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Goalkeeper Tips

Behind the scene with College Coaches: Goalkeepers,  want to know what colleges look for?  Tips for success:

What do college coaches really look for?  How do the college coaches identify players?  What are the key tips for recruiting?  SN goes behind the scenes and asks  college coaches what they look for.  Ryan Hopkins, assistant coach/goal keeper coach at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo holds his USSF “A” license, a Master's Degree from Concordia University-Irvine in Athletic Administration and answers the questions everyone wants to know...if they are a goalie.

As another National Signing Day has come and passed us by, I thought it would be a good time to discuss some qualities college coaches look for when recruiting a goalkeeper.

Hopefully this will give some insight to all you aspiring goalies out there as we move towards National Signing Day 2012!

The first thing that I look for when recruiting a goalkeeper is their technical ability. The technical ability of goalkeeper can be broken down into 5 areas.

1. Catching- How well does the goalkeeper hold shots and prevent rebounds?

SoccerNation FC Dallas Goalie

FC Dallas goalie Kevin Hartman

Being ready for anything that comes your way.

2. Footwork- Does the goalkeeper have quick, light feet that allows them to move quickly around their goal and cover their entire area?

3. Shot-Stopping- How well does the goalkeeper make saves and ultimately make good decisions on catching or deflecting shots away. Also, does the goalkeeper do a good job controlling their rebounds so as not to give up any second chance opportunities.

4. Handling of Crosses- Is the goalkeeper comfortable coming out on crossed balls and does he make good decisions on when to catch and when to punch balls?

5.Distribution- Does the keeper have good feet and can handle back passes to help the team keep possession? Which in the modern game is an absolute must. Can the keeper make quick accurate throws to start the counter attack? Is the goalkeeper able to control their goal kicks and punts to give his teammates an opportunity to win those balls?

The next attribute I look for in a keeper is their insight into the game or their tactical knowledge. One of the most important jobs of a goalkeeper is to maintain a high level of communication with their back line and throughout the team. The keeper must be able to see the entire picture of what is going on, on the field and then get their teammates in the right spots. We talk quite a bit defensively at Cal Poly about shot prevention which requires a massive amount of communication and understanding of the game from the goalkeeper to eliminate shots before they even happen.

The third quality I look for in a keeper is their personality. I really look for goalies that are first and foremost confident in themselves. I also like goalkeepers that are extremely competitive and hate to lose. As talked about in the previous section you also need to be a vocal leader in a non-demeaning way to inspire confidence in your teammates and to get the most out of them.

The final characteristic I look for in a goalkeeper is their physical ability. I like for my goalkeepers to be agile and very quick. It is also very imperative that you are explosive as a keeper to cover all parts of the goal. Hand-eye coordination and fast reflexes are also great qualities to possess.

Hopefully this has given all you keepers out there some ideas on what I look for when I am evaluating a goalkeeper. Good luck to all of you with your college search and feel free to contact me with any questions or comments that you might have.



Cal Poly SoccerRyan Hopkins is in his third season as an assistant coach at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. Hopkins had spent 5 years before that at NAIA powerhouse Concordia University-Irvine and at one of the nation's elite youth soccer clubs, the Irvine Strikers.

Hopkins was a two-time NAIA All-American as a goalkeeper at Concordia University-Irvine and was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 2010. He currently holds his USSF “A” License and has a Master's Degree from Concordia University-Irvine in Athletic Administration.

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