In this edition of The Keeper’s Line we
highlight Alli Lipsher, SoccerPlus Goalkeeper School staff coach
and starting keeper for the Atlanta Beat, who has been named WPS
Player of the Week the last two consecutive weeks. Alli took a
few minutes out of her busy training schedule to talk with us
about her experiences in professional soccer and her involvement
with SoccerPlus Goalkeeper School.
Reporting on world soccer, we’ll share an
article highlighting SPGS alumnus Nick Rimando of Real Salt
Lake, who has been instrumental in guiding RSL to a league title
and so nearly a CONCACAF Champions League title, as well as a
report of the remarkable milestone achieved by Brazilian
goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni, who contributes to his team in Sao
Paolo at both ends of the pitch.
Former SPGS National Director George Kostelis discusses the
importance of emphasizing strong basic handling technique, and
breaks down technical aspects of each catch, along with a series
of suggested exercises for improving these techniques.
Last but certainly not least, we’ve got some compelling letters
from current and former students, and the announcement of our
1-in-30 contest winners!
Atlanta Beat's starting goalkeeper and SoccerPlus Goalkeeper
School Staff Coach, Alli Lipsher has bagged a couple of heroic
performances in the early stages of the 2011 WPS season. Her
performance in the Atlanta Beat's victory over Sky Blue FC was
honored with the WPS's Player of the Week award for Week 2. And
her 13 saves in their Week 3 match-up against newcomers Western
New York Flash earned her the same accolade for a second week
running. Lipsher becomes the first player ever to win this award
in successive weeks since the start of WPS in 2009.
had a great start to your 2011 season, having started your WPS
career with the Boston Breakers in 2009, tell us a bit about
your journey in WPS and what you've learned in your 2+ seasons. I
started in Boston in 2009 as an un-drafted player, and was able
to earn a contract after going through preseason with them. I
spent two years in Boston, and learned so much. The coaching
staff there has such a wealth of experience, and there were so
many phenomenal players that were on that team that I was able
to gain a ton of knowledge and perspective about what it means
to be a pro and play in this league. It wasn't always fun, but I
was placed in every contractual "position" possible at Boston -
I was a reserve keeper, a starting keeper, and a developmental
keeper, so I can definitely say that having to fill all of those
roles taught me a lot as well. It was also fun having SPGS staff
coming into town every week!
2. In the off-season you competed in the Australian W-League
with the Newcastle Jets. How does the standard of play and
training environment compare to that of the WPS? What was your
experience like in Australia?
Australia was a great experience, and a very
valuable one for me. It is an up-and-coming league
with a lot of good young players. It's a great
league, and a great out-of-season environment. I got
to play in 10+ games, and have a consistent training
environment during the off-season, which is
something I didn't have the year before - I think it
was extremely valuable for me. Off the field,
Australia is absolutely unreal. I had some of the
most amazing experiences there, and saw some of the
most beautiful scenery and landscapes I think I've
ever seen (and growing up in Hawaii, trust me,
that's saying a lot).
Alli anchoring the Newcastle Jet's backline and
keeping busy during
the WPS off-season
3. You played for Nathan Kipp (SPGS Director) at Duke and he got
you involved with SPGS, can you tell us a bit about your
experiences with SoccerPlus. Has it helped you to develop a
stronger relationship with
Katie Fraine at the Beat? Nate
got me to work a couple of weeks of camp before my senior season
at duke, and I loved it. I worked two weeks in San Diego and had
an absolute blast - that was enough to get me hooked! In my
opinion goalkeepers are all bonkers, and when you put 200+
keepers together you know some great things are bound to happen!
Coaching at SoccerPlus Goalkeeper School has been a really
important key in my development, as they've given me a chance to
train with and amongst phenomenal coaches and players. I also
have gotten so much better as a coach, and found out how much I
really enjoy helping younger keepers in their development. As
for Katie, I hadn't had a chance to really talk to her that much
the first couple of days she was here. After a preseason game I
was wearing a SPGS staff shirt and she was like "wait, you
coached with SoccerPlus?!" which of course fed into an hour long
conversation about the summers past and mutual friends. She's a
great keeper and person and it's been great having her on the
4. Growing up in Hawaii, what opportunities were there for you
to play? Being of the islands, did you dream you'd grow up to
play professional soccer? I
played for a great club team growing up that gave me the
opportunity to travel during the summers to the mainland and get
seen by college coaches. Soccer in Hawaii is growing. In the
last five years the state has started to experience a lot more
success and develop a lot of quality players. I have always been
really competitive, and have strived to compete at the highest
level possible ever since I was a kid. When WUSA started, I
wanted to be a part of it. I was really fortunate that I only
had to wait a year after graduating from college to try and be a
part of the WPS when it started in 2009.
