Up Close with Vancouver Whitecaps FC Goalkeeper Coach Marius Røvde
Marius Rovde, Head Goalkeeper Coach Vancouver Whitecaps FC MLS and Professional Programs Gives The Inside Scoop on Being A World Class Goalie.
Goalies are often the unsung heroes of the pitch. Goalkeepers are the final defense and the commander of the back of the field. SoccerNation News takes great pride in celebrating the most important and often uncelebrated position on the soccer field.
When "Knut Marius Røvde" signed on as goalkeeper coach with Vancouver Whitecaps FC in 2011, it was another step along a long and distinquished soccer journey that began in Trondheim, Norway, over 40 years ago. Røvde first stepped on the pitch at age five and joined a local club at age eight. When he was eleven he traded in the rush of outfield play for the challenge of being the team’s last line of defense. Røvde went on to play at the highest level in three different countries, including four Premier League clubs in Norway, a First Division club in England and one Scottish Premier League club.
Internationally Røvde took part in Europa Cup and Champions League matches and played against FC Barcelona in Barcelona – a side he calls “the best team I have ever played against.” Røvde competed hard to work himself into the lineup on every club he has played with. He was a clear starter on three of the teams he played for. It was this appreciation of determination that Røvde brought with him when he made the transition to goalkeeper coach.
“I have trained with the ‘best’ goalkeeper coaches in the world and also met the worst,” Røvde explained, “and you actually learning something from the worst goalkeeper coaches as well, but that is just useful after your playing career. You take the best from the best and make it yours, and then be yourself and a close and trusted friend/mentor to your students if you want to be a goalkeeper coach.”
Røvde began his off-field experience with Norway’s Hønefoss Ballklubb from 1996 to 1998, and then coached the U16 squad at Greenock Morton FC in Scotland in 1999. After retiring from active play in 2006, Røvde began to focus more on coaching. From 2008 to 2011 he served as head goalkeeper coach for Joe Public FC in the Trinidad & Tobago Professional Football League and as Director of Goalkeepers for the Trinidad & Tobago Football Federation. In 2009 he added the role of goalkeeper coach with the Ontario Soccer Association (OSA) and the Durham Region Soccer Association (DRSA) in Oshawa, Ontario, to his plate, serving until 2011.
In Trinidad & Tobago Røvde worked with former Canada Women’s National Team head coach Even Pellerud. He was on the staff of the Trinidad & Tobago U17 Women’s National Team when the country hosted the 2010 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup and on the staff of the full national team for qualifying at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. In 2011 he also worked with the country’s U17 and U20 men’s teams at CONCACAF championships. Since joining the Whitecaps, the club has placed several goalkeepers on the Canada National Team squads at various levels.
Røvde was kind enough to share his insights with SoccerNation on the position of goalkeeper and what it takes to excel both as a player and as a coach for this key position.
Diane Scavuzzo: What did you like best about being a goalkeeper when you were playing?
Marius Røvde: I love the goalkeeper position because it’s a leading role and there is much more pressure. I also loved the fact that you get punished so hard for not being alert for 90 minutes and that your whole team relies on your performance!
Diane Scavuzzo: What does it take to be a good goalkeeper?
Marius Røvde: The best Goalkeepers will always be the athletes who have the most passion and hunger over time. Goalkeeping is a long distance run, and some don’t break through before they are 25 to 28 years old, but they still can have a 10-15 year career after that! Look at Marcus Hahnemann and Brad Friedl; they are both past 40 years and still playing at the highest level. So don't give up at 21 years of age because you haven't been identified yet. If you want it enough, you can make it.
You can't find a "typical" goalkeeper. Some of them are introverted and some are extroverted, but one thing they usually have in common is the moment of madness where they can find some bravery inside them and be very aggressive in a split second to do the big save into a striker’s feet or up in the top corner.
Diane Scavuzzo: You made the transition from goalkeeper to being a top goalkeeper coach. What helped you make that transition?
