So, you’ve signed up for an open trial at a club and you’re wondering what you can do as a goalkeeper to stand out and impress the scouts!
First things first, there is no getting away from it – they will be looking (at least initially) for a goalkeeper that meets their vision of goalkeeping physique. I’m aware of a Premiership Academy actually developing a goalkeeper purely based on their physique and athletic ‘heritage’ from parents.
Physique is something that you may not have complete control over in terms of your height, but you can still control if you are in shape or not. Goalkeepers in the modern game need to be just as fit – if not fitter than outfield players to stay at the top of their game week in and week out, so start looking after yourself!
But it’s unlikely you will have time to dramatically change your physique before a trial, so what else can you do to stand out from an appearance perspective?
Well, you can look professional and tidy, you don’t need to have the top brand equipment, but your boots and gloves should be clean and you should have all the appropriate equipment including shin pads. Find out what footwear and kit you will need – make sure it’s suitable for the weather and the type of pitch you will be working on – grass, artificial turf or hard indoor flooring.
Height aside, what else are coaches and scouts looking for from a goalkeeper? The first thing to remember is that often an open trial is initially just one training session / match, so the amount of work you need to do can be vastly different between trials. Regardless of the session, to be successful it’s your job to make sure you show them what you can do!
Coaches in the past have been keen to find a goalkeeper who could kick well, and in the past this meant being able to lump the ball the length of the pitch on to the lanky strikers head to create goal scoring opportunities (read: mayhem).
Nowadays, being able to kick the ball the length of a football pitch isn’t enough for a keeper, you need to have a huge range of distribution utilising long balls to start counter-attacks, quick throws and most importantly being comfortable receiving the ball at your feet and being an extra outfielder.
This is something you can usually showcase in any game or session and there are still unfortunately a lot of goalkeepers who can’t kick well and there are many more who aren’t comfortable in possession, so make sure you show off your full range – it’s a very quick way to stand out against other keepers!
If kicking isn’t one of your strengths, get working on it straight away! Whether it’s in time for your trials or not, it will greatly improve your goalkeeping regardless!
Another key tool in a goalkeepers’ arsenal, being able to communicate well with your team mates will greatly improve your teams’ defensive performance. After all, you can see the whole pitch and everything that is going on right in front of your eyes so you’re in the perfect position to command your defence and alert them to danger.
I’ve heard many keepers make the excuse of not knowing their team mates as a reason for not being vocal during trials, believe me when I tell you – this is absolute nonsense!
Take a few seconds before the game to find out the names of your back four and talk to them throughout the game, be loud, confident and commanding and you will stand out even more. The coaches know you don’t know these players, so it’s even more impressive when you instantly display confident and strong communication in the first session.
Not good with names? Use the numbers on the back of their shirt. No numbers? Shout their position and then ask them to remind you their name at the next opportunity.
This isn’t a guide to communication, but remember – you don’t need to talk constantly, just give short, sharp, important bits of information to your team mates that they can do something with.
Finally, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that communication is about swearing and screaming at your defence for making mistakes, your job here is to help them perform better which in turn reduces the oppositions chance of scoring.
Work Ethic / Personality
A football team is like a giant living organism, and coaches are aware of how a bad apple can run the way a club performs over the course of the season. They want positive, committed, hard-working players in their squad who are prepared to battle for positions but work as a collective to achieve the clubs’ goals.
You might only have one session to display who you are, make sure it’s a positive image – this means not sulking or moaning when things go wrong, putting your all into every drill and session, helping other team mates throughout and supporting them.
So, at some point, the coach or scout will also want to judge your actual goalkeeping ability – we’re talking shot stopping and handling here as well as things like dealing with crosses, one on ones etc.
This should be the stuff you’re already great at, these are the core parts of traditionally being a goalkeeper and should be the things you are keen to showcase.
Remember though, you might not get the chance to show off your ability within all of these areas and may only have one chance to show your ability in for example dealing with a corner. The key thing to remember is that in a situation like this, one mistake can be hugely magnified – so it’s about being clean and ‘perfect’ in whatever chances you do get to show your ability.
Overall, I’ve always been a firm believer in relaxing and enjoying the sessions to ensure I perform my best – if you can do this too, you won’t go far wrong!