The success or failure of any goalkeeper revolves around their ability or inability to move their feet, get set or deal with a situation. It simply does not matter that you have the softest hands in the world if your feet do not get those “soft” hands to the ball. But, once you can get there and get set, these hands are the next critical step in having success. Yes, I agree there are a lot of other very important aspects of the game that the goalkeeper needs to possess (reading the game, communication, distribution, etc.), but without good feet and hands, everything else is a mute point.
If you watch top-level goalkeepers, they always seem to be in the right position, make easy saves and dive very little. Well, it is not just a coincidence that this happens. They have great feet that are quick, agile and strong. Oh yeah, and they have great hands that typically catch everything within their grasp with little rebounds or dropped balls. This is the true mark of a quality goalkeeper.
It amazes me how many goalkeepers and trainers want to spend most of their goalkeeper training diving after balls…why would you want to dive if you do not need to? Why not work on your feet more so you do not need to dive all the time? Thus saving your body from injury and being able to put the ball back into play quicker by already being on your feet. Myself as a former pro can say that the majority of my training revolved around moving my feet, getting set and dealing with simple shots. YES, simple shots! Balls that I could handle and catch cleanly were the majority of my repetitions. The reason? To stay technically sharp and gain very valuable confidence prior to upcoming matches. This important confidence element is crucial to any goalkeeper. Simply stated, confidence is going to come from being able to do simple things well. Most pros train the same way by keeping things simple…if you ever get the chance to watch a pro train I would highly recommend it. You will be amazed at how simple the training is and how easy they make it look.
How can we work on our feet? The first thing you can do is try to find a local speed and agility trainer around your area. Most fitness centers currently offer this type of programming and I highly recommend it. Your training will consist of a lot of cone work, speed ladders, mini hurdles, etc. Once you get comfortable with your feet and they are becoming quicker, we must then begin to bring these exercises into your goalkeeper training and incorporate them with your hands. For example, moving your feet quickly through a few cones to get set, deal with a shot and handle it clean. A golden rule in our program is to keep everything below your waist quick and above the waist very RELAXED…the reason? We need our feet to get us places quickly and get set, but our upper body is what we catch the ball with and it needs to be soft and relaxed. RELAX, RELAX, RELAX with your hands and upper body!
Do not be afraid to make up your own exercises and test your feet in your own way. As long as you are moving your feet and then getting them set, you will be fine. We tell our goalkeepers in our program that you simply cannot catch enough of balls in the course of the day. Get as many quality repetitions in as you can and you will see the benefits in your play in matches!
ONE on ONE Soccer Goalkeeper School (National) - www.ONEonONEsoccer.com, National Director - Todd Hoffard The Goalkeeper School is by far the most technical environment you can find in the nation. We are the only staff that is made up entirely by Division I college coaches, regional/national team coaches and or professional goalkeepers. Also, we monitor our goalkeepers for the entire year to follow their development.