What are Soccer College Coaches looking for in a Goalkeeper

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I have been looking through a number of goalkeeping recruitment videos that I have made for some of my students. Who follows my blog post articles will remember that last week I talked about what makes a good goalkeeper recruitment video and how to make them yourself, but what is it that a college goalkeeper coach, assistant coach and head coach are all looking for from prospective new 12 grader goalkeepers?

If you want to be on a college level team, you have to be really good to do the job of your position. Why? Well, out 98 high school goalkeepers that dream to play in college, only one gets to play in the NCAA, NAIA or the NJCAA. For soccer goalies, the most obvious job is to keep the ball out of the goal (DUH!). The goalkeeper should show the ability to keep the ball out of the net from a variety of different game set scenarios. Shot stopping has a number of sub-topics which need to be shown, including ball handling and what kind of ball handling for each kind of shot. Low shots, high shots, close range saves, angled cross etc are the perfect examples. They will also be looking for a goalkeeper can be brave “NOT FEARLESS” but brave by breaking away at feet with minimum contact with the opponent, but also collecting a variety of different crosses in secure contour mode, tip-overs and the use of your fists if needed. If a goalkeeper is on top of all of that, you will gain a lot of attention.

The veteran and expert college coaches are not expecting goalkeepers to be the finished product, if that was the case you’d already been selected by an MLS team. What is the difference between showing you have not yet reached the top of your potential and actually not being that much of a keeper? Consistency!! If the goalie has proved that they can keep the ball out of the goal as mentioned above, then the coach without any doubt will ask for full game video. Then what? Well, the coaches will be looking to see if there are any repetitive mistakes or bad positioning or even lack of communication all of them raise a red flag.

Red Flags:
Poorly taken goal kicks, punts, distance wise and accuracy.
If any height concerns affect collection of crosses or ability to command the box.
Stepping back on high shots.
Lack of bravery in the 6 yard box.
Goalkeeper not breaking away.
Slapping the ball on hard close shots.
Using the wrong hand on angled-high shots.
Using both hands when only one should be put to use.

One very important factor that players and parents leave out of recruitment videos is keeper distribution,and guess what? it happens to be one of the most important factors that college coaches are looking for in potential goalkeepers. In college soccer, where the game is FAST, a lot faster than youth soccer club or High School soccer and quality service on behalf of the goalie is required. There is no buts or ifs here, all goalkeepers need to be consistent with quality service.

If you dream to wear a 1, 0 or 00 soccer jersey in college, but you are a goalkeeper that can’t achieve the above required service (and a lot more) on a consistent basis for real game set scenarios mentioned in this article, then at your next college ID camp I can bet you all you want that the other camper-goalkeepers, the goalkeeping coach and the head coach will get very frustrated.

In conclusion, college soccer coaches are looking for goalkeepers who are technically well prepared, have close to perfect positioning and split-second decision making abilities, are tough and brave, have good presence, team leaders, very vocal and leadership qualities and most of all are them that are able to evaluate their mistakes and move on to the next situation.

Rick Zucchi
Zee Goalkeeper Academy
Port Orange, Florida

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