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Footwork for goalkeepers

Footwork for goalkeepers
Footwork is still the great unknown even for many goalkeeping coaches and, on top of that, a hardly ever trained content specifically and with the team. This time, Diego Caneda gives us his point of view on this aspect of the game.

Football is in continuous process of evolution and the figure of the goalkeeper is immerse in constant change. One of those changes is related to the implication and participation of the goalkeeper in the team play. He’s not one more of the bunch anymore! Now the goalkeeper must emerge as a determining factor in the building of the team game. In order to succeed, we must develop new training lines that provide the goalkeeper with a number of new tools, different to the ones that used to define him.

Nowadays, over two thirds of the actions a goalkeeper performs in a football match are related to the beginning, restart and continuity of the game. So, we have to consider making progress and guide our teaching-learning lines to efficiency in offensive actions, always based on the knowledge of the own game. That progress can’t be a goalkeeper issue only, but it needs to be a team global process in which the goalkeeper is a completely integrated part inside the team play. So, we must get him interested, since early ages, in analysis and observation at technical-tactical level about a series of concepts that allow him to master the team play in the beginning, restart and continuity phases.

There are too many actions to leave such an important part of our training to chance. Don’t you think?

The game is the one which determines if it is appropriate to play short, intermediate o long. As coaches, we must work to make the goalkeeper observe, interpret and make right decisions to meet the demands of the match. There is a mistaken belief, in part inherited from a less evolved football school, that the goal kick means to move the danger away from our goal. But, if we make that action pointlessly, without purpose, we are getting just the opposite. The faster the ball gets forward, the faster it comes back. The search for generated spaces, unmarked players… are concepts that we need to work collectively with our goalkeepers if we want to improve the long passing game, otherwise, we will be dividing the players, promoting random actions and promoting the rival counterattack.

On the other hand, if we want to play short, we must to take into account that, because of the characteristics of the goalkeeper demarcation and his position as the “last” player in the field, he will usually be the only unmarked player most times. That demarcation makes the team gain a competitive lead (positional, numerical…) over the rival.

Taking advantage of the benefits the game offers, is an important aim to make progress in the game. To make sure the goalkeeper is offensively efficient, since football is variable and it’s constantly changing, we must consider the principle of intentionality of the goalkeeper. The advantages come and go in moments of chaos and “quiet” in football, and time is one of the most important factors in sports, so all the goalkeeper actions, offensive actions in this case, must intend this: TO PROGRESS IN THE GAME.

Goalkeeper coaches need to think about why we demand individual offensive actions to collective tactic situations, with the technique as our only argument (not traditionally associated with goalkeepers, as passes, kicks…).

The one who owns time and space in sports, is the owner of the game and will be responsible of our chance of success.



This question sometimes arises when I talk to my colleagues. We believe in the need to incorporate the goalkeeper into the team play but, are goalkeeping coaches incorporated into the game? Do we understand everything that is going on in the game? What does to be efficient mean?

Being efficient is not connecting a pass between the goalkeeper and the field player (the problem in statistics). Being efficient is getting that connection in advantageous conditions in order to progress in the game. The field players must act as the goalkeeper benefactors and do not let die our offensive chance.

Image: Restart of play of the Belgium vs Brazil match FIFA World Cup Russia 2018

Interpreting what happens in the game and lateralities (side to side lateral movements) in the box allow us to take advantage of the benefits that may occur.

We’ve been able to generate a myriad of defensive situations as realistic as possible, making Spanish methodology one of the best ones in the world. But we still keep ending our team tasks with shot on goal (we all remember the attack-defence series without transition phase from the goalkeeper, and the goal as the end of the series). The game demands the restart of the goalkeeper (generally the most repeated action during a football match). That’s why we must work so all the goalkeeping coaches include objectives on his tasks for goalkeepers. This is the only way to achieve the truly integration of the goalkeeper in the team play. At the same time, as goalkeeping coaches, we should be more actively involved in these team sessions, not only correcting goalkeepers’ defensive actions, but from a more global point of view. A lot of learning spaces take place during the training sessions and we shouldn’t focus on just only one of them.

The goalkeeper participation in certain moments don’t need to be directly as someone in possession of the ball. In the image, Alisson generates a favourable situation for Brazil just with a support movement and without touching the ball.

The current demand and the future trend require more and more of the goalkeeper: just saving is no longer enough. The goalkeeper must also avoid scoring chances, shots, goals and restart the game properly. For this reason and from the game, we have to teach our goalkeepers what happens on the game, so they can interpret what is going on and make wise decisions.


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