Memphis Goalkeeper Training

Training Philosophy

If you are a new goalkeeper, remember that your number 1 priority is to master the fundamentals of goalkeeping first. Practice the basics over and over until they become natural. When you can perform the techniques without thinking you will have confidence in your ability. A lack of confidence or a breakdown in composure will almost always result in a bad performance by the goalkeeper, possibly at a crucial time when your team needs you most.

Principles of Goalkeeping

There are several principles of goalkeeping, all of which are designed to control the ball and define the role of a goalkeeper in a game. These principles can and do vary among goalkeeper coaches but they are all similar to the eight (8) principles listed below.


The principles can be summarized as the 5 ĎCís and 3 ĎAís of goalkeeping:


5 'C's + 3 'A's = Consistency 











Catching the ball is the most basic skill for all goalkeepers to learn. It is the first skill to be taught because if a goalkeeper does not have the correct hand control or if a ball is dropped, opposition pressure will be applied to the defense resulting in goals.

It is, therefore, critical that a goalkeeper has good habits when catching a ball and can control the ball once the catch is made.


Correct body posture, body balance, and hand positioning are all important and crucial to give the goalkeeper the best opportunity to catch the ball.


Control of the ball from all angles and heights is a key principle for a goalkeeper to master. Without controlling the ball from a shot, or a corner, or a free kick, or any other situation that causes the ball to enter the 18-yard area, the goalkeeper is immediately under pressure to protect not only the goal but also the defense.


Command of the situation immediately after a catch or save is made and control of the ball has been accomplished will determine the next move for the team. This is where a goalkeeper becomes a key part of the defense. Once the goalkeeper has command of the 18-yard area he/she can slow the game down, take stock of the situation, and determine the best move to turn defense into attack.


It is critical at this point not to panic or make a mistake by rushing the next play. Turning defense into attack takes composure, a visual inspection of the whole field to see where your team mates are located, and to determine whether a throw out or a kick (punt) is the best option. But be sure that what you do next offers the best possible advantage for your team and, at the same time, reduces the chances of a turnover.


Communication between you as a goalkeeper and your team is of utmost importance once you have taken command of the situation and are ready to move the ball into an attack position. Donít assume your team knows what you are thinking. If you do, I guarantee a turnover will happen. Visually check where your teammates are located and using verbal communication or hand signals, communicate and instruct your defense or midfield to where you want to throw or kick the ball. If you have to, be prepared to tell your defense to pass the ball back to you if a throw or a kick-out from you puts them under pressure.


Coordination of the defense, midfield, and wingers is one of the most important tasks that a goalkeeper must perform. The goalkeeper is in the unique position of seeing the whole field and therefore can see open spaces, attacking formation, attacking tactics, and the reactions of the defense and midfield to penetrations from the opponents.


A goalkeeper should never assume defenders can see 360 degrees around them. In reality, a defender who is under pressure can only see what is in front of them so it is your responsibility to tell the defender of imminent danger. You may have to verbally move the defender in order to protect the spaces to the side and behind that may be exploited.


Agility is the ability to perform saves that require turning of your body in unusual positions, such as saving a shot destined for the top corner. A goalkeeper must be flexible in body motion and have the ability to leap horizontally and vertically to make saves and stops that might otherwise be destined for the back of the goal.


For agility, think of how a cat can turn its body in midair when it is falling from a height. Think of a goalkeeper as a cat.


Angles are very important to understand and execute. The correct use of angles reduces the available space in the goal from its maximum 8x24 feet (if you stand on the goal line in the middle of the goal) to almost 0. This is achieved by anticipating the run of the attacker through the defense and coming out at the correct angle to minimize the amount of space available to score.


Anticipation is the glue that binds all the individual goalkeeper techniques together. Anticipation includes the ability to time your move, sometimes in a split second. Anticipation, by default, assumes confidence in your own abilities. A lack of confidence will destroy your anticipatory skills first. Then the domino effect takes place and other techniques will be destroyed. Anticipation also includes the usually unmentioned emotion called composure. At all times, a goalkeeper must be composed.


All goalkeepers, especially when you have reached the point where you have decided to be a goalkeeper in high school and in college, must strive to be consistent in both technique and execution of techniques. First and foremost, master the basics.

How a goalkeeper reacts to adverse situations, mistakes, and disappointments will bear directly on how all the other seven techniques mesh together. Composure is the benchmark by which a goalkeepers emotional and mental strength is judged. DO NOT underestimate the importance of confidence and composure to a goalkeepers performance.