According to FIFA’s Big Count Survey, 265 million people worldwide are actively playing soccer. In one of the world’s most popular leagues, The English Premier League, there are only 500 players. Take a second to think about many of those players are goalies – not a lot.
Being a goalkeeper means you're a different type of player. At times, they practice aside from the rest of the team, they have their own goalie coach, and the expectations are different than that of a field player. Among all differences, there’s a common objective between every ambitious player: They all want to get noticed.
But how do you stand out as a goalkeeper? What are coaches looking for? What qualities should you have?
Philadelphia Union goalkeeper and Jamaican men’s national team captain, Andre Blake, said being a goalkeeper is about being consistent, persistent, fearless and mentally strong.
“You need short term memory,” said Blake. “The next play is always the most important play. The great goalkeepers will limit how many mistakes they make. Although there will be mistakes, they can either make you or break you. The best goalkeepers also face their fears and bounce right back after a mistake. Finally, you have to try and have fun and enjoy the game.”
Former USL Cup finalist and Western Conference Champion, Zac Lubin, goalkeeper for the Phoenix Rising (USL), said a good goalkeeper is dominant while in the air, is calm during chaotic moments, is a student of the game, and has good feet and shot stopping abilities. Lubin also said the negative attributes of a goalie include having a weak mentality, explosive anger, and relying purely on athleticism.
“Coaches are mostly looking for calm, vocal and good decision-making goalkeepers,” said Lubin.
Among all the success he's had thus far, Lubin has gone through struggles throughout his career.
“There are times where I can’t make a big save,” said Lubin. “Even when I've been very successful, I've struggled with negativity and the mental game. How I bounce back is by going back to the basics. I make sure my technique is tidy, meditate, and work on doing the little things consistently every day.”
“If you’re a goalkeeper trying to break into the next level,” said Lubin, “hammer down your technique. Without it, you’ll be inconsistent, and you’re bound to make errors. Be a student of the game. This means watch film of yourself and learn from it. Also, get as much experience in games as possible because all the training in the world cannot replace in-game experiences.”