Analysing your in-game play

It is important to analyse any game you play; allowing you to evaluate key areas of weakness that can be improved, as well as working out your strengths. Whilst a bad game is best forgotten, you can look back on your performance to learn from your mistakes and not commit them in the future.

As a goalkeeper intent on making it big, you should always consider how well you played in the game. You may think you’ve done your best, but there’s always something you could have done better, or a play you could have prevented. Even if you played a ‘blinding’ game and kept a clean sheet, there are still things that you can work on! Seeing every game as an opportunity to improve, instead of being already being ‘perfect’ will help you greatly in developing your own game in order to succeed as best you can.


Remember: goalkeeping is a journey of develop, and by the time you reach your peak, you will be more of a finished product, in your overall understanding of the game and therefore ability to control the play, compared to when you first started in ‘between the sticks’.



Weaknesses are basically areas of the game that still need to be worked on.

If you are aware , then you need to work twice as hard to get rid of those bad habits. Not all of our potential weaknesses are down to skills and abilities though; a poor mental approach to the game could leave the team in disarray as the goalkeeper ‘folds’ under the pressure.


Below are some examples:


  • Ability to make great acrobatic saves, but uncontrolled; giving away easy rebounds

  • Poor angle play letting in ‘soft’ goals

  • Lack of aggression leading to easy break away opportunities

  • Poor recovery, meaning the goalkeeper is out of the play for too long

  • Gives up easily (in a tough game), therefore putting his team at a disadvantage

  • Failure to control rebounds – puts them straight back out to the player, or does not chase after the ball to kick clear

  • Does not dominate the D; fails to properly control the play, unable to read the game and over commits too easily in situations, leaving open shooting space

  • Fails to shout out instructions or call out plays, for the defence to control the play, leading to scoring opportunities



A strong goalkeeper is one who is capable of winning games, and has the confidence to back it up. It takes hard work to develop into a great shot stopper, as the examples show:


  • Good rebound control preventing secondary scoring chances

  • Confident in intercepting passes to prevent scoring opportunities

  • Organises the defence well, so that they see few shots

  • Strong reflexes and reads the play well; making good saves when called upon in penalty corners

  • Doesn’t give the opposition the upper hand by not showing emotion (keeps up the appearance of being unbeatable, rather than showing weakness)


What you need to improve on

By analysing your mistakes in the game, and what you should have done or could have done better to reduce the number of shots you faced, or improper technique, in using the wrong save for the situation, or poor technique resulting in the opposition gaining possession of the ball, like a weak clearance. Looking back at the game will help you work out what needs improving; practising a different save may be a better way of controlling the rebound. Discuss with your coach what you need to work on, and always look to improve yourself: if you want to be the best of the best, you’ll have to work for it.


Keeping notes

A great idea is to keep a record of your games, using a paper flip book or storing documents on a computer. After each game I like to evaluate my performance in order too isolate weaknesses and see what needs working order to successfully win tight games where the all-important save is decisive, so I don’t make the same mistake twice. Writing down what I did well, what goals I let in; when they occurred (i.e. if late in the game as a result of reduced concentration), how I could have actually stopped them going in, and what I did wrong, I can analyse key areas of my own game. This way I can keep track of weaknesses and trouble spot areas within the game, like set-plays (if they are a recurring problem), so I don’t commit them again in the next game, as well as staying aware of my strengths.


Although it is good to put a bad game behind you and focus on the next, it is more important to work out what needs working on and prevent it from happening again. This way, you will ultimately improve and play better, to your full potential.

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