Goalkeeper development in the women’s game

Women’s soccer has come on in leaps and bounds over the last few decades. It has gone from a niche sport to one that regularly has large attendances and increasing numbers of viewers on TV. It’s not just the exposure of the sport that has seen increases, either, it’s the quality of play as well. A lot of this is due to increased investment at grassroots levels, which means that female players are gaining the ability to play the game on similar surfaces and be trained by similar coaches to male players. However, there is one area that hasn’t really been focused on to the same degree and that is goalkeepers. We’ve taken a close look at how goalkeeper development can be improved within the women’s game.

In the pro game

Dedicated goalkeeper coaches tend to be available in the professional women’s game. This means that once players turn pro, they have high-class coaching available to them, which in turn allows them to develop their skills to a higher level. This is why the professional game is growing at such a fast rate, since professional coaches are enabling female players to develop to higher standards than in the past. It’s also why you’re able to find women’s games at online sports betting sites, when you were not usually able to do so previously.

The issue is that professional coaching isn’t normally offered to female goalkeepers until they have gone pro. So, during the formative years of a female player’s career, they don’t have access to dedicated coaching. This means that by the time they make it to the pro game, they are well behind where their male equivalent would have been. It’s not necessarily that male goalkeepers are inherently better, it’s the standard of teaching that they have available to them.

For example, take two 21-year-old goalkeepers, one male and one female. The male goalkeeper displays talent at a young age and is picked up by an academy at the age of 8. They then get specialist goalkeeper coaching all the way until they are 21. They also get to play against the best in the country and sometimes across the world, on a regular basis, further improving their skills.

The female goalkeeper may also be talented, and be picked up at an early age. However, even if they are lucky enough to be at an academy that offered specialist goalkeeper coaching, they wouldn’t be getting the coaching from the same quality of coach as the male player. This means that during their most important developmental years, they would be getting inferior coaching. Since playing as a goalkeeper is a very specialist position, coaching is perhaps more important than for any other position on the pitch. The net result is that by the age of 21, the male goalkeeper has had significantly better coaching in this position for 13 years more than the female goalkeeper.

Obviously, the physical aspects also play a part, such as men generally being taller, but the coaching aspect also has a lot to do with the disparity in ability.

How to change this

There are a number of ways to change this. The first option, which may not be possible at international level, is something that lots of teams could implement at club level. Basically, the teams should look to combine their male and female goalkeeper coaching. This is not possible with outfield players due to the difference in tactics that coaches may want to implement and there being too many players. But these issues aren’t there with goalkeepers.

By combining male and female goalkeeper coaching, it will allow the development of female goalkeepers to significantly increase. This is just another step on the road to equality in the game. It’s not the only way to change things, though, although this second idea is a little bit of a controversial one.

Because men tend to be taller and stronger than women, another way to make goalkeeping better in the women’s game would be to slightly decrease the size of the goals. Male goalkeepers are normally at least 6’3 and often stand above 6’5. This is all the more common in the modern game. The standard goals are just too big for people who are less than six feet tall. As women very rarely grow to these heights, it would make sense to shrink the goals slightly in order to compensate for this physical issue that cannot be solved with investment or better quality coaching.

©2022 WOMEN'S SOCCER UNITED. All rights reserved.

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?