People often claim that in order to be a goalkeeper, an individual has to have a screw loose and in truth, it is easy to understand this opinion. A goalkeeper often has to put their body on the line in order to prevent the opposition from scoring a goal. We often have to dive head first at the feet of on-coming strikers, throw ourselves in front of a ball which is being struck from yards away not to mention throwing ourselves around the goal with little regard for how we land, but crazy? No. Goalkeeping is a skill, one which takes years of hard work and dedication to carry out effectively.

The first characteristic which is essential for anyone who wants to take up the art of goalkeeping is bravery. Without this trait, it is impossible for an individual to even consider goalkeeping at a good level.

Goalkeeper boot to face

As the image shows, goalkeepers often have to put their bodies in uncomfortable places and there is a chance of getting hurt. Top goalkeepers do not give this a second thought and a keeper’s level of bravery has a huge impact on how far they make it in the game.

Communication is another trait which is hugely important for a keeper. Being a goalkeeper, you are the last line of defence. From our position, we have a better view of the game than anyone else on the pitch. As a result, it is essential that the goalkeeper is constantly talking to his team, telling the other players where they need to be and where the danger is coming from. Without good communication, an outstanding goalkeeper becomes average.

In addition to the above, speed is something which is essential for one to become a goalkeeper. When I say speed, I am not referring to how fast an individual can cover 100metres, but how fast they can move their feet. A keeper cannot reach their top corner by diving from the centre of their goal. Instead, they must take as many small steps as possible, as quickly as possible to cover as much ground as they can whilst giving themselves momentum to dive as far across the goal as possible. This all has to be done after the ball has left the foot of the striker which gives the keeper just seconds to cover as much ground as possible. Without speed, a goalkeeper will never get across his goal in time to make a save.

The fourth trait of a goalkeeper which I will touch on today is reactions. Without good reaction time, a keeper will never play at a high level. Be it a strike from 20 yards which takes a deflection on its way to goal or a header from two yards (as in the picture above), a goalkeeper has to react quickly to get enough on the ball to keep it out of the goal. Sometimes goalkeepers make saves which spectators deem impossible, and to the average person this may be true, but they make these saves due to the hard work and dedication they put in daily on the training field.