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Oct 2011
16:02 Comments (3)
Different countries, different styles

Professional Football

Xavi Valero

Style and efficiency don’t always go hand in hand and we often hear interesting debates regarding how convenient it is to prioritise one or the other when, as coaches, we take on both the complexity of the learning process and the need for keepers to perform. If we look at football in different countries and observe in detail the solutions that each goalkeeper uses to face similar game situations we can find various common denominators which influence and model the style of each keeper. However, the existence of these characteristics doesn’t always mean that there is an explicit consensus over this subject. It concerns the inherent form in which we understand the role of the goalkeeper within the game of football in each country. Although it is true that in the last few years there have been a growing number of specialised publications and organisational initiatives that are contributing to the creation of a differentiated identity of the goal keeper.

For those that enjoy analysing the skills and strategies that keepers use to resolve a certain game situation, the diversity of styles enriches our point of view and broadens our views. Across football pitches in England we see keepers with great physical strength and reliability in goal. In Spain we find keepers who participate and are more implicated in the collective game. Italy centres its attention to forming keepers with an elegant and fine technique. Many keepers in South America have shown us how to be accurate in launching counterattacks and how to be unbeatable in 1 v 1 situations. What we see on the pitch reflects years of intense work, different ideas over the responsibility which the keeper must assume and diverse methodological tendencies. This last point deserves great attention given its consequences on the learning process. Additionally, I would say that even today it surprises me the general isolation of the keeper in training sessions.

Imitation is always the main form of learning for young goalkeepers who try to replicate exactly what they see in professionals. At the same time as we accompany this innate process, we as coaches have the opportunity and responsibility to give continuity to the good and improve what is not useful and inefficient.

Football and its protagonists are always changing. Identifying such changes in time is key to continuous improvement. The globalisation of the football market and media has facilitated a multicultural form of teaching and learning which is leading to the formation of more complete goalkeepers capable of giving reliable responses to the demands of a game which each time is becoming quicker and more unpredictable. Each country with its style and its football offers us the possibility of bettering ourselves and forming goalkeepers who are each time more complete and efficient.

18/10/11 at 21:18:10 #1
Michael Perry
i think english culture inadvertantly affects its style, for example,a nation influenced by abroad culture more than any other, even our 'traditional' tea is foreign. Our desire for physical agression dates back to its creation as mob football. A need for a outlet and sadly results in the detremental ''in my day you could break a leg and it wouldn't be a freekick, now you can't sneeze'' Just as the nation is a multicultural society today, it is reflected in football bringing the best players from over sea, yet crutually the culture of it's physicality, speed and exitement have enhanced it. Wheras other nations for their own cultural reasons have gone differant directions, such as spain, with a strong and correct emphesis on technique, yet the leagues attractiveness is some what let down by a lack of overall competition
19/10/11 at 01:08:48 #2
Hi rafa looks like you put too much of a complex question out as nobodys answered it,your i didnt realise your English was so good.I will just say this you say Reina is the worlds best goalkeeper and I agree,he has a lot of qualities not just one,VanDer Saar of Man Utd was great at crosses and that was it because of his height and he was suited to premiership footbal.Reinas agility.shot stopping skills,organistion skills,total professionalism were he is looking to release the ball as an attacking defender,like against Fulham when his assist allowed Torres to score a late winner in my opinion would put Reina in the top category because he has more than one attribute to his game.To be a great you need to be able to adapt to different situations and not just be able to go through the motions in your own comfortable league.Craig L


Hi, as you can notice, this article has been written for Xavi Valero, excellent goalkeeping coach, not for me. Thanks.
30/10/11 at 22:50:23 #3
Lee Mooney
Any goalkeeper's contribution is essentially a collection of discrete measurable events. Different cultures/styles shape a unique learning experience that's best suited to that environment. This should be clearly observable in the 'event' data.

So, we can assume that there is a discrete list of 'globally' measurable events relating to the goalkeeper role (as there must be for any other role on the field) when you collect all of the measurable events together.

My question is this:

Which measurable events contribute the most to the success of a team over the course of a season?



The number of measurable events depends on the detail of the analysis we make and of the context in which we want to apply our conclusions. In my opinion, goalkeepers have to face a high number of complex situations during the games that, obviously, have to be identified, catalogued and transformed into training contents in order to improve the response of our goalkeepers. The fact is that the way a team develops its ideas about the game directly affects the role of the goalkeeper within the team. This circumstance can take us to a situation in which we prioritize the real demands of the game in our training sessions, forgetting about many other aspects that are also crucial for the complete development of the goalkeepers. This specialization in training can be understood and justified in professional football, where the high demands of the competitions narrows the time for specific work, but has to be necessarily included when working with young goalkeepers.

Which events are more important? Well, it will always depend on the goalkeeper's profile, the team style and demands, the competitive context and especially how we, as coaches, understand the role of the goalkeeper.