Home » » Book Review: 'Scientific Approaches to Goalkeeping in Football' by Andy Elleray

Book Review: 'Scientific Approaches to Goalkeeping in Football' by Andy Elleray

Written By Justin on Thursday, July 11, 2013 | 12:40:00 AM

Go online and you can watch dozens, even hundreds, of goalkeeper training sessions, from clubs all over the world. This is a fantastic resource for coaches and keepers alike, but often you're seeing drills out of context. We don't know what has been happening in matches for these goalkeeper coaches to choose these specific drills. For a goalkeeper coach, merely copying these drills, no matter how advanced, may not be serving your goalkeepers well. 

In his book, Andy Elleray argues for a modern, scientific, holistic approach to training goalkeepers. He covers every conceivable aspect of the position, from psychology and biomechanics to Andy's professional specialty, video analysis, and a great deal more. There are also guest contributions from international goalkeeper coaches such as Daniel Pawlowski, Inaki Samaniego, and Glenn Robertson. And of course, Andy includes a large number of drills he has found effective for all the demands the modern game places on a goalkeeper.

What I like about the book is its emphasis on functional training to mimic and improve what the game demands of the keeper, using cold logic and quantifiable percentages - science, in other words. For example, Andy presents numbers from multiple sources showing that a goalkeeper's overwhelming involvement in a game involves distribution. Anywhere from 60% to 75% of a goalkeeper's 'interventions' involve collecting, clearing, and otherwise playing the ball with their feet. With this compelling evidence, we can see that as coaches, we need to make sure our keepers have the kind of training that makes them proficient and comfortable with the ball at their feet.

I was especially impressed with the wide variety of video analysis information Andy presents. Video is a tool I have only sparingly made use of in the past; this immediately changed upon reading Andy's book. Video is useful not only for the coach, of course, but for the player. Being able to film a session, or even just a few shots, on an iPad, and then immediately show them to the player, gives immediate, abiding feedback. You can tell a keeper a hundred times that their posture or set position is poor, but this is sometimes difficult for young goalkeepers to accept. If they see it on video one time, however, they'll be much more inclined to accept it both emotionally and intellectually.

There are too many powerful individual points for me to list even a fraction of them, but let me paraphrase one from Polish goalkeeper coach Daniel Pawlowski. He notes that we as coaches can set up cones or hurdles in a goalmouth and instruct our keepers to jump, slalom, and shuffle through them while making saves, and they may perform these tasks perfectly. But put them in the complex, dynamic environment of a match, and they will struggle. This is because a drill, no matter how involved, is essentially a simple situation, whereby the keeper 'follows the rules' set by the coach. In a game, he must react to an ever-changing environment, read situations, and make decisions. Typical goalkeeper drills do not prepare him for these tasks.

Want to know what does? Buy the book!

*Disclaimer: Andy's book was published by Bennion Kearny, the publisher of my book. That is not why I reviewed his book though; I read and agreed to review it before Bennion Kearny accepted my manuscript. This review has been greatly delayed because of the publication of my own book, and because I very nearly died of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (yes, that's a real thing) back in May! 


turnbuckle said...

Good to see you back! Sorry to hear about the fever, yikes!

Bought your book, and am most of the way through it. I am really enjoying it, and I can see a lot of myself in it. The writing is really nice-simple, yet you can feel a person behind it. Good stuff.

A note: I just read a passage that claimed you would make $2000 by getting $50 per game for 20 games. Maybe you address this further on, but that would be $1000.


Justin said...

Thanks Josh! And thanks for the heads-up on the mistake!

Anonymous said...

Great post and, I'm sure, book as well. Regardless of how amazing and incredible a goalkeeper training drill might be and look, I believe that a big important factor that is often overlooked is building a solid athletic foundation for a goalkeeper. Footwork, balance, bilateral development, power development, acceleration mechanics, reaction time etc. When I find myself watching training videos on youtube etc. I quickly realize that most of the time the main objective is that the GK makes the save and not enough attention is focused on proper movement/posture leading up to the actual save. This brings me to a good point you made, it's more than just being good at "the drill".