There are enough colleges for any goalkeeper to continue playing at the next level. The real question here is what level does your child wish to play? I’m personally not a parent but from the hundreds of families I’ve interacted with, I would say most parents could care less what Division their child is playing in. 

But most, if not all, goalkeepers believe they have the ability to become a D1 goalkeeper. The reality is very few will be D1 goalkeepers and even fewer will be D1 starters. Here are the 3 must-haves in order to be a D1 standout. 

The ability to execute the correct element at the current time.

Many times as youth goalkeepers are being developed they are taught to focus on what they can save. It’s known as your bubble. Basically making sure you can save any shot that is in reach, only depending on your positioning. Well, the reality is we are rarely able to get into the perfect position.7 out of every 10 shots that end up in goal are taken within 8 yards. We begin to wonder if it’s smart to spend so much time on positioning during the development phase. Yes, positioning is a vital element that helps us, but only helps us when we have time. In most goals, you’re adjusting, moving, and yelling all while trying to keep control of your body. This is where performing current elements comes into play. Can you move faster with the correct footwork? Can you control your body to notice that the save will be done with your foot instead of your hand? Can you make a choice to punch a ball in between bodies instead of waiting for the play to continue? Should you punt a ball or side volley? I can go on and on about this. In a way, it is decision making, but in this case, it’s finding out if the goalkeeper has been given the right tools during their development to use the correct one. As the saying goes, “It’s better to have the tool and not need it than to need the tool and not have it.”

How do you develop this? Well, there’s no correct way, due to the fact that there are so many possibilities depending on your environment. The simplest way I can phrase it is by asking if you would only workout your legs, only your upper body or both if you were to workout once a week. Well, I think most people would do a full-body workout to keep everything tight and sharp. It’s the same thing in development. If they’re lucky, most goalkeepers train twice a week. And as a goalkeeper coach, we must figure out how to develop a goalkeeper in the best way. This is why bubbles and positioning may help you get to the college level, but you will not be able to compete against someone who has developed all the elements that a goalkeeper needs.

The ability to cover a large range

Manuel Neuer is regarded as the best/most influential goalkeeper of the decade. Jorge Campos at 5’7″ was regarded as the 3rd best goalkeeper of his generation, Lev Yashin is regarded as the best goalkeeper to ever play the game. What made these 3 goalkeepers special? Range. The ability to cover more space than the boxes that keep us goalkeepers confined into their area. The ability to push up with the team and become an effective 11th player. To have the proper elements to handle themselves outside of the box, which many believe it’s only about cutting out long balls and having a higher ability to pass the ball. 

Something very hard for most collegiate goalkeepers is the ability to cut out crosses in their box. But, if you’re a special elite goalkeeper, your range extends to covering anywhere between the 6yard box and pk spot. All this depends on the position of the ball on the field. But all this is under the term range. How much smaller can you make the field seem to the opposing team by being able to create a special range? You must also understand how much you can handle when a mistake happens, because there is a cost to having these attributes, and that’s goals against you. Because they will happen,

Impact on the game 

Now, this topic is a bit harder to explain because in this world of goalkeeping the normal stats don’t mean much. For example, if you win a state cup, and ecnl showcase, or any award and you received one goal and have 9 shutouts does that make you the best? I don’t know, but there is a possibility that your team is just very superior to the competition. So here is a way of knowing how your GAA matters. How many shots within an 8-yard distance are you effectively stopping? How many goals are you letting in? How many goals are you allowing to go in from outside the 18-yard box? In the 18/19 season, Jan Oblak let in 0 goals from a 15 yard + distance. This means that the only way a team could score on him is if they were inside the 18-yard box. This is how you should manage your stats. Not only looking at shutouts, because any goalkeeper knows that shutouts are a defensive effort. But the save ratio is based on the goalkeeper’s performance. 

What else?

Yes, there is a lot more that as a goalkeeper you need in order to get to the highest amateur level. But remember, at that level, 99.99% of the goalkeepers can save shots, can kick a ball, can communicate, can win the 6-yard box, and have the mental capacity to lead a team. I’ve been around amazing goalkeepers that came out of MLS academies, played on national teams, and have won many awards. Yet they weren’t able to play a game at that level. There is more that goes into this than only your physical skill set. Anything that you can do, they can do also. These are my 3 elements that many lack. They are a bit hard to understand but if you need more explanation please contact me.

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