex saves are most definitely the biggest stand out. When you look back on the career of a keeper.

How to improve your reflexes?

  • The turn and stop goalkeeper training drill one of the most popular drills to improve your reflexes as a goalkeeper. With this drill helping you develop your reaction time and recognition. The drill starts with the goalkeeper turned facing the goal. With the training partner standing on the penalty spot with footballs. The partner will then take shots at the keeper. Making sure he signals just before he strikes the ball and then the keeper must turn around quickly to make the save. This can be done either with the trainer kicking the ball directly from the ground. Or drop kicking the ball out of his/her hands.

  • The parrying goalkeeper training drill requires two partners with you. Having one partner pass the ball to the other who will quickly take a shot near where you are stood in the goal. You then attempt to make a strong parry off to the side to avoid a rebound.

  • The “Wall Ball” goalkeeper training drill is an old-fashioned drill but still to this day is very effective. Rather than a football, you need a tennis ball. And obviously a wall and by standing around eight feet away from the wall you throw the ball. And when it bounces back catch or parry it. As you get better/more comfortable, throw the ball harder to make your reactions better.

Good Positioning

A keepers positioning is not only where the keeper places himself to make a save; but also, is how a goalkeeper adapts to scenarios over the pitch. Positioning yourself in relation to where the ball is on the pitch is vital; even when your own team has the ball, you have to be ready to change where you are. For example if the opposition wins the ball back and so they are on the counter or where to stand when your team are playing forward out from the back.

Here I am showing you the average positions of where a goalkeeper should stand depending on where your team has the ball. The white rectangles are shown as the ball and the black circles are the position of the goalkeeper.

This does obviously not account for every goalkeeper, as it is dependent on the style of football the keeper plays in. It shows here the importance of a goalkeeper positioning himself somewhere around the D on the edge f the box. This is important because it allows the keeper to be able to meet long balls. Over the top of the defence from the opposition.

Here are some other examples of the importance of positioning:

  • When an opposition player takes a shot from here> its vital that the keeper cover the near post to narrow the angle in which the striker must score.
  • From a corner, the keeper must have command of the area and so position himself in the middle of the 6-yard box so that he/she has the best chance of catching or punching the ball.

Safe Handling

This reflects the ability of goalkeeper to hold onto the ball when making a save. There are 5 ways in which a goalkeeper training can help give himself the best opportunity catch a ball rather than parry it:

  • Always keep your eyes on the ball.
  • Position your body square to the ball, with your weight adjusted slightly forward.
  • Present your hands out to the ball by allowing your little fingers to touch. This creates a pathway for the ball to follow towards your body.
  • As the shot comes in, guide the ball towards your stomach or chest and then allow the ball to hit your body.
  • Wrap your hands and forearm tightly around the ball to stop any momentum

Catching the ball is so important. If you are able to catch the ball rather than parrying it away or punching it, then it means that there will be no chance of the opposition scoring a rebound/ following up. However, sometimes catching the ball is not always the right thing to do as you could spill the ball, or it could slip out of your hands. This would most likely be the case if you are facing a powerful shot and so the risk of you trying to catch it would be too low.

Distribution

The distribution of a goalkeeper tends to be how good they are at throwing and passing the ball, whether it is a 5-yard pass or a 50 yard one. In recent years, goalkeepers have been demanded to use their feet more as the game has developed and so teams who play out from the back often use their goalkeeper as an extra defender.

At this time in football, one of the most prominently known for his composure and passing on the ball is Manchester City keeper, Ederson. He has the ability to make cross-field passes in the blink of an eye and in a Champions League game against Schalke, he produced and 83-yard assist for Raheem Sterling which won the game.

Some in punditry even label Ederson good enough to play as a midfielder with his passing ability and due to a change in the goal kick rule in the past couple of years it means he can exploit this ability.

This new rule allows players of the team in possession to have their own players encroach the penalty are area giving teams a much more creative way to play football. Not only does this give the option to play short; it means that opposition players are dragged forward in order to press the defenders and so it creates space further up the pitch.

Notable Goalkeepers

Over the last 50 years, there have been many Goalkeepers that will forever be remembered for their spectacular edge such as Lev Yashin who was nicknamed as the “Black Spider” because its seemed like he had eight arms to save everything, an incredible man who saved over 150 penalties, kept around 500 clean sheets and played a total of 812 games.

Goalkeepers are not just known for their saving ability but are also their supernatural like tendencies. For example, Rene Higuita who is most prominently known for his spectacular “scorpion save” against England in 1995, a man who would’ve had a fairly inconclusive/under the radar career if it wasn’t for this one special moment.

Rogerio Ceni is probably the strangest goalkeeper to ever play, a player who scored 65 goals whilst playing over 500 games for Sao Paulo in a 25-year period. He was their free-kick taker and in one season alone he scored a 21 goals, a substantial figure that even the majority of forwards struggle to get near.

Conclusion

Whilst there are many intricate ways and drills to train as a goalkeeper, the easiest form and probably most effective way of goalkeeper training is to watch some of the best of the best. You should find and watch how professionals work and train.

England’s national team always posts videos on YouTube of how the goalkeeper’s train and so picking up tips from these videos is always good. Going out with your friends and letting them take shots against you is another effective way as well, but mainly just try to experiment when playing in net and so you will improve.

Here are Some of our Favourite Football (Soccer) Cleats

Here we will be giving more of an opinion, rather than facts. Are the cleats worth the price that they are being sold at? Should you upgrade from your current cleats, depending on what boots you own? What features stand out in these cleats? If any. Does it do the job? Speed, control, stability etc. Depending on your needs/preferences. We can also mention its durability, if we have collected enough data on the specific cleats.

What did we expect vs. what we got. Is it maybe overrated/underrated?

Elite

Here’s our pick from the very best of the bunch.

Pro

On your way to the pro leagues? Here’s our pick.

Academy

Want something to start with? Have a look at our pick.

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