In a perfect world, goalkeeper training would be involved with team training. But with the environment we have in the United States, most goalkeepers do not have access to daily goalkeeper training. Many clubs are fairly large with well over 100 teams and most of them only carry one or two goalkeeper coaches. Even if the club had only 50 goalkeepers, it is still too much for two goalkeeper coaches to handle. 

I remember when I was 15 and having trainings where 18 year olds and older would shoot a 60-70 MPH ball from 10-12 yards away. This is the same thing that younger goalkeepers go through but with a lot more pain. It will toughen you up mentally but there’s a serious risk for an injury to occur. Many coaches will work on breakaways but the prime focus is for the field players to score while constantly screaming at the goalkeeper to come out faster or more aggressive. The problem with that is that the coach never explained when you should come out, how to come out, or why to even come out. At one point or another, every parent has heard their goalkeeper be made fun of, blamed for goals, or my personal favorite, get yelled at for not being able to take a goal kick. Despite all of this, coaches have never made goalkeepers a focus during training. They are developed to be there to block shots and are expected to not make mistakes. 

Many times coaches believe that the goalkeeper should participate in all of their training sessions. In a perfect world, they would. But it is only beneficial for the goalkeeper to participate in the team session if it involves him or her doing more than just getting shots, footwork (ball/cone work), fitness, or anything that doesn’t create flow. 

What is flow? The term “flow training” comes from Firas Zahabi who says that training should create a sensation of happiness where the athlete forgets how long they have been there. Shooting on goal will not create flow for a goalkeeper but it will for field players so this only helps one of the parties involved. If the goalkeeper isn’t going to get something beneficial out of team training, the primary focus should always be goalkeeper training. 

A forward wouldn’t do training sessions that are created for goalkeepers so assuming that a general team training session will only benefit goalkeepers is absurd. But there are drills that will help the goalkeeper grow with the team. For example, tactical sessions where the head coach is explaining how the team will be playing during the season is a session that the goalkeeper should never miss. Sessions where we set up how to defend set plays, corner kicks, or how to deal with playing out of pressure, are also critical for goalkeepers to attend. 

The goal is to be more than a shot-stopper. In my opinion, the goalkeeper should be with their team training only once a week (except under special circumstances) and a minimum of two nights a week doing goalkeeper development. I would advise all head and assistant coaches to learn more about what their goalkeeper needs. How to involve and utilize the goalkeeper during the time they have with you and how to engage with the goalkeeper during the time they are with the goalkeeper coach. 

There should be no reason to cut a goalkeeper and get a new one every season. The hardest thing to teach is the coaching philosophy. If the coach switches goalkeepers year after year, then the coach is results oriented and is expressing little to no interest in working with the goalkeeper. Parents would not be happy if all the field players did goalkeeper practice for 50 minutes and only shot for the last ten minutes, yet we believe this way of training is good enough for goalkeepers. The goalkeeper is the player with the most responsibility on the field. A mistake by a field player won’t necessarily lead to giving up a goal but a mistake by the goalkeeper often ends up with the ball in the back of the net. That’s why I believe there needs to be a bigger emphasis on the understanding of the position by all head and assistant coaches.

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