About the Author:
My name is Conor Fitzpatrick, and I am a member of the Team Sports section of DECATHLON, Baile Munna.
I have been a goalkeeper for 11 years, playing for Baldoyle United all the way through, also gaining the experience of playing on the NDSL Academy squad.
Over the years, I have had the privilege of working with some of the best goalkeeper coaches around, including former Swansea City and Crystal Palace goalkeeper, Matt Gregg, and current Republic of Ireland u19s goalkeeper coach Dermot O’Neill.
Today I will share some information that I was given over my time as a goalkeeper that has got me to where I am today.
The Basics of Goalkeeping
The most important part of goalkeeping is what is known as the “Set Position”. The set position, otherwise known as the ready position, is bound to help every goalkeeper to be ready and to expect the unexpected.
To get in the set position you must:
- Have your hands out in front of you, around the height of your ribs.
- Slightly bend your knees.
- Stand on the balls of your feet. Being flat-footed is the worst thing a goalkeeper can do, and it is the difference between a good goalkeeper and a great one. Being set with your heels on the floor slows down the time taken to dive and make very important saves.
- Make sure your posture is good in this position. Your chest should be slightly forward, but your back should always be straight.
- Make sure your hands and feet are shoulder width apart, as it makes for a better reaction time when facing the shots.
Taking these pointers into advice, you can practice standing in the set position, and then incorporate it into a footwork drill (for more advanced goalkeepers).
Communication is very important in the modern game. Not just with football, but with anything else in life, communication is vital, to tell fellow team mates/colleagues what is happening at that time.
It is vital for goalkeepers to communicate with their defenders. For example, if the ball came near me and I could get to it, I would rush out to it, but I would give a very loud scream “KEEPERS” to inform the defenders that the ball is mine. Another key piece of communication necessary for goalkeepers is when creating a wall to defend a free kick. Depending on the position of the free kick, the goalkeeper should decide how many players should be in the wall. Once the players are compact together, the goalkeeper should stand in line with the post, and direct the wall in whatever way they feel comfortable to block the free kick, by shouting “ Wall, LEFT” and “Wall, RIGHT”. By doing this, you will give your wall every possibility of blocking the free kick, and can take a lot of the praise if the wall blocks it, because you know that you set up that wall!!
The last thing that I will talk about in this piece is distribution. Distribution is your passing and kicking ability. In the modern day game, it is so important for goalkeepers to be able to play with their feet, as well as with their hands. One goalkeeper that I think has amazing distribution is Everton and England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. There are many clips of him on YouTube, kicking the ball out perfectly to his players, and his calmness on the ball under pressure is phenomenal.
One piece of advice that I would give for distribution, is unless there is a clear and open player in the middle to pass to, do not play the ball down the middle of the pitch. The best thing to do is to kick the ball towards the sides of the pitch. The reason I recommend this is because there are more opposition players in the middle of the pitch, and the ball is more than likely going to come right back at you, and there is a chance that you won't be ready to deal with the danger. Kicking out to the sides gives you that extra space and extra time to be ready for an attack.
One way that I would work on my distribution is to get a training partner, and pass the ball, using both feet (if capable). As soon as you complete five successful passes with each foot, move back ten feet, and before you know it, you will be very comfortable using both feet
Gear for goalkeepers:
As most of us know, goalkeeping requires a lot of bravery and courage, to face shots and blocks from anywhere!
It always helps to have protective padded gear. In summer, the ground becomes very hard and rocky, making the pitch very hard to dive on without getting injured. This is where padded shorts come in very useful, to protect you from hard impact on the ground, and to provide more support for your knees, hips, etc.
Choosing the right gloves is very important as well.
I am a big fan of the Kipsta Super Soft-Grip gloves. The latex is very soft, which provides comfort and a very reliable grip. Choosing the right gloves allows me to play my best game with confidence!
Whether your on the pitch or in goal, you can shop everything you need for Football here at Decathlon.