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.