Goalkeepers in the modern game are now having to use their feet more and more. The profile of the goalkeeper is changing with the introduction of goalkeepers in the Premier League like Jordan Pickford, Claudio Bravo and Ederson have shown that there is even more emphasis on how keepers use their feet and distribute. So how do you work with keepers in the Foundation Phase to best prepare for this?

Firstly, integrating your goalkeepers into your sessions is something that you need to consider when planning and reviewing your session. Do you have them just working with a goalkeeper coach? Do they just stand in goal in your sessions? This is one of the biggest challenges for coaches that have the luxury of having someone that is specifically supporting goalkeepers at your club. Here are some considerations for you:

1. Goalkeeper Syllabus – look at how the goalkeeper syllabus links to your syllabus for your outfield players. For example, if you’re working on ‘Finishing’ you may want to get your goalkeepers working on Shot Stopping. Mirroring your syllabus to link to the goalkeeper syllabus is vitally important for the children as they will be able to contextualise the work they have done with the goalkeeper coach and apply it to your session.

2. Playing outfield – With the average of a PL debut for a GK being well into their twenties as well very few academies producing their own goalkeepers through the system it’s really important that we don’t specialise too early in this position. The more your Goalkeepers can play outfield in your sessions and get used to moving their feet and manipulating the ball the better they will become technically.

3. Outfielders in Goal – We have all seen it where you need an outfielder to goal and usually you have a group of children that extremely excited by the opportunity and others that hide and want to run away from the idea. Well, in the foundation phase with the emphasis being on development as per one of my previous blogs if a child is showing real interest for playing in goal, give them the chance! More often than not we find our best outfielders are often our best goalkeepers as they have a better base of FUNdamentals and excel across most sports. Are you brave enough as a coach to give this a go?

4. Don’t forget us! In fixtures in mini soccer it’s easy to forget the goalkeepers from your team talks and conversations about what system you are going to play. If you are playing a 5v5 game and start with a 2-2… who have you forgotten? The goalkeeper of course! Make sure you include them in your language when explaining your team and explain it as a 1-2-2… As I’m sure you know your goalkeepers in these small formats are far more active than what they will go onto be in 11 a side.

5. Pitch Geography – when planning your sessions if you want to link your sessions to the game look at how you can provide the goalkeepers with the same pictures that they will have on a match day. To do this, you may get them working within their area getting used to playing out from the back and dealing with cross and saving shots etc. The more you can link the pictures to the game that they will play on a Sunday the easier it will be for the goalkeepers to transfer their learning from training to a match day.