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Goalkeeper in Outfield Sessions

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Integrating the Goalkeeper in Outfield Sessions

Featuring Colorado Rapids & CRYSC Head Goalkeeping Coaches, Chris Sharpe & Jeff Oleck

Chris Sharpe has been an Assistant Coach since 2014, after having served as a player from 2008-2012. The Australian native has also been the Rapids Academy Director of Goalkeeping since 2008, working with Rapids youth goalkeepers of all ages, levels and abilities. 

Jeff Oleck has been the Associate Director of Goalkeeping since 2018 at Colorado Rapids Youth Soccer Club. Jeff began coaching right after his playing days at Valparaiso University came to an end. Additionally, Jeff has worked at the collegiate level for more than 10 years. 

In today’s modern game, it is extremely important for goalkeepers to not only be able to shot stop and prevent

goals, but to be involved in the attack with appropriate distribution with their hands and feet. Incorporating goalkeepers in team training sessions is an effective way to help young goalkeepers develop the necessary skills needed to succeed in their role. 

“Goalkeepers also need to develop their decision making when seeing the field, ‘the next pass’, going forward, and keeping possession.” 

Chris, Brett, and Brandyn led a session on how to incorporate goalkeepers into training. You can use goalkeepers in the following scenarios:

  • As neutral players, both through the middle or along (bumpers) the outside. 
  • Playing behind center-backs or a backline. 
  • Serving balls to start sequences or patterns. 

Chris always pointed out the importance of giving goalkeepers the reference points they use during games. For example, when possible try to place a goal behind them so they internalize where they should position themselves in relation to the goal. Goalkeepers also use the lines on the field as markers for their positioning, so when possible place goalkeepers in the six-yard box or the penalty area. 

In the second half of the session, Jeff discusses starting positions for goalkeepers. 

“Starting position is WHERE you stand.”

Goalkeepers are the first element of an attack and a build-out. Their starting positions should reflect the style of play the team puts forth. CRYSC proposes a style of play that emphasizes supporting players (connectors)  and a high tempo, so the goalkeeper is the first player that needs to put this in motion.

However, we should not forget that the goalkeeper’s primary responsibility is to defend the goal. Secondly, goalkeepers should defend the space behind the backline and deter vertical through balls. We should encourage goalkeepers to step outside of their comfort zone in terms of starting positions, but bearing in mind their responsibilities. 

Some variables to keep in mind when discussing starting positions:

  • Where is the ball?
  • The space behind the last defender
  • Who is in possession?
  • Direction and pace of the ball
  • Body shape of opposing player
  • Defensive pressure on the ball
  • Environment (eg. windy, wet surface, etc)
  • GK athletic ability

As with all coaching, it’s vital that we allow goalkeepers the opportunity to experience a game-like environment to develop the necessary skills to be successful.