Irish Grassroots Football

3 : 1

A good goalkeeper can mean the difference between success and failure for a team.

Since I started coaching I have witnessed very few goalkeepers that can play with their feet. We have a tendency to produce great keepers in Ireland but very few are actually technically good on the floor.

If games stats tell us that a keeper touches the ball 3 times with his feet versus 1 with his hands, then why do we focus so much on shot stopping?

Could it be, that managers are more concerned with winning then developing? Is this the reason why the big lad takes all the goal kicks? I believe this mentality is preventing the goalie from being the creator of most attacks. It is also putting your team at a disadvantage, having a player drop back to take the goal kicks.

Move those feet…

The success or failure of any goalkeeper revolves around their ability or inability to move their feet, get set or deal with a situation.  It simply does not matter that you have the softest hands in the world if your feet do not get those “soft” hands to the ball.  But, once you can get there and get set, these hands are the next critical step in having success.  I’m not forgetting that there are a lot of other very important aspects of the game that the goalkeeper needs to possess (reading the game, communication, distribution, etc.), but having good feet and not just hands is what will make you stand our from the rest.

If you watch the very best goalkeepers, they always seem to be in the right position, make easy saves and dive very little.  Well, it is not just a coincidence that this happens.  They have great feet that are quick, agile and strong.  Oh yeah, and they have great hands that typically catch everything within their grasp with little rebounds or dropped balls.  This is the true mark of a quality goalkeeper. Most goalkeepers can only make 2-3 saves per game, yet they distribute the ball with their feet well over ten times per game.

One to One coaching

Its is now common for keepers to be instructed by a teams goalkeeping coach and some even pay for extra tuition. Yes, I see an improvement with their shot stopping but I rarely see any difference from one season to the next with their ball distribution (FEET).

It amazes me how many goalkeepers and the coaches want to spend most of their goalkeeper training diving after balls…why do this, if you don’t need to?  Why not work on your feet, after all you use them more in a game then you would your hands and diving around that much could cause injury, especially when most kids train on hard astro pitches.

The goalkeeper is one of the most important players on the field – they are the last line of defense and the first line of attack. To play the position well, requires special skills and training.

Good footwork is the foundation of solid goalkeeping. If a keeper has quick feet, they can easily get themselves into position to make the easy catch, rather than having to dive at balls just at the edge of their reach all the time. Good goalkeepers make every save look easy, and the key to that is good footwork.

Work those feet..

  1. Start with some speed and agility training
  2. Don’t separatethe keeper from the rest of the training, involve them in all ball work.
  3. When working the keeper, work the feet and then hands. Use ladders and cones for quick feet. For example, moving your feet quickly through a few cones to get set, deal with a shot and handle it clean.  Keep everything below your waist quick and above the waist very RELAXED…the reason?  Keepers need their feet to get places quickly and get set, but their upper body is what they catch the ball with and it needs to be soft and relaxed.
  4. Get your keepers to do extra work outside of training and if you or they are paying for coaching, ask your coach to work the feet more.
  5. Distributing the ball: work on receivingthe ball, control and distribution. This can be done with phases of play allowing the goalkeepers to have free play and the freedom to distribute without being tackled during practice.
  6. Get your keeper to make up his/her own exercises.
  7. Always be moving during the game, keep those feet busy!

You can find hundreds of videos on the net relating to this topic.

Often the difference between a save and a goal is just half a step. Use the feet to get the body behind the ball.

Research: Todd Hoffard – Goalkeeper