Goalkeeper Decision-Making: Making the Correct Decision

By Rob Parker @goaliecoach00

Throughout every game, your goalkeeper needs to make decision. Unlike your outfielder players, a goalkeeper’s mistake in their decision making can and most likely will directly lead to a goal. With an outfielders mistake, perhaps the goalkeeper or another member of their team will bail them out. Due to the keepers positioning on the field, this is relatively less likely to occur. As the last line of defence, the goalkeeper must make split second decisions and stick to those decisions.

As a coach it is imperative that we put out keepers into game like situations in training and reinforce how decisions can be made. It is also important when a mistake is made, the keeper is counselled so a learning experience may occur. Without reinforcement, the keeper will not learn from the mistake.

When a keeper is assess the game situation they would watch for a few cues that perhaps might make their decision-making process easier.

They include:

-The pace and service of the ball

-The positioning and pace of their opponent

-The positioning and pace of their team

-Field and weather conditions

When the keeper makes their decision, right or wrong, they must stick to it. I cannot count the number of times that I have seen keepers make a decision and halfway through the process attempt to change their decision resulting in either mis-communication and/or mis-understandings with their teammates. Communication is also vital. An example of this is the keeper calling for the ball on a cross and then staying on their line. The defenders expect the keeper to attack the ball and therefore have positioned themselves to help hold off oncoming attackers, not trying to clear the ball. Decisions must be made quickly, communicated clearly and action must be followed through with.

This is an aspect of goalkeeping that is difficult perfect solely upon replication. Instead it must be learned through experience in game-like situations and scenarios.

Decision Making on Crosses


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