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Saturday

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January 2019

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COMMENTS

The Complete Soccer Goalkeeper by Tim Mulqueen

Written by , Posted in Reviews

4 Stars

Best for:
Goalies and Goalie Coaches (it’s a bit of a niche market, I’ll grant you).

In a nutshell:
US Men’s National Team Goalkeeper coach (he coached Tim Howard, yo) offers tips for training effective goalkeepers.

Worth quoting:
“The best way to stay on top of the game is by playing along in your head.”

Why I chose it:
I am a goalkeeper who rarely had any proper goalkeeper training. Whoops.

Review:
When I moved to London, I thought team sports — specifically soccer, or football as they call it here — might be a way to meet new people and be a bit social. I grew up playing club soccer, starting at six years old, and becoming a goalkeeper around 11 or 12. I’m very tall for a woman at 6’, and was already like 5’9” when I started high school, so coaches would see me and think ‘well, even if she isn’t good she’ll probably stop some shots by sheer luck thanks to her size.’

I played off an on after college, before joining a co-ed team about eight years ago. It was very casual, no coach, no training, just show up on Sundays. I eventually left, and hadn’t been active in goal for about two years when I googled ‘my neighborhood’ + ‘women’ + ‘football’ and found a club that was not only open to new members, but was actively seeking goalkeepers. Huzzah!

This club has over 30 players, has teams in three leagues, trains every week, and has a manager! A real manager who has played the sport. Unfortunately, however, he is not a goalkeeper coach, and that is a problem. Because, you see, I am not actually very good, despite my years of experience. It could partly be my age (I’ll be 39 this month), but I think it’s mostly I was just stuck in the back and told to try to stop the ball. No training, no technique, no real expectation of improvement. I did take it upon myself to pay for my own training for a couple of months maybe seven years ago, but that was expensive. I did learn something, but not enough. And now I’m playing on a team that is for fun but also – I want to improve. I want to get better!

Wait, this is meant to be a book review, not my personal history with soccer. My bad.

So, the book. I found the tips very helpful. It is full of drills that I’m going to show to my manager, to see if we can start doing some at training. It also has great descriptions of techniques, as well as pictures. But the best part, honestly? The author alternates between referring to men and women keepers. I’d love to get to a gender-neutral they at some point, but also outside of the US women just aren’t seen as soccer players (and inside the US they still make a shit-ton less than the men, when they are demonstrably way better at the sport). So to have the language — and the example pictures! — feature women? That was awesome.

As I mentioned up top, the target audience is extremely small, and people who don’t play are soccer are not going to find it interesting at all. I think it could be beneficial for some field players — especially defenders — to skim it to get a sense of what keepers go through and are thinking about on the field. But it’s best for coaches and goalkeepers, and I’ll be recommending it to them.

Keep it / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep it. And possible get a copy for our manager.

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