The “boom” that soccer is currently suffering at all levels is palpable evidence. The technological development and the different platforms through which soccer can be watched worldwide have brought another dimension to this sport and its participants. Nowadays, both clubs and players are actual companies capable of generating enormous resources. Television rights, brand sponsorships, and big stadiums; all contribute to increasing the means to professionalize the clubs.
For a few years now, one of the beneficiaries of this circumstance has been the goalkeeping coach, getting more immersed in the professional soccer network. The goalkeeper coach plays an essential role both at the youth level, intending to establish the most important fundamentals, and at the professional level in order to achieve the highest standards.
The goalkeeper coach’s technical and tactical function through the specific training is well-known. However, his work does not stop here, and has become part of the technical staff’s decision-making about the tasks to be performed during the practices, the team’s tactics to carry out, etc. The role of the goalkeeping coach is growing in importance to the same extent as the goalkeeper’s influence on the game, considering him not only a simple defender of the goal but also another field player.
As a formation organization, we are proud and happy about our fundamental and necessary contribution of the goalkeeper coach to the world of soccer. Nevertheless, on a daily basis, we can still generate some questions revolving around his figure.
Where does the need for a goalkeeping coach come from? Is the work of the goalkeeping coach just limited to the specific training as a specialist in the matter?
Our perspective departs from the opinion that soccer needs talent and hard work to practice it at the highest level. Nothing would be possible if either of these two factors were missing from the equation. A talented player with little capacity for sacrifice will never make it to the top level, and in the same way, a very sacrificial player with no talent will find it difficult to progress to the highest standards.
How does talent develop? What are the keys to talent?
These are two very concrete questions, but at the same time very ambiguous, with a multitude of answers depending on the people to whom they are addressed. From our point of view, the answer can be summed up in three items mutually dependent: high- intensity practice, motivation and expertise instruction.
In other words: sacrifice, effort and perseverance, accompanied by an intrinsic motivation propitiated by the player’s own desire to improve, and guided by a capable coach who helps to achieve the desired objectives for an adequate development of talent. This is where we value the actual function of the goalkeeper coach, whose methodology strengthens the links between these three keys of talent and takes them to a higher level.
WE ARE A TALENT POWERHOUSE
The goalkeeping coach is a specialist in charge of organizing and synthesizing the content, adapting it and making it conducive to the learning of any goalkeeper, regardless of his level. He is in charge of dictating what to work on, how, when and why. He is also responsible for generating a motivating context through the task itself, the use of the material, and the reflection, in order to encourage the goalkeepers to achieve the goals to limits that they could not reach by themselves. Last but not least, the goalkeeping coach is in charge of promoting and supervising the high-intensity performance of the goalkeepers during their practices, pushing them to constantly work close to their limits.
As you can see, the keys to talent are multifactorial, but they are closely intertwined. We can not ignore any of them, especially the one that depends on us: the expertise coaching. As specialists, it is essential to keep a continuous training that provides ourselves with new tools and perspectives. It is only through knowledge that we can polish an adapted methodology to each goalkeeper’s needs, know the technical and tactical contents of the goalkeeper position, and know different perspectives and methods of goalkeeper training. In short, being continuously updated generates the power, as master instructors, to develop the talent in our goalkeepers. It is a serious mistake to think that we already know enough and that our methodology is the best that it could be. It will never be enough because we will need different tools for each context and each goalkeeper.
As we have already mentioned, we are also in control to create motivating contexts that positively influence the goalkeepers towards the tasks. We must take care of this factor from very early on because many athletes, including goalkeepers, abandon their sports practice at an early age due to a lack of motivation or loss of interest. Especially in training with children, we can’t forget the need for enjoyment and fun as one more element of the daily motivation towards the practice of the exercises and tasks. Finally, another of our duties is to ensure intense practice that is measured according to the goalkeeper’s abilities. It is essential to understand that talent development is a slow and gradual process that requires a lot of training to not give up on the attempt. Without work, without repeating tasks, without reflecting, without failing and correcting; without all of this, repeated almost to the point of exhaustion, it is impossible to develop talent.
Talent is an abstract factor but easy to identify in the eyes of experts. All athletes try to acquire it, but only very few succeed, and soccer clubs spend a lot of money looking for talented players. Observing the hotbeds of talent in world soccer and watching the great players flourish is a task that has been developed for years from different fields such as psychology or neuroscience. To ensure the self-motivation, intense practice and knowledge of the game will help us to create our own cradle of talent.