A volleyball coach from the Devon area of England once posted on Facebook while watching a soccer match. She had just watched the Manchester United goalkeeper face a shot. She observed that he was in motion when at the time of the shot. Not only that, he was off the ground.

I’ve thought about this myself numerous times while watching soccer matches. In coaching defense to volleyball players, we want them stopped at ball contact. We want them balanced. We want their weight forward to allow for reaction in any direction. At least they must be ready to move in the direction of their primary responsibility.

If a defender is still moving they will at a minimum struggle to get a ball which goes anywhere other than their direction of motion. If a defender is off the ground at hitter contact, then necessarily they have to wait that fraction of a second until they get back in touch with the floor/ground before they can push off in the direction of the ball. A flat-footed defender, or one with their weight on their heels, won’t be able to get any ball not hit directly at them.

Goalkeeping in soccer is very much like defending in volleyball from that perspective. Yes, there are differences. A keeper should be still and balanced on ball contact when they anticipate a shot, though. As with volleyball, the positioning should happen in advance. And yet I see professional keepers in top competitions regularly fail in this regard.

Maybe we volleyball coaches can hire ourselves out to professional soccer clubs to help sort out their goalkeepers. We can probably make more than coaching our sport. 🙂

By the way, as in volleyball, stopping the other team from scoring isn’t the only consideration when making a save.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

    3 replies to "Should volleyball coaches train goalkeepers?"

    • Kelly Daniels

      I’m not a soccer/football fan to say the least and really don’t watch the sport. Yet, in your description of how volleyball defenders should play defense it ‘spot on’! Couldn’t have said this any better! Great Job!!!

      • John Forman

        Thanks Kelly. I had the opportunity to work under two very good technical defense coaches when I was a DI assistant. Ironically, one of them was a former MB. 🙂

    • Al Keough

      I crossed over to field Hockey goal keeping after many years of volleyball. Lots of crossovers from reaction time to anticipation and decision making. Love all sports but these 2 are the best participation sports I have enjoyed the most

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