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Goalkeeper Coaching and Essential Resources

General Guideline for Coaching Goalkeepers by Age

U4-U6 Goalkeepers

No specific goalkeepers at this age. All players should learn the basic techniques of ball handling at different heights and rolling with one hand on the ground. Footwork is introduced including shuffling to get in line with the ball. Introduce diving from a kneeling position.

U6-U8 Goalkeepers

All players take turns in goal. Continue development of ball handling and basic diving technique. Introduce simple communication, such as “Keeper” and “Away.” Develop correct body shape and introduce the concept of the keeper in regards to positioning on the field.

U9/10 Goalkeepers

Your objective for the season should include preparing every player as a potential future goalkeeper. As a coach, you can recommend extra training to any player showing a strong interest in the position. Every player should be exploring and developing their skills as a goalkeeper. During any team session where goalkeepers are included, ensure that all players are rotating through as goalkeeper in those practice sessions.

At this age, goalkeepers should be building on their handling technique. This should now include pinning the ball and parrying on diving saves. Additionally, the goalkeeper should start learning how to handle 1 v 1 situations. Goalkeepers should continue to work on staying in the ball line as the ball moves from side to side and keeping an appropriate distance with their back line as the ball moves up and down the field. Goalkeepers should continue to develop their basic communication and should start to give specific directions to the defenders when the team is out of possession.

If a player does not appear ready to play keeper in a match, don't make them do it. But it should be your goal during the season to get every player ready to play in goal during a game. Just as every player should be playing the goalkeeper position, they must be playing in the field too. As best you can, make sure each of your goalkeepers gets a chance to be a part of the game.

U11/U12 Goalkeepers

Several players will start to show promise as a keeper and a desire to play the position. While we want to foster this interest, we still want to find time for them to play on the field when possible. To achieve this, your team could have two to three keepers on the team. Each keeper should play at least a full half once they are placed in goal.

Keepers should work on developing their skills at the position through goalkeeper specific training when available throughout the year. They will continue to build on the techniques that were introduced in the younger ages, while introducing some tactical training as well. Goalkeepers at this age will learn what to do when a ball is played across the box on the ground versus in the air. How to handle through balls into the box and 1 v 1 situations. The goalkeepers will also work on using the top hand when going for a high dive and using the bottom hand when parrying a low ball. They will also start to learn the footwork used for tipping, which will also require a top hand save.

Though your goalkeepers should be getting goalkeeper specific instruction away from the team, there are still aspects of the game that must be developed within the team environment.

U13+ Goalkeepers

By this age, most teams have a dedicated goalkeeper who primarily, or even exclusively, plays in the goal. There will be teams that have multiple goalkeepers on the roster as well. One of the problems for a backup keeper is that they can end up sitting on the bench waiting for the starter to miss a game. The goal is to not have a backup keeper that is exclusively a backup keeper, you can have two starting keepers that rotate, or have a backup keeper that is also primarily a field player.

As with all players in these age groups they need to be attending goalkeeper specific training. The goalkeepers will continue to develop their techniques from the previous ages while introducing new tactical principles, such as how to deal with crosses. Goalkeepers will also improve their technique for distributing the ball, both with their feet and from the hand. Goalkeepers will now have a stronger understanding of their position and of the game. This will allow them to give more specific communication to their team when in and out of possession.

Despite the amount of goalkeeper specific training players at this age will receive, there will still be aspects of the game that cannot be developed away from their team. They will need to continue to be used in their goalkeeper role during team trainings to get more repetitions outside of the matches.



 Goalkeeper_In_PossessionImages provided by the FA of England with their permission.  Use the link below to reach the FA's home page.

The website for the English Football Association, Emirates FA Cup and England football team (