This article was written by Sean Connors, Global Goalkeeping Director
Every year, tryouts bring out emotion for players, parents, coaches and clubs. Excitement! Fear! Anxiety! All parties involved are heightened to the importance of tryouts.
Goalkeepers are a unique position to the sport, and with that also have unique requirements when it comes to tryouts! To gain some insight I asked Head Coaches the following question:
As a head coach, what do you look for from a goalkeeper during a tryout? How do you select a GK?
“I think first is what they show they CAN do right now. Then what you think they are CAPABLE of in the future. And for me their ‘presence’, how they carry themselves, how their teammates respond to them AND how their opponents respond to them.”
~ Arby Busey, Head Coach: Seattle Pacific University Women’s Soccer ~
“Because of the way we want to play, we put a high priority on a goalkeeper’s ability to build from the back so we look for goalkeepers that are comfortable on the ball, have a wide range of passing, and are comfortable executing under pressure. We look for guys that have a command of the box and communicate. Guys who are leaders and organize their teammates. Ultimately, goalkeepers are always judged on their ability to keep the ball out of the goal so that will always be an important piece of what we look for – Does he save the ones he should save consistently? Can he come up with a big save when the team needs it?”
~ Kevin Sakuda, Head Coach: Seattle Pacific University Men’s Soccer ~
“If I had the perfect scenario then I would prefer an athletic and strong goalkeeper, able to react and reach the edges of the goal with great reaction speed. Willing to dominate the box in the air and remain patient and big while confronting 1v1 situations“~ Arian Hoxha, NTD Rush Soccer ~
A goalkeeper -continues Arian- “should be willing to dominate the box in the air and remain patient and big while confronting 1v1 situations. Must be comfortable with both feet and able to remain calm while playing out from pressure. Able to distribute from restarts and in the flow of play and able to start counters safely. Obviously understand how to set up for free kicks and all other restarts. Finally, become part of the game and help the defenders with information and caution them about undetected movement from opponents”
“As quickly as possible I put them in big goals in a 5v5 setting. Here, I look for all the attributes needed, confidence, ration, moving on to the next play, reading of the play. Not much can be hidden during this scenario.”~ Tim Schulz, CEO Rush Soccer ~
As a coach, go into your tryout with a clear understanding of the needs and player profile your team requires of the goalkeeper. Of course the GK needs to keep the ball out of the goal, but what else does your team require? What are the non-negotiables for your team?
As a player, focus on what you can control during the tryout. You may or may not get a lot of action on the goal. Some shots may not be saveable. But the GK can always control how they communicate and interact with the team. Focus on being clean in possession and making good decisions as often as possible.
When evaluating a goalkeeper, use the game! Goalkeepers can trick head coaches in evaluation if they only base the decision off, of a GK training session. Sometimes GKs have great hands and footwork, but when placed in a pressure situation wilt. Use the game to see how they can protect the goal, communicate, distribute, and handle pressure!