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According to many coaches, all excellent teams have excellent goalies.

“To be able to win you need to have a great keeper in soccer today. Simply, a good goalie is half of the team.”

Sir Alex Ferguson spoke those strong words after Manchester United won the Community Shield over its rival Chelsea in penalty kicks, because of the great performance by Manchester United keeper Edwin Van Der Sar.

From those words, from one of the best coaches that will ever teach this wonderful game, we can realize how important the position of goalkeeper is to a team.

In my opinion, the goalkeeper is the most responsible position in soccer. A goalie is the last person that stands between winning and losing. The only one that can make a difference with crucial saves for the benefit of the whole team.

But what goes into the development and selection of a goalie? Today, we will be able to learn at what age ranges goalkeepers are selected and what kind of abilities they need to have to be able to deserve the shirt with the magical No. 1 on the back.

Before getting into the specifics of goalkeeping, there must be a firm soccer foundation. According to soccer coaches and educated people from the field of sports, the best age for starting soccer is between the ages of 8 and 10. In this particular age range it is assumed that a child has already experienced physical activities such as running, jumping, climbing, or other early-age activities that are crucial for normal and healthy development of a young child.

While a child’s soccer training may have begun, the decision to play goalie can wait a few years. Goalkeepers should be selected between ages of 10 and 12. It is strongly recommended that children chosen for the goalkeeper position are educated in soccer the same as the rest of the players by the age of 10. This is necessary because in modern soccer, goalkeepers need to know how to play outfield as well. A great example is legendary goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert who was a captain of the Paraguay national team in the 2002 World Cup. During his career he played in more than 450 professional games, and scored more than 60 goals.

The modernized game of soccer demands goalkeepers who can play outfield and act as an additional defender when it is necessary. Based on this data it is necessary that coaches choose a goalkeeper among children that they are coaching by the age of 10. In this particular time the coach needs to make a decision and pick one or two children for the role of the goalkeeper on the team. Only those children need to be directed toward this role for the rest of their soccer career.

Most of the coaches in youth development are making a big mistake with random selection of the children for the spot between the posts. In this way they are developing a problem among the children who simply could not establish the sense of whether they belong on the field or in the goal.

Between the ages of 10 and 16 young goalkeepers need to be practicing only technical aspects of goalkeeper education. That education involves learning the proper techniques of catching, distributing, and handling of the ball. The next step is learning techniques of diving and jumping with a ball. All of those steps need to be repeated over and over again. This is crucial because only in this way are coaches able to properly educate a young keeper.

After the age of 16 all of this previous work needs to be continued with extra education in tactical aspects. In this way coaches are able to develop goalkeepers on a larger level and use their talent for the benefit of the whole team.

An above average goalkeeper needs to have talent for the position, but most of all a goalie needs to have love for the wonderful game of soccer. Great love that is mixed with another love toward hard work and constant improvement. Like any other position, goalkeepers need to work extremely hard to achieve perfection. This means extra practice and drill repetition.

While there are multiple defenders, midfielders and forwards on the field, there is always just one goalie. It is a position that requires great talent, sacrifice and work ethic if one wants to be a true Number 1.


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