Goalkeeping – An Age Old (Old Age) Perspective


I thought it would be interesting to pen a few personal thoughts on the union, the great and the good and how it appears through an “old mans eyes”

The noble art of keeping is changing as it ever has, each generation adapting, creating new skills, techniques and styles. This does not mean that everything has changed completely, although some goalkeeper coaches believe they are creating some new form of mystique art, like all skills it is the philosophy and the psyche that determine the outcome.

Physical preparation and drill practices enable the keeper to choose from a range of skills and deliver a result, choosing the correct skill in each circumstance separates the great goalkeepers from the good. Many of us have seen numerous keepers making great saves in practice but seemingly unable to produce on match-days. Like all sports it is the decision making that makes the difference and this will develop from the philosophy of the keeper, the coach and the team.

If the keepers role in the game is seen as “to stop the opposition scoring” then he ( and his team) will always struggle to over-achieve. As stated to young keepers ” what other position on the field is there, where the opposition deliberately try and hit /flick the ball in your direction”, so what are you going to do with it when arrives- be the first move in your own teams next attack. The Positive not the negative, where are your players to pass to, where can you deflect the ball that will in % terms be more likely to be retrieved by one of your players, and does your own team know where the ball is going to rebound to.

I have watched International keepers in practice, club and International matches and from the sidelines it appears that many keepers themselves do not know the options available to them they merely react -the negative .By just reacting they are not controlling the situation, in past generations this may have been described as dominating the D.

No I am not an old man who comes out with “in my day” sentiments, I have seen a number of keepers who have dominated the game at their time I just don’t see too many around to-day (perhaps I am just not watching so many games although I have watched the last four Olympics as a BBC commentator or private individual and watched a fair amount world Cup matches and English national League games).

The equipment is brilliant now and gets better year by year. Companies such as Obo have invested heavily in product and people development and set a fantastic philosophy around this unique position of “making Goalkeepers Great”

Too many keepers to-day seem to have fundamental faults or weaknesses – badly balanced, who collapse too easily and who consequently fail to dominate their own game, the D and subsequently the opposition. Who can change this the coaches not enough specialist keeper coaches, and team coaches not fully understanding how to integrate keepers into practices or drills that take a keeper and defence through 1st, 2nd and third phases. Keepers new and old have to help the coaches help themselves.

And so to the next “great keeper” whoever he or she may be, one with all the physical attributes and skills of some of our current keepers but with the knowledge and presence to dominate, that decision making ability that separates them from the rest.

I work in the world of Professional Rugby, by comparison “what am I rambling on about above” Dan Carter, where is the Goalkeeping Unions version of Dan.

I very much forward to watching the individual, the coach, the club and the country that embraces this simple philosophy  then again maybe this is just an old man rambling

Ian Taylor

Olympic Bronze medallist 1984
World Cup Silver medallist 1986
Olympic Gold medallist 1988

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