Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

What makes a good goalkeeper?

dc1Edwin Van der Sar’s record of clean sheets for Manchester United got me thinking about what makes a good goalkeeper.

A lot of people have been saying Van der Sar is not a brilliant goalkeeper he just has a brilliant defence in front of him. Where are all his shot stopping exploits?

It’s always a misguided view that a good goalkeeper is just about making good saves. What a good goalkeeper also does is control his area and make give his defenders confidence in their relationship on the pitch with him. A good goalkeeper is always in the right place for his defenders and they learn to rely on that.

Van der Sar doesn’t appear to make great saves because his control of the penalty areas is second to none. His distribution and reading of situations means he is more likely to get the ball first time so it is not coming back at him from close range.

Any loose balls are quickly dealt with and his organisation of the players around him gives the defence a better chance of clearing the ball.

In many ways he is a good manager of his position as well as being a gifted player.

When you are coaching your goalkeepers this is what you should think about along with teaching him to dive.

Watch this video of goalkeeper training in Spain with Athletic Bilbao. You can pick up some good ideas to use with your goalkeeper during training sessions.

 Soccer Skills and Drills


14 Comments so far
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Very systematic and wonderful display of warm ups for Goalies.
I have a GU11 Red Goal Keeper, sometimes feels she’s very left out on her teams exploits.

Thank you.

Comment by Joe Alfred Posadas

How to learn petr cech skills of keeper I want to learn how to dive properly and not scared of the ball and learn keeper should do

Comment by Eddison

Eddison. Its upto you to learn to not flinch or turn ur body when the ball is struck at you, to be a good goalkeeper u must NOT be scared of the ball. Main reason for a goalkeeper is to keep the ball out of the net, and to me see no matter where it hits me as long as that ball does not cross the line im happy, ive had plenty off bad things happen while in goal, busted nose, gettin hit in the mid-section, one of the matches i was in, i dived and hit my head of the goalpost and all i needed to do was keep the ball out of the net. If you do get hurt do ur best to get hold of the ball and either throw it out of play or keep hold of it and go down. Also diving should only be used as a last resort, so if ur looking to be a good goal keeper u must also be quick on ur feet and have good reflexes. Ive had 7 years experience being a goal keeper, played for many teams and on my way now to a semi-pro team. It was far from easy. Dont try to be like another goal keeper either because some Gk’s have bad habits or bad techneque, do it your own way, the more you do it the more ull see what your doing right and wrong i started doing it when i was 10 i had no interest in goalkeeping what so ever ive played every position on the field but i felt like i wanted to be more responsible so i tried for goalkeeper and it turned out well, my 1st ever season i had a cleansheet every game and i was being tested constantly. some people just have the tecqneque already and some people need to learn it but no1 is any good without constant training. My advice would be start your footwork be on your toes every minute, work on your catching (Always lift your knee and shout KEEPER! as loud as you can), reflexes (turn your back on the ball and turn again before it gets struck at you), ball work (Keepers need to be good at passing), diving ( When your going to dive dont stand on the heel of the foot, bounch on your toes). Also get rid of bad habits like using your feet to save the ball.. always get your body behind it and use your hands. dont dive unless you need to it should only be used if it is 100% needed

Comment by Chris

great video best ive seen so far

Comment by mick hope

My son is 11 and trains with JUST4KEEPERS everyweek since he was 8.Its all he wants to be and is very good at it but has one serious flaw that can’t seem to be sorted out and thats if he plays above his age and a couple of goals go in he just “stops” playing!!! and i mean stops,he won’t dive or move and his kick outs go to pot as well.Its like he don’t give a damn and its very frustrating to watch the team breaking their necks to stay afloat while he leaves in goal after goal and usually they end up at a 10 or 15 nil defeat when it could have been a respectable 1 or 2 if he just tried to stop them.I feel he will eventually be asked to step down and he only wants to be a keeper and i spend alot of time and money assuring he gets to do it. pls help as am at my whits end with his attitude and last sat match really boiled people up when he stood there and let inover 10 goals cos he was “wet”!!!

Comment by mags phelan

Mags, My son is the same. He loves goalkeeping and is very very good but as soon as a couple of goals have gone past him, the face drops and he just doesn’t seem to want to carry on. We give him all the encouragement we can. He ends up being subbed… Any advice, much appreciated.

Comment by Elen

It may be a little late to answer, but the first thing you needed to teach your kid that in 90% of cases its not just keeper’s fault. It’s the forwards who let the ball being taken from them and not getting back to help defense, middle fielders and defenders who let the other team come close to the goal. Keeper is the last line of defense, not a wizard. The whole team is responsible, and only 10% of actual keeper errors. And even in that 10% keeper have to understand that everybody make mistakes, just keeper’s mistakes cost more.
My kid is just turned 9 and he is making a huge progress as a keeper. This is one of the first things I told my kid, and it seems to give him more confidence. Even the best goalkeepers in the world do lose their games from time to time.

Comment by Serge

Mags – your comment disturbs me. Your son should be enjoying playing this “game” not getting discouraged. Your attitude about how much money you have spent really says it all. Are you living vicarously through your child? Let him have fun with his own age group and stop dwelling on the wins or losses. Do you also yell from the sidelines and humiliate him even more when a goal goes against his team? I think you need to remember that you only have one childhood and it shapes the rest of your life. Lighten up – its only a game…or did you think he would be a world cup player at 11?

Comment by Jeannette

nice video 🙂

Comment by abed aydin

This video inspires me to be a better goalkeeper which I could train my students like that.

Comment by Moses

Hi im 14years old 1m90 and and with my arms stretched i have a span of 1m99 finger tip to finger tip and big hands . i heard that if you have long arms you make a good goalkeeper ?

Comment by Alexander Bond

My daughter is 13 years old and a goal keeper. She has been training with (Apex Soccer in USA NC) Ziggy Zigante for almost a year. She has improve a lot since that time and is very quick and agile in the box. She is the fastest player on her U14 team, very competative and can jump very high and long. My only concern is her size. She is 5 foot 3.5 inches tall and about 105 pounds. When I see other keepers they look so big.


Comment by Tom

This was very enlightening and I will be adding a lot of those drills to my practice. As being a goaltender I have found the position very stressful, but I have a good mental game, preferably like getting shots on but not goals. I really want to know positioning as I have found myself out of position rarely, and sometimes it costs my team a goal. I really have trouble positioning when the opponent is at the 18 yard box (2nd Box), and when they get closer where to position myself. Also on a 1 v 1 with a on coming player, i usually run at him to minimize his shoot space. I am 16, 5.11 and weigh 156 i feel like that isn’t the form of a goaltender. Diving it becoming one of my favourite things, as when you save it you get tons of credit out there hah. Does it matter what your size is? Could you send videos or advice to thank you every much!

Comment by Lucas Van Natter

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