5. You’ve already made an impressive start with Atlanta. What
are your goals for the rest of the season and your future beyond
My goal is simple: consistency. It's going to be a lot of hard
work, but we have 15 games remaining this season and I
want our to team to be successful in every one of them. We are
extremely hard working, and I want us to maintain our focus
throughout the season so that all of the work we put in on the
training field, can manifest into success on the game-field week
in and week out.
The Atlanta Beat travel to Rochester, NY to face the Western New
York Flash once again this weekend. This week's televised game
features the Boston Breakers taking on Sky Blue FC in a 6pm
kick-off at Harvard Stadium. Coverage of the game will be
available on Fox Soccer Channel starting at 6pm.
celebrate the 30th year of SoccerPlus, every registration
through March 29th, 2011 was entered into a drawing to receive
free tuition to any SoccerPlus camp this summer. The draw
has been conducted at random and here are the winners:
Congratulations to all and we look forward to seeing you at
Goalkeeper School is where goalkeepers come to
get better. SPGS students develop an understanding of
how to achieve at the next level. Whether you are new to
or looking to prepare for a collegiate season,
SoccerPlus can help you to get to where you want to be.
Record-breaking goalkeeper Rogério Ceni
scores his 100th career
São Paulo No1 converts free kick in derby win over Corinthians
Becomes first keeper in world football to reach 100 mark
The Brazilian Rogério Ceni converted a free kick to become the
first goalkeeper to score 100 career goals, helping São Paulo
defeat their arch-rivals Corinthians 2-1 in the process.
"It was beautiful," said Ceni, who was the third goalkeeper in
Brazil's squad when they won the 2002 World Cup. "As a
goalkeeper you don't enter the match thinking about scoring a
goal, but it happened just as I wanted: with a free kick,
deciding an important match. For me, it doesn't matter that it
was against Corinthians, but for the fans it must have been
Ceni struck a right-footed shot into the top right corner nine
minutes into the second half to put São Paulo 2-0 up. It was his
56th free-kick goal, while the others came from penalties.
Fifa says Ceni has 98 goals, but the goalkeeper counts two he
scored in unofficial friendlies: one against a combined Santos
and Flamengo side in 1998 and the other against the Russian club
Uralan Elista in an exhibition tournament in 2000. But even by
Fifa's count, he is the goalkeeper with the most goals ever
São Paulo had gone 11 games since 2007 without beating
Corinthians, but their keeper's record strike helped secure
victory in a match marred by three red cards.
technical soccer term describes the way 5-foot-10 Nick Rimando
of Real Salt Lake came out of the net Wednesday and created an
obstacle for Monterrey star Humberto Suazo, trying to score on a
Raising his arms and widening his body, Rimando “made himself
big,” said RSL defender Nat Borchers.
The bold strategy worked. Suazo missed the shot. And there could
be no better way to summarize Rimando’s impact as RSL’s
Made himself big? I’d say so. Ever since arriving in 2007 and
becoming the team MVP during a tough season, Rimando has
anchored the rebuilding of RSL that led to a Major League Soccer
championship in ’09 and positioned the team for a bid to the
FIFA Club World Cup.
All that remains is Wednesday’s second leg of the CONCACAF
Champions League final against Monterrey at Rio Tinto Stadium.
This thought is irresistible, if not realistic: If Rimando shuts
out Monterrey, RSL advances.
That’s asking a lot, after Rimando’s outstanding work was
necessary just to hold Monterrey to two goals in a first-leg tie
in Mexico. Yet even a 1-1 draw would be sufficient for RSL,
based on the format that values road goals, and it all adds up
to Rimando’s importance being bigger than ever.
That’s fine with him. Possessing the confidence an elite
goalkeeper needs, Rimando is comfortable as a team leader and
face of the franchise. Other than maybe Kyle Beckerman, Rimando
is the most recognizable RSL player. Established in Salt Lake
City with his wife, Jacqui, and two young children, Rimando
likes to interact with fans through social media.
Via Twitter, he’s promoting a “Red Out” in the stands for
Wednesday’s game. Meanwhile, he’ll be wearing black, in a
distinguishing goalkeeper’s uniform, and trying to keep Suazo
and his teammates out of the net.
“In the back of our minds, we know 0-0 is good enough, but we
want to get some goals,” Rimando said after a weekend practice
in Lehi. “We can’t just sit back and play defense the whole
game. That’s not our game, that’s not our strategy and it never
will be, because we don’t play good that way.”
So Real will play aggressively, which means Monterrey will have
counter-attacking opportunities and Rimando will have to come
through — just as he did in Mexico, where one of Monterrey’s
goals came via a penalty kick. “That’s my job,” he said. “As
good of a team as they are, they’re going to get those chances.”
