Goalkeepers have always trained in specific ways, differentiated from the rest of the team. It seems like a long time ago when we could see the manager or his assistant dedicating just half an hour extra to the goalkeepers after training whilst the rest of the players stretched on the pitch. Yet the truth is that this has been quite common until recently. Not long ago I had the opportunity of having a coffee with Bert Trautmann, the legendary Manchester City goalkeeper. He told me how back in the 1950s a large part of his training sessions were dedicated to improving his handling technique, improving how to attack the ball in the air and how to deal with penetrating passes, improving his distribution and playing as a sweeper behind the defence, etc…..how did he do this? Out of his own accord, with a team mate who would volunteer or the manager or simply with whoever was available. Specific training for goalkeepers already existed, like it has always existed, albeit marginally with lack of structure. However, Trautmann was a complete goalkeeper, capable of controlling the game. Nowadays, everyone talks about what the ´modern goalkeeper´ should be like, but it´s good to look back into the past to realise that we haven´t invented many new things...
Bert Trautmann (1923), 508 games with Manchester City
As mentioned above, those more or less unstructured goalkeeping training sessions have not been organised until recently. The figure of the goalkeeping coach, as part of a club’s staff or as part of a technical team is pretty recent if we bear in mind that football is a centenary sport and highly professional. Nowadays it is difficult to find goalkeepers that don´t receive specific training from an early age, although we are still far from being able to offer sufficient high quality teaching that would allow us to develop the potential of those children that decide to become goalkeepers. National and international football organisations are increasingly developing programs with the objective of creating a training curriculum that is capable of producing qualified goalkeeping coaches with professional recognition equal to other football professionals. There are a considerable number of valuable coaching opportunities from personal initiatives to goalkeeping coaches associations that contribute to this end, although we are not going to refer to these in this article. Instead, we will focus on how various European Football Federations structure goalkeeping coaches’ training.
Through The Football Association (The FA), England has been one of the first countries to consolidate a well structured curriculum that begins from initial levels right up to professional level. Initial courses are delivered in different counties so many coaches can access them. They are short intensive courses with high methodological and practical content. Courses include:
- The FA Goalkeeping A Licence.
- The FA Goalkeeping B Licence.
- The FA Goalkeeping Level 2 Certificate.
- The FA Goalkeeping Level 1 Certificate.
The RFEF (Spanish Football Federation) Foundation organises this year the ‘V Curso de Especialista en Entrenamiento de Porteros de Futbol’ (V Course on Goalkeeping Coaching). This is the main course offered in Spain and always has a high attendance. It takes place on a yearly basis in the Football Training Grounds of the Spanish Federation in Madrid and has a duration of 4 months, attending 2 days a month. Obtaining this qualification, along with obtaining the Coaching Uefa B Licence allows access to the ‘Federative Licence in Goalkeeping Coaching’.
The Federazione Italiana di Gioco Calcio (FIGC) has organised since 2010 a one week course in their headquarters of Coverciano. They have announced recently a three week course addressed to Academies’ goalkeeping coaches. Also, the Associazione di Preparatori di Portieri di Calcio (APPORT), directed by Claudio Rapacioli, has over the last few years organised a high profile goalkeeping coaching course that has been able to bring in some of the most well known goalkeeping coaches. During the time we spent coaching in Inter Milan I noted there wasn’t much specific content on goalkeeping from the FIGC but, on the other hand there was a wide range of practical initiatives from different goalkeeping coaches and associations.
The Association Suisse de Football (ASF) has developed over the last years a coaching program similar to that in England. It includes:
- Level 3: Professional Level.
- Level 2: Academy level.
- Level 1: Beginners Level.
Summary of the above as follows:
|England (The FA)||Spain (RFEF)||Italy (FIGC)||Switzerland (ASF)|
|Goalkeeping A Licence||Course on Goalkeeping Coaching||National Course||Level 3: Professional|
|Goalkeeping B Licence||Youth Coaching Course||Level 2: Youth Coaching|
|Goalkeeping Level 2||Level 1: Beginners|
|Goalkeeping Level 1|
In turn, FIFA has launched, at the end of 2011, a coaching program addressed to goalkeeping coaches at various levels. The program is still a pilot; it comprises of DVDs, manuals and seminars. The program should be completed in 2012 and could serve as a future reference for worldwide initiatives.
This is no more than a brief review indicating that specific structured training for goalkeepers was a necessity and that bit by bit programs have been developed. There is still much to do but in my opinion we are advancing in the right direction.
My son goes to Neil Ebbrell who is excellent but still think it is an element of coaching which is generally overlooked at our level with many coaches focussing on outfield players at the expense of the specialist position of keeper.
Hi Michael, I completely agree with you. In too many occasions the goalkeeper is just a complement to the team’s training sessions. Much more work needs to be done on goalkeepers from a young age and it is not a question of what methodology one wants to follow to do it, it is a matter of giving the right importance to everyone within the game in order to improve the whole game.
Hi Darron, I could name here many top goalkeeping coaches who have been professional goalkeepers in the past and others who have just played goalkeepers at a young age. The knowledge that as a coach you transmit to the goalkeepers may come from your own experience or from your study and analysis of the game and what surrounds it. Putting them both together can be ideal, though I personally think that experience doesn’t necessarily mean learning and that in some occasions it may act as a limiting factor to extend our knowledge. The main point is how firmly you believe that you can help the goalkeepers of any age to improve.
Hi Michael, it is clear that Germany has had a long tradition of top class goalkeepers; one of them was Bert Trautmann, as written in the article. Now Germany has a bright future with great goalkeepers performing at a high level. The work developed to achieve this has always been excellent, as it has been in many other countries.
Thanks Xavi for your much un-noticed work under RAFA (but RAFA knows yor worth!)
There are a lot of positives and negatives in my opinion. I believe that your tactical nous and general superior knowledge of the game could bring great advances to the England national team. But then I also see that the media was never enamoured with you as Liverpool boss, and could well be set on undermining you from the start if you were appointed.
What are your thoughts?
Hello Jeezon, not too much to say, I will keep analysing the game and ready for a good project. Thanks anyway for your support.
Not really,but you can access to websites just for keepers.
I was also very impressed with that keeper who munich bought from FC Schalke last season, not been following him much this season though.
Hart is doing really well, Neuer is also a great keeper, still I like Pepe because has more experience but the three of them are fantastic keepers.
Thanks for your question. As I have said before, I think it would not be professional for me to comment on Liverpool's current squad. There are many great players who would be candidates for places in a world team.
My name is Pedro Soares and I am from Portugal. I made a goalkeeping course in Portugal and I am looking forward to go abroad to learm more and do more goalkeeping courses.
Do you think that you can help saying me where i can get good informations about it.
With the best regards
Hello Pedro, We wrote and article about goalkeepers in the blog (Xavi Valero wrote it) and you will find links in our webpage. Thanks.