Number One as the Eleventh Player;

a part of the team, not apart from the team

In this article, we are going delve into depths of the role of the goalkeeper and how the demands placed on them have evolved dramatically over time. The constant debate around goalkeeper coaching in isolation, and coaching the goalkeeper within team practice will be challenged for years to come; although in my personal opinion, there is a place for both... which I will discuss in more detail later.

The evolution of goalkeeping hasn’t been a recent occurrence, with goalkeepers like Rogério Ceni of Brazil, René Higuita of Columbia, and José Luis Chilavert of Paraguay; comparable to the likes of modern goalkeepers such as Ederson Moraes of Brazil, Jordan Pickford of England, in their ability to defend the space and protect the goal with great creativity and athleticism.

The same can be said for goalkeeper coaching - don’t get me wrong, the days of the goalkeeper(s) and coach are sent over to ‘compost corner’, with just enough space for 10x10, a couple of cones, a few footballs and left to they’re own devices are still among us. However, there is a lot of fantastic work going on around the world, where coaches are going into great detail about the demands of the goalkeepers across all disciplines.

Since the introduction of the back-pass rule in 1992, the emphasis on goalkeepers having to use their feet in open play much more frequently. During the days of the back pass, goalkeepers would be able to manage the game and relieve pressure by picking the ball up and drop it down. The back-pass rule has conditioned the goalkeeper to be able to use their feet effectively; whether it be to clear the ball and potentially reduce the risk of losing possession, or retain and progress possession under pressure.

Having now established what the roles & responsibilities of the goalkeeper are within the game as a player, and expectations of them as a defender of the space behind the defensive unit and protector of the goal; how can we as coaches and educators of the game identify the needs of the individual and

collaborate within the team philosophy and principles?

The importance of realism and relevance in practice has to be considered when working with goalkeepers in isolation. As a coach, can you cover all phases of the game? Can you recreate similar elements of the game that the goalkeeper will be exposed to? Is the workload appropriate for the individual and the position in general? Does the goalkeeper get a wide range of cues, triggers and interference to be able to adapt efficiently to the picture in front of them?

This is where it’s important to find a balance between position specific coaching and coaching the goalkeeper within the team.

What happens when you’ve taken the time to go into great detail when planning a session, the goalkeepers go over to the team and they are doing something completely different? How can we as clubs and coaches ‘bridge this gap’ to ensure that position specific practice leads into the team training?

Author: Jamie-Lloyd Davies