Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Goalkeeper

It would be safe to say the loneliest people on the field of play would be the goalkeepers. After all, for them there are no mistakes only those misjudgements which result in a goal. Research shows between the FIFA World Cups of 1982 and 1998 75% of penalties were converted and that figures increased in 1998 to 80%. This world cup would record a lower percentage but the odds still favour the penalty taker. Studies indicate the goalkeeper needs to anticipate the direction of the ball before the attacker kicks it. The adidas Jubulani TM, can travel up to 85 mph, which does not give the give the goalkeeper much time. Again research would support training makes little or no difference to a player's perceptual anticipation. This would appear to be consistent with the thought people are born goalkeepers and not developed from the general pack. Few players move from an outpost position to become a goalkeeper in their career, whereas some goalkeepers do make credible conversions. Many goalkeepers come from a family line of goalkeepers, which may account for both physical aptitude and perceptual intuitiveness. The physical requirements of a goalkeeper are mobility and quickness, flexibility and agility, quick reaction speed with a high level of physical fitness, strength and stamina. A good goalkeeper needs a high pain threshold because of the injuries associated with vigorously defending the goal. In the relative few published works on goalkeepers there appears to be a high association with temporal and spacial occlusion and their ability to react quickly to block and control the oncoming cannon ball, then redirect to other areas on the field. All within a very short span of time. Generally goalkeepers fall into two personality types, those who are extrovert and outgoing or those who are quiet and unassuming. Grade A goalkeepers have extraordinary physical strength, some thick set whereas others are lean and mean. One other distinguishing feature of a goalkeeper is they need to want to be hit by the ball. This is often the most difficult fear to overcome. A good goalkeeper reads the game and can switch defence to attack with a well-placed kick to a waiting striker. The keeper sees the complete field of play and requires to communicate with teammates. Under these circumstances his/her voice can be heard around the ground. Confidence and optimism are important characteristics as these are infectious and help teammates raise their play. Goalkeepers undergo extra training and are coached separately from the rest of the squad; few professionals enjoy the physical effort of training and prefer to play. This can frustrate the keepers. Also many clubs retain second and third goalkeepers on the squad and this can add to the frustration of the individuals because they cannot get a match but have to stay in tiptop condition as understudies. Some goalkeepers will drop a level to play regularly. This may be explained in part by the belief no training schedule can match game experience. Experienced keepers make fewer mistakes because they learn from them and this accounts for older players appearing as first choice in high level competition. Goalkeeper by their very nature are risk takers and will temp oncoming attackers to aim for empty space in their goals, before springing into action to close down the opportunity. A good keeper will have a range of skills, which are not too predictable for the opposition. Mastery of these does result in mistakes and experience is the most highly valued asset of a goalkeeper. Throughout the duration of a game, keepers are only as good as their defence. A mediocre keeper can look brilliant when his teammates raise their game and vice versa. It is often harsh to judge a keeper's performance in a vacuum.

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