The position of goalkeeper is extremely important in the sport, if not the most glamourous. They may not hog most of the limelight like a Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi or even Andrea Pirlo but the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Manuel Neuer and David de Gea are invaluable to their teams. A goalkeeper can make or break the game! Here are five must-haves for any individual looking to develop into a top class shot-stopper.
Having good hands mean having soft hands while collecting the ball and being strong when needing to punch the ball away. “Most of the shots taken are from close range. If your hands are soft in those situations, the wrist joints will receive the impact of the shot and the chances of injury are very high. As I’ve learnt myself in my career. In those cases, having strong hands is more important than soft hands,” Dhiman says.
A goalkeeper has to be a quick thinker and mover. One has to be able cover the box quickly and be quick with the decision making. Having quick reflexes can benefit greatly. “Quickness has to be there. If a goalkeeper is not quick then chances are he’d concede a goal. He has to make a quick decision in less than a second. His reflexes have to be very sharp,” Dhiman opines.
Being tall is advantageous for a goalkeeper as they can cover more ground both sideways and top of the goal. “The goal crossbar is around 8 feet high and the goalkeeper has to be around 5’10” to 5’11” on average. He should not be lower than that because that would be a problem for higher balls and he would concede more goals from the top,” Dhiman reasons.
A goalkeeper has to be tough and fearless in all situations, be it gathering the ball from an onrushing attacker or collecting it during a corner from a crowd of tall and strong players. “As far as I’m concerned a goalkeeper has to be very, very tough because on 50-50 chances, he runs the risk of injury if he is not physically strong enough. For goalkeepers especially, injuries aren’t good as there is always another goalkeeper sitting on the bench and waiting to go in. By the time the goalkeeper recovers from his injury, he may have lost his spot,” Dhiman says.
A goalkeeper has to show enough intelligence to understand how the game is going and guide the defenders accordingly. It’s important for a goalie to understand the importance of positioning and anticipation. “A goalkeeper needs a good presence of mind because once he collects the ball he needs to be ready to distribute the ball accordingly. If he is not present on the ground mentally then he would not be able to distribute it in the correct way and then the team won’t go ahead,” concludes Dhiman.