Now in his 12th MLS season, Rimando thrives in moments like
this. “It’s about hunger, when you reach Nick’s stage,” said
coach Jason Kreis, and Rimando has it. His level of confidence
is higher than ever, he responds to big games, and the players
in front of him feed off him.
“It’s not just the saves, it’s the communication, it’s the
demeanor,” Borchers said. “A lot of those things kind of play
into the way we play defense.”
In the MLS Cup victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy, Rimando’s
save of Edson Buddle’s penalty kick ultimately made him the MVP,
once Robbie Russell delivered the winning kick. Rimando followed
that performance with a brilliant 2010 season, recording 14
shutouts and a 0.67 goals-against average, doing everything but
being named Goalkeeper of the Year, which was an injustice.
Rimando is playing well in both MLS and Champions League games
this spring, and he will be vital Wednesday. Asked jokingly if
he’s seeing Suazo in his sleep, Rimando responded intently, “Not
at all. He’s a fantastic player … but we’ve got to concentrate
on ourselves right now. When we do that, we play well.”
And this is one more time for RSL to rise up. One more time for
Nick Rimando to make himself big.
by George Kostelis, SPGS National Director, NSCAA National
Goalkeepers at all levels are required not only to handle the
ball but to handle all routine shots and crosses successfully.
Yet, in every game - regardless of the level - we see mishandled
shots or crosses.
At SoccerPlus Goalkeeper School we train goalkeepers to minimize
mishandled shots through the following sequence:
1. Identify or name the handling techniques. There are
only four (4) ways in which a keeper has to handle any shot.
Also identify the associated handling positions and there are
only 3 of these.
By simplifying the position, you allow the keeper to make easier
technical decisions and also allow them the appropriate
reference points so that they can coach themselves.
2. Train each handling technique separately to make sure
the key aspects are understood and repeated and then train them
collectively so that the keeper has to adjust from one handling
position to another based on the shot, location and pace.
Remember when training technique make sure there are many, many
However, before we even begin to identify and train handling, we
must first perfect the goalkeeper stance and ready position. The
stance is consistent with any athletic starting position. The
knees are slightly bent and the feet are about shoulder width
apart, the weight is forward onto the “ball of the feet” and the
feet are only slightly toed out. A key aspect of the proper
stance is that the elbows are also flexed at about 90 degrees
with the hands forward, relaxed and with the palms facing down
(See Picture 1). A flat piece of cardboard should slide up along
the body with the elbows slightly in front. The head is still
and slightly forward and also relaxed. The important aspect of
the stance is that the overall position is relaxed, not tense
and that it facilitates movement. Essentially, the stance should
promote dynamic mobility to overcome the effects of inertia.
Movement is created by a “transfer of momentum” initiated from
the hands and arms (the smaller levers of the body) and then
transferring to the legs and back (the larger levers of the
body). Common mistakes with the stance are: 1. Rigid,
tense muscular positions, 2. Palms facing out (either
above the waist or from below the waist), 3. Arms allowed
to hang down too low, 4. Feet staggered and not balanced
or square and 5. Poor head position.
The four handling positions are:
1. Basket Catch – balls played along the ground
or up to the mid-trunk that allow the keeper to get
behind the ball. (See Picture 2)
2. Contour Catch – balls played at the mid-trunk
or higher that allow the keeper to get square behind the
ball. (See Picture 3) The question always arises, when
do I go from a basket catch to a contour catch? The
answer is when the ball is to be first touched by the
forearms then use the basket catch. When the ball is
going to hit your body first, then use the contour
3. High-Contour Catch – balls such as crosses
that can be caught above the challenge use the same
technique as the contour catch but with extended or
nearly extended arms so to catch above any fieldplayer’s
challenge. (See Picture 4) 4. Side-Contour Catch – balls that are slightly
to the side, not allowing the keeper to be square behind
the shot, require a side-contour catch. (See Picture 5).
This catch is again the same as the contour catch but
just turned on its side. The head, hands and ball come
together to secure the catch.
Try these training exercises:
GK-2 begins between back 2 cones, spaced shoulders’
width apart, on command from GK-1, GK-2 steps forward
and sets in front of top 2 cones – 2 yards apart and
handles ball delivered by GK-1. Continue. Train each
technique in 2-3 minute intervals.
Use hand distribution to maximize repetitions to train
the basic techniques to handling:
+ Basket Catch
(baseball throw a skipped ball) + Contour Catch
(sling throw the ball towards the chest/head) + Side Contour (toss
the ball just outside the frame of the body) + High Contour (toss
the ball into the air in front of GK)
- Foot distribution: off the ground, half-volley, and
volley should be used for intermediate to high level
- Coach serves the goalkeepers; goalkeepers rotate
through the exercise.
