How Many Goalkeepers Should a Team Have?
When building a soccer team, one of the most crucial positions to consider is the goalkeeper (or keeper). The goalkeeper is the last line of defense and can often be the difference between winning and losing games.
But how many goalkeepers should a team have? The answer to this question depends on a few factors, including the age, level of play, and the coach’s strategy.
On my son’s U15 team, they carry a maximum roster of 18 players, two of them being keepers. At this level, they are exclusively goalies and don’t see the field as a defender, midfielder, or forward. Each player will protect the goal for a half and be on standby if any injuries occur.
Optimal Number of Goalkeepers
At the youth level, it’s common for teams to have two goalkeepers on the roster. In a typical 11v11 scenario, each goalie plays one-half of the game.
For teams that play 7v7 or 9v9, one goalie is ideal with a backup that doubles as a field player. It’s important to give players the opportunity to play in different positions to develop their skills. However, as teams move up to higher levels of play, the number of goalkeepers on the roster tends to increase.
At the professional level, teams typically have three goalkeepers on the roster. This allows for more flexibility in case of injuries or suspensions. Additionally, having multiple goalkeepers allows for healthy competition and can push each player to perform at their best. However, some teams may choose to have only two goalkeepers on the roster to allocate more resources towards other positions. Ultimately, the number of goalkeepers a team should have depends on the team’s specific needs and resources.
Importance of Having Multiple Goalkeepers
As a coach, it’s important to consider having multiple goalkeepers on your team. Here are a few reasons why:
Injury and Fatigue
Having only one goalkeeper on the team can be risky. If your goalkeeper gets injured during a game or practice, you’ll be left without a backup. This can be problematic if the injury is serious and requires a lengthy recovery time. This happened to us last year and we were lucky to have another keeper on rotation.
Depending on how much action a keeper gets, they can experience more fatigue than other players. Having a backup goalkeeper can help prevent burnout and ensure that your team has a fresh and rested goalkeeper at all times.
Skill Variety and Strategic Planning
Having multiple goalkeepers on your team can also provide you with more strategic options. Each goalkeeper has their own unique skill set and playing style, which can be advantageous in different situations. For example, if you’re playing against a team with a particularly strong offense, you may want to switch up your goalkeeper to one who is better at defending against shots from certain angles.
On the other hand, if you have a keeper who is good with their feet, you may want to keep them high up as another defender who can switch the field.
Additionally, having multiple goalkeepers can provide you with more flexibility when it comes to substitutions and game planning.
Who Should Play Keeper If There Isn’t Any?
What happens if your team doesn’t have a designated keeper or your keeper(s) can no longer play? Who should step up to take on the role?
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Look for Players with Similar Attributes
If you don’t have a designated goalkeeper, try to find players with similar attributes. Look for someone who is on the taller side, has good reflexes, and is comfortable catching and throwing a ball.
Additionally, players who are good at reading the game and communicating with their teammates can also make good keepers.
Lastly, if you can find a player who has absolutely no fear…they may be your guy or gal.
If you don’t have anyone who is comfortable playing keeper, consider rotating players throughout the game. This can give everyone a chance to try out the position and see if they have a knack for it.
If you have a player who is interested in becoming a goalkeeper, consider training them. Work with them on the specific skills and attributes needed to excel in this position. Additionally, give them plenty of opportunities to practice and get comfortable in the role.
If your organization has a goalie coach, consider getting them into the mix.
Consider Bringing in a Backup
Goalies can be scarce but if there is a keeper on another team, consider bringing them in for a trial. If it’s a good fit, let them be your temporary goalie until the others are back. It’s important to be up front about the entire situation to all parties.