I recently traveled to Germany to study Bayern Munich’s Academy through one of our club program partnerships for Chicago City Soccer Club and their relationship with Global Premier Soccer. Learning through classroom seminars and field sessions how one of the top soccer programs in the world approaches player development was an invaluable experience. But the single most important takeaway for me was a discussion we had early on about defining terms.
This discussion centered around the notion that you and I might be talking about the same topic or skill but unless we agree on what that skill really means we will not be effective working together as coaches. For example, is passing simply moving the ball from point A to point B with proper technique or does passing also include the weight of the pass or maybe also the intention to move the attack forward as quickly as possible to score? If definitions are different development suffers. We as coaches, players, and even parents need to understand what it really means for a goalkeeper to be good with the ball at his or her feet.
Not every goalkeeper can be as good with their feet as Ederson Moraes. As Manchester City’s number one goalkeeper, he certainly is one of the best in the world with the ball at his feet. He was even quoted last year during a fourfourtwo interview as saying he could play in the midfield for Man City and “manage the challenge.” His extraordinary ability to distribute is clearly an asset to his team. Not only is he a professional, he is playing at the highest level in arguably the best league in the world. So the question remains, how good does a goalkeeper need to be with the ball at their feet? How good is good enough? What is the minimum standard of competency for a goalkeeper in today’s game?
At Drive Goalkeeping we instill in our players an understanding of what being good with the ball at their feet really means. We define and describe this as a goalkeeper being able to:
Pass and receive the ball at game speed to teammates to help their team maintain possession.
Play a ball down field to help alleviate pressure from the opposing team or get in behind the other team’s defense to create scoring opportunities.
Position themselves on the field during play to allow for opportunities to play with the ball at their feet.
To simply say a goalkeeper is good with their feet or that a goalkeeper needs to be better with their feet is doing a disservice to the players we aim to develop. Playing with the ball at our feet as a goalkeeper is more than just passing, receiving and ball striking, it is about understanding and reading the game.
In today’s game these skill sets are critical and we must define what it is we are actually working on before we can put the work in to help develop our goalkeepers.