Marius Røvde: In my career I played with four clubs in the Norwegian Premier League as well as one each in the English and Scottish First Division. I was only a clear starter on three of the teams I've played for, but in every club I have competed myself into the team at one stage. I believe it's my determination and my character that have made me a top class goalkeeper coach at the highest level.
When you are used to fighting to get something, you learn to pay attention to the small details to make it. The small details are so important, especially for a goalkeeper. They can decide if a shot will be a goal or not.
Diane Scavuzzo: Tell us a little about what you have done since joining the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Marius Røvde: When I first came to Whitecaps FC two years ago, they had no goalkeepers on the Canadian National Teams. Now the club has the U15, U17, U20 and a first team goalkeeper. This year we will have six national Goalkeepers, and that is after two years. We now have two Canadian goalkeepers in the first team squad, and next year it is a big possibility that the number can be higher. So we have done something correct.
In Vancouver I am the one who is dictating all the goalkeeper sessions, and we go hard Monday and Tuesday, then take off Wednesday. Practice is sharp but fewer repetitions on Thursday, and Friday is more distribution and cross-balls. We still practice with the highest demands on quality, but with shorter sessions and fewer repetitions.
Our match warm up is always the same, some fast feet and some handling over cones. You want to find the feel-good rhythm and reduce stress. I talk calmly and come with two to three good pieces of advice for the game. Also, you don't want the outfield players to shoot on your goalkeeper on match day! Protect your keeper and back her or him up; let them feel you are there for them, regardless of their performance.
You are never a better goalkeeper coach then your own goalkeeper is playing; they are representing you as a coach!
Diane Scavuzzo: What else are you doing with the Whitecaps?
Marius Røvde: I have a colleague who is now coaching the youth with the same principles as I have, and he can see the development on what he is doing on a daily basis. Raegyn Hall is my most important associate for the success of our plans. He sees the kids daily and has to do the day-to-day training. I’m trying to get involved as often as I can with the youth, and I also bring them in to first team sessions as much as we can.
We changed our way of strength training for the young goalkeepers, and that has dramatically paid off. The goalkeepers are going more hard-core now in the weight room! We have a world-class strength and conditioning coach, Mike Young, and he has helped me to reinforce proper weightlifting for the U16, U17, U18 and first team goalkeepers. That has had a huge impact!
Diane Scavuzzo: What advice do you have for young goalkeepers who would like to become the best?
Marius Røvde: When I was young, I just loved the game and spent all my time after school with a ball playing or watching soccer "live." That is so important for the young players; they can't see enough soccer on TV and at live games. You will learn even more when you see live games, because you can see and hear the whole picture – things like the distance between defenders and goalkeepers and how alert the good goalkeepers are during the whole game.
The biggest hurdle for North American goalkeepers is the understanding of the game – when to come and when to stay back. There are so many coaches, academies and drills for the keepers, but there are so few teachers of the game.
As a young goalkeeper you have to learn the terminology of what a goalie should say, and you should often start a command with a name. For example you might say, “Andy left shoulder” or “Andy drop off.” If you talk to the whole defense as a unit, then of course you say “squeeze” or “drop.”
When you play games you should focus a lot on the distance between yourself and the defenders; we call it your starting position. If your starting position is too deep, you can be exposed for many 1v1 situations; if it’s too high you are exposed for a chip over your head from distance. So with the ball on the other half I would focus on staying around the 18 yard line, but also follow the play side to side.
You should always have one foot in front of the other so you are ready to run forward or retreat. When the ball is coming closer to the goal, you have to change to side by side feet in case of a shot. The game is about sensing the danger, and eliminating it when it occurs by sorting it out yourself or by communicating to your team.
You have to picture yourself as the assistant coach and basically coach your team on the field. At the same time you have to be alert and always ready to react on shots, crosses and through balls.
