Grassroots Goalkeeping

Grassroots Goalkeeping

Corin Evans is ex goalkeeper coach at Wycombe Wanderers Centre of Excellence and Brentford Academy. He is currently head of goalkeeping at AJD Football Coaching and you can contact him at and on twitter @CorinEvans

I’m Corin Evans and my role is head of goalkeeping at AJD Football Coaching, a company that offers academy level coaching to grass roots clubs and players. I have previously been the goalkeeper Coach at Wycombe Wanderers Centre of excellence and also at Brentford academy.

Things you’ll learn in this article;

  • Corin’s view on football academy system
  • Tips on how to improve as a goalkeeper
  • What coaches look for when signing grassroot players

I’ve seen many keepers I’ve coached make it in the game such as Matt Ingram at QPR, but I’ve also seen a lot of young lads not make the grade. Over the years there’s been many keepers with raw talent come into the academy structure and be given only a handful of sessions before they are told they aren’t good enough. These can be young lads who are just 9 years old?! Its crazy. Part of the problem is that Goalkeepers playing for their local club, get little to no coaching.

Local clubs have no direction or input, and these self-taught keepers are then expected to compete with academy players when on trial who have been coached for 1, 2 maybe even 3 years. It’s for this reason I joined the team at AJD so I can give talented keepers a better start when they get their opportunity with a pro club.

Coaches at grass roots level often look for a keeper to be solid and dependable. To have good handling and catch more than they parry. However the game has changed massively in recent years and no longer allows for this.

The keeper who catches everything has gone. Because of this, we as coaches have had to adapt and grow with the game if we want our goalkeeper to be match effective. Handling is and always will be a fundamental part of goalkeeping. But, how many times do you see a goalkeeper catch the ball during a game these days? It’s not as often as they parry, punch or block. So this is where I focus a lot on the game related phase of my sessions. Close encounters, dealing with 1v 1s and cut backs.

I believe that a young keeper needs to be coached certain aspects of goalkeeping early but this has to be in moderation.

We expect our goalkeepers to still be a footballer as well as a keeper. Not only do we expect them to be able to play out from the back and be comfortable with the ball at their feet, we expect them to learn the game and also specialise. They have to take on board just as much, if not more information as outfielders.

I focus my sessions on certain areas. Areas I believe give young goalkeepers core skills that will allow them to become an all-round strong keeper.

-Handling techniques and collapse dives

-Angles and positioning

-Distribution from feet and hands

-Blocks saves/ 1v1s/ cut backs

-Ability, footwork and mobility

Each keeper will be different to the next, each one will be stronger in some areas than others. One might be technically very strong and read the game well. Another may be extremely brave and deal with 1 on 1s better. It’s very difficult to judge one against another.

I believe there are 2 attributes young goalkeepers will need to be successful.

1 – They need to love being a keeper and have that desire and passion to win in the battle against the striker. The desire to keep the ball out of their net.

2 – The willingness to listen and want to learn.

If a keeper has both of these then we have a foundation to build on. It’s when I see this that I know I can work with them and coach them.

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