The role of the goalkeeper in possession

The role of the goalkeeper in possession

In this blog, Dan Smith, Bristol City FC Women's first team goalkeeper coach, talks about the role of the goalkeeper in possession.

He looks at the role the goalkeeper can play when a team is in possession of the ball, and how important they can be in helping the team maintain possession. He also discusses how their role is ever adapting and changing. 

One thing we look for in our keepers at Bristol City is for them to be confident in executing a whole variety of passing techniques. Having different ‘tools’ in their arsenal will enable them to have a solution for almost every scenario they face. Deciding and executing the chosen technique is then extremely key – it is crucial that keepers understand how important their role really is. 
Also, if goalkeepers (GK) can play with confidence it will add an extra sense of security to the whole team. The team’s confidence will therefore increase knowing they can use an extra player in possession.  

The first thing goalkeepers can do is to ensure they take up effective positions to support the player with the ball. This will allow the player to pass the ball to the goalkeeper if needed. And it can specifically help defenders out of trouble if they are being pressed by the attackers.  
The goalkeeper may then be able to pass it to other teammates and start an attack.  The ability to play through opposing players/high press is something that we add extra value. It’s a high-risk high-reward maneuver but we constantly encourage our GKs to try the pass. If we are confident in our ability to split presses or break lines continuously then we can take numerous amounts of opposing players out of the game with just one pass. And we can turn defence into attack, in an instance.  
In turn, having a certain level of calmness under pressure is vital. Anyone can take a goal kick and ping it out to a full back, but it takes a certain type of mentality to remain calm under pressure and to continue sticking to the principles of our play - which is something that is extremely important to us and is heavily emphasised to our two goalkeepers Fran Bentley and Sophie Whitehouse. 
I believe one other important thing to note is that if a team is wanting to try and play football at every possible moment then they must ensure they have a goalkeeper that is extremely comfortable with the ball at his/her feet and can play around, through, into, onto and beyond the opposition. This again will add an extra dimension to your style of play because if you have a goalkeeper who can do all of the above then you will be one step ahead of everyone else that you play.   

In conclusion, it is essential our goalkeepers know their role when in possession so that they can play a massive part in the success that we have. Depending on the age groups we work with, success can be measured in results or performance. But nonetheless, having a goalkeeper who knows their role can breed a certain type of confidence across the whole team and bring success. There are of course so many more reasons as to why we need to be confident in possession, as well as many other tactical points to discuss to further understand the role. 
This is an exciting time to be a goalkeeper and I can’t wait to see how the position develops and how we develop with it. 

If you would like to ask any questions about goalkeeping then please comment below.  

Image credit - Martin Rose