In today’s modern soccer, the goalkeeper’s position is “to say the least” critical for success. Not essentially because of the amount of saves or the number of clean sheets, but also when it comes to starting to play from behind. It is impossible for any soccer team to reach it’s goal if it does not have a quality goalkeeper.
Soccer clubs are willing to pull out big money to get their hands on the best goalkeepers in the world. Both Chelsea and Liverpool in the past 3 years have signed keepers considered the most expensive in soccer history.
In the US, at a youth club level we still have goalkeepers that are exclusively shot-stoppers and most not even goal-kick takers, thus because we have thousands of coaches that deliver very poor information to goalkeepers. This harms the team overall.
The expectations put on a goalkeeper are huge, so, the principal question is: how much does a head coach knows about the goalkeeper role? Are they really getting everything from what a goalkeeper has to offer to the team?
The situation is not the same in all youth leagues. Normally, MLS Next and some ECNL clubs have more resources, so the role of goalkeeper coaches carries more responsibility among the club structure and they are more considered than in the clubs laying in the local leagues, where the situation is nearly always far from standard.
In many local youth soccer clubs, it is not even known if they have a goalkeeper coach. This is a situation that needs change at all levels and the introduction of a club GK coach should be mandatory.
Goalkeeper coaches can bring great value to a clubs coaching staff, the keeper coach can actually educate the younger and less experienced field coaches in relation to specific training situations, but also at game resolution level.
The field/head coach should trust his goalkeeper coach. He should give him his confidence and the power to make decisions. But this is only possible if the head coach is 100% behind him. I’ve personally noticed a great harmony between GK trainers and head coaches in Europe. I can’t say the same here in the US.
The goalkeeper coach very often needs a couple (or more) of players from the defense and another two from the midfield to train different real-game-set situations and if the head coach allows it, then it will lead to success for the whole structure of the team.
GK coaches must take steps forward by taking pinpointed initiatives so that their responsibility is more profound and their opinion more respected and collected, to the point that the head coach will come to him to point out the overall expectations for working with the keepers. The head coaches must give to GK coaches the responsibility to prove themselves. This however is very rare in youth soccer.