Being A Successful Goalkeeper: The Art Of Goalkeeping
Dan Gaspar is a world-class goalkeeping coach. Literally. Gaspar has coached all over the world and developed goalkeepers for three National Teams.
Born in the USA in a small town in Connecticut, Dan Gaspar has coached on the collegiate DI level as well as professionally with experience as a Head Coach in the USL and as an Assistant Coach in the MLS. For most people, this would be an end of an impressive resume but for this Portuguese American coach, this is just the beginning.
Helping nations develop their goalkeepers has been an avocation for Gaspar who has trained national goalkeepers for three FIFA World Cups.
In 2011, Gaspar became the assistant and goalkeeping coach for Iran’s national team, alongside head coach Carlos Queiroz and assistant coach Omid Namazi. Time Magazine‘s article “The American Soccer Coach on Iran’s Bench” reflects on Gaspar positive nature to turn challenges into advantages and commitment to unity. “Our guiding principle has always been team above the individual,” says Gaspar.
Prior to helping Iran prepare for the World Cup, Gaspar was Portugal’s National Team Goalkeeper Coach when the country went to South Africa in 2010, and also worked with developing their National Youth teams as well as working with the First Team. Before working with the Portuguese, Gaspar was also South Africa’s National Team’s Technical Staff Consultant.
In Portugal, Gaspar was also the goalkeeper coach of Sporting Lisbon, SL Benfica and FC Porto.
Recognized as a leader in goalkeeping development and education, Gaspar’s innovative methodology has been applied all over the world. As the founder of Star Goalkeeper Academy in America, Gaspar lends his talents to developing tomorrow’s professionals at his summer camp exclusively for goalkeepers.
Goalkeepers are the last line of
defense. The unsung heroes of the pitch.
While forwards score goals and get their names in the headlines, goalkeepers only appear in the spotlight when they make an incredible, amazing save.
Goalkeepers have to better playing their position than field players because they are the last line of
Here is the first part of SoccerToday’s news series on Being A Successful Goalkeeper.
SoccerToday Interview with Dan Gaspar
Diane Scavuzzo: What does it take to be a successful goalkeeper? What are the most important traits?
Dan Gaspar: For goalkeepers, there are four critical traits for success. These important attributes are:
How To Be A Successful Goalkeeper: The Important Technical Aspects
Goalkeepers must be simple, safe and secure. If the goalkeeper saves what their supposed to save, they’ll have a good career.
To reach this goal, a successful goalkeeper must have technical shaping which is
Correct technique is gained through repetition.
Goalkeeper must be supple like a soccer net.
The body must shape and receive the ball and not be rigid like a wall. The ball is the money and the body is the wallet. The idea is to collect the money and put into the wallet.
Goalkeepers must absorb and capture the ball, not fight with it.
There is a real need to teach the technical aspects of the art of goalkeeping at the entry development stages. If you catch a goalkeeper late, and they have developed poor technical habits, it becomes very challenging to re-program them.
Proper technical habits are developed through repetition. To change a poor technical habit takes many more repetitions.
Diane Scavuzzo: Are we developing great technical goalkeepers today?
Dan Gaspar: I am concerned the Art of Catching is disappearing.
I want to make a personal appeal to all goalkeeper coaches to produce catchers of the ball.
One-touch goalkeepers. Meaning they touch the ball once and secure it.
Currently, the emphasis is on blocking which is turning goalkeepers into walls, instead of developing them to learn how to hold onto the ball whenever possible.
When the ball is in the hands of the goalkeeper they are the best player in the world. Better than Ronaldo and Messi.
No one has more control of the ball than when the goalkeeper has terminated the save and is in possession of the ball. My sense is that the fear of making a mistake is so great that instead of controlling the ball, many goalkeepers are now taught to deflect, which creates rebounds and potential goal scoring opportunities.
It’s like kicking the ball off a brick wall. The wall never catches the ball. Goalkeepers must develop beyond the stage of being just shot blockers to becoming shot terminators. They must be able stop the scoring threat and finish the save.
Why is it in American football, receivers are drilled to catch the ball thrown at high speeds. In American football, the players manage to catch the football — while knowing they are under pressure and are likely to be crushed moments after they get their hands on the ball?
This comes down to training, concentration and repetition — we must raise the standards of control
Goalkeepers need to catch hundreds, if not thousands of balls a day!
How to Practice on Your Own: Goalkeepers strike the ball against a wall until you strike it as has hard as you can and manage to catch and hold onto it. Then progress to a tree instead of the flat wall — this will help develop your confidence.
Goalkeepers should deflate their entire body to catch the ball. Embrace the magic object. Goalkeepers win the psychological battle with the field players when they manage to hold onto the ball.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are the important physical aspects of a successfully goalkeeper?
Dan Gaspar: Goalkeepers need to be strong, with powerfully quick reactions and explosive movements.
The bottom line is that goalkeepers must be in excellent physcial condition.
How To Be A Successful Goalkeeper: The Important Physical Aspects
Today’s modern goalkeeper is typically one of the best athletes on the team.
Gone are the days of the past when a coach would put the least athletic player in goal, the position now demands goalkeepers to be outstanding athletes.
The ability to assess, jump, catch, throw, kick, put yourself in front of players and soccer balls hit at you with speed requires flexibility and courage.
How To Be A Successful Goalkeeper: The Important Psyhcological Aspects
Goalkeepers must love being in front of the goal and show their passion for this
To be a successful goalkeeper, he or she must control their emotions, demonstrating stability and calm in the midst of chaos infront of the net.
And, it is imperative that goalkeepers have the mental capacity to cope with mistakes. One of the greatest attributes of a successful goalkeeper is his or her understanding the gift of failure by learning from it and growing.
How To Be A Successful Goalkeeper: The Important Tactical Aspects
Goalkeepers should be a complete student of the game. It’s important that the goalkeeper also trains on the pitch as a field player. This allows the goalkeeper to develop a better sense and perspective of the game.
This is a critical process of mastering the when, how and why.
A Comprehensive Guide to the Important Tactical Aspects of a Successful Goalkeeper in Part II
Diane Scavuzzo: How can a young goalkeeper know if he’s got it?
Dan Gaspar: The need to be the 2%.
98% of the good athletes show up. You can see them on the field — they have all the right gear. This is the first step but, to become the best, you can be you need to do more. Especially if you want to be a goalkeeper.
The 2% the winners and champions show up like the rest but they bring more to the game. They bring their brain.
These are the players who are eager to learn and absorb everything — Not only do they show up and bring their brain but they also bring their heart. They love and are passionate about what they do.
When I see a goalkeeper bring their body, brain and soul to training, that’s the goalkeeper I want to invest in.
Their growth will be off the charts. We need to remember that success is doing the best you can with the tools you have and accepting the results.
Their performance is the best judge. The game itself is the best goalkeeper coach.
Want to read more? DAN GASPAR ON HOW TO BE A GREAT GOALKEEPER – PART II
For more information, please visit the SGA website.