So the key word is multitasking during stressful conditions. After a game the best Goalkeepers are mentally drained and get almost an empty feeling. It is like leaving a fantastic concert after two hours and walking into an empty room – you can almost hear the silence.
You need to do something with soccer every day after you reach a certain age, say 14or 15. Then you can have a day off the field, but you should also do some mental training. Do visualization – picture yourself in situations and make the right decisions.
Close your eyes and smell and feel the wet grass and hear the referee’s whistle for that free kick you're about to save! Maybe it’s David Beckham who shoots, but that doesn't make it any harder – it's just a name. See the ball leave his foot and feel your feet moving sideways as you do a great spring to your left and push the ball out wide for a great save. Imagine 20,000 fans cheering your name.
That is how you can work every day. Walk through different situations and make the correct decisions.
Diane Scavuzzo: How hard should young goalkeepers practice at their craft?
Marius Røvde: You have to work with some intensity in your sessions, and 70% of your work should be pressure situations/drills that are game related. You do not want to end up being a great "drill goalkeeper" with no understanding of why you are doing the drills and how to act and react on the field.
Every repetition must be as sharp as you can deliver, don't drop balls and don't say “let’s start again since the first shot went thru my hands” on the first repetition in practice! There are no restarts in soccer! If you let the first repetition slip through your hands and into the net, it's 1-0 for the other team.
This sounds very strict, but it should also be fun. Think about your "self-talk" if you do something wrong; encourage yourself instead of beating yourself up!
Have a laugh and joke between and after the sessions, but for the 10-20 seconds you are working, you have to be at your sharpest all the time!
Do exercises with four to eight repetitions with your absolute best speed and quality and then rest, and then go again.
Goalkeeping is like a circus act – you have to get it perfect. Always look for the perfect session and the perfect game!
Diane Scavuzzo: What would you suggest for a player who does not have a great goalkeeper coach?
Marius Røvde: There are many coaches out there but not so many teachers of the game, so when you get older you have to study the game and help yourself.
You still have a great chance to make it even without the best goalkeeper coach. Somebody can give you repetitions, and that is what you need.
Repetitions are the same as experience, so doing something with quality thousands of times will give you great experience.
I tell players that goalkeeper is the only position on the field where you don't need talent to make it. It's hard work and dedication and respect for your own career plan that decides how far you can go.
For example, I keep on telling Simon Thomas, the young Canadian National goalkeeper, that nobody can deny him a great career if he has the same dedication and effect every time he practices. It doesn't matter if his session is in the gym or on the field; as long as he gives 100% every time it’s impossible not to get a chance! I might hold him back and the head coach might hold him back, but sooner rather than later he will be so good that nobody can hold him back.
So players need to keep that in mind every day. Make a bad day into a great day in training! You have to start to improve your core strength in an early age, do squats, burpees, pushups, etc. every day. You can do body strengthening exercises from the age of 10 to 12 years, that is no problem.
When you are 14 to 15 years old you should be looking for someplace where you can be guided through a weight lifting program. The correct technique is important when you are lifting weights, so make sure somebody is keeping an eye on you.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are your future plans as a coach?
Marius Røvde: I still have big ambitions for my coaching career, and I would like to be more involved with the National teams in Canada or the U.S. I have already been working with the U15, U17 and the U20 Canadian Goalkeepers in camps.
I also have coaching experience from World Cup and World Cup qualifiers and Gold Cup competitions. I may be one of the few goalkeeper coaches how have worked with both men and woman at that level.
I have also given talks in front of the FIFA Technical Committee about differences in coaching men and women. That was very interesting because many members there are former goalkeepers and loved to have a discussion about the topic.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do you have any final thoughts to share?
Marius Røvde: To be a good Goalkeeper you have to make every repetition count. You need the ability to turn a bad day to an excellent session. Always dig deeper
Follow Marius Rovde on Twitter @MariusRovde.
SoccerNation News special player spotlight chose Goalkeepers to highlight for Spring 2013 and this article is part of the Soccer Goalie Series.