Utilizing the goal. Cones are placed 3 yards off the
goal line representing the middle third of the goal. 3
goalkeepers train. GK-1 in goal, between the cones. GK-2
GK-3 outside the goal on each post. Coach serves from 14
– 16 yards.
Note: Emphasizing the middle third of the goal
encourages the goalkeepers to use proper footwork, which
should eliminate diving and reaffirm utilization of
basic techniques. The coach should stipulate no diving
and encourage footwork.
GK-1 starts between the cones with a ball. GK-1 bowls
ball to coach. Prior to first time redirection from
coach, GK-1 should pre-stretch and set. GK-1 reacts to
shot using proper handling technique. After making the
save, GK-1 exits the goal, towards GK-2. GK-2 enters the
exercise and continues the sequence.
GK-1 starts between the cones facing the goal. Coach has
the soccer balls. On command, GK-1 will turn to handle a
shot from coach.
GK-1 starts outside the cones. On command, GK1 will
shuffle and set in between the cones to handle a shot
from the coach.
- Coach serves volleys and drop-kicks.
- Incorporate agility: start goalkeepers on their
stomach or sides.
- Have goalkeepers face the flank outside the cones.
This will force the goalkeepers to use a drop-step
and/or cross-over step.
- Have goalkeepers shuffle and touch the cone or
footwork around the cones.
+ Focus on setting feet
and using proper ready position to handle shots. + Utilize proper
techniques to catch the ball. + Emphasize footwork
and getting the body behind the ball. + Maximize the
number of repetitions to train technique.
The associated handling positions are as follows:
Front-smother – this is an extension of the
basket catch, used to control hard low shots. (See
Breakaway technique – this is an extension of
the side-contour catch. The Break-away save, technique
and tactics will be discussed in a later article but as
you can see, the technique requires the side contour
catch position as the keeper sprawls to win a through
ball or an open ball in their penalty area. (See picture
Collapse Dive – this technique is again an
extension of the side contour handling position
requiring a diving save. The collapse dive is when the
keeper catches the ball before the save but their
momentum requires a controlled collapse with the ball.
(See picture 8 & 9)
Remember, when training technique the key component is
repetition. Coach to build self-confidence in your
keeper. Don’t overanalyze…sometimes you do everything
right as a keeper and get scored on, and other times you
make a number of mistakes but the ball stays out of the
net so be selective with your coaching.
Briana Scurry, probably the best female
keeper to ever play was not a great technical
goalkeeper. Some of her catching or handling was not
perfect BUT, she made saves so Tony and her other
coaches didn’t over-coach her. That is what I mean by
being selective. It’s more important to have a
self-confident keeper than a keeper suffering from
paralysis by analysis!
Good luck and enjoy working with your keeper…the time
spent will make a difference for your team.
Utilizing the goal. GK-1 will stand in the center of the
goal. GK-2 and GK-3 will be positioned outside the
corners of the 6 yard box with 2 medicine balls each.
Coach is 16 yards away with soccer balls.
Note: Kwik Goal medicine balls are useful tools to
assist goalkeepers with using proper technique and
GK-1 will footwork to GK-2 and handle a bowled ball
using a front-smother save. GK-1 will then recover back
to the center of the goal, set to handle a shot to a
pre-determined side to train the collapse dive. Repeat
sequence to the other. After completing the sequence,
GK-2 replaces GK-1 in goal; GK-1 becomes a server.
GK-1 will footwork to GK-2, set to handle a bowled ball
to the right side using a collapse dive. GK-1 will then
recover back to the center of the goal. The coach will
then play a ball in front of GK-1 for them to make a
breakaway save. Repeat the sequence to the other side.
The only change is having GK-1 make a collapse dive to
GK-1 will footwork to GK-2, set to handle a ball played
to either side or at GK-1 to make a collapse dive or
front smother save. GK-1 will then recover to the center
of the goal, set, then handle either a shot or respond
to a loose ball for a breakaway save.
- Replace medicine balls with regular soccer balls.
- Incorporate a live breakaway from the top of the
- Provide foot service from the angle positions.
- Increase the intensity level; each segment of the
training exercise should be continuous.
Coaching Points: + Stress the
importance of the technical set position. + Goalkeepers need
to bring in the forearms when making a front-smother
save. + Encourage saving
through the ball when making the breakaway save. + When making a
collapse dive save, the goalkeeper’s body momentum
should come forward towards the ball.
- Mark out a field: 25 x 44
- Divide 18 players into 4 groups, each with a different
color. Arrange four teams of 4 and 2 goalkeepers.
- The game is 2 v 2 + 2 neutral players.
- Utilize resting team players as neutral players.
- 2-3 minute games.
Note: Goalkeeper coach should be behind the goal
evaluating the goalkeeper’s performance. Feedback should
be provided after the 2-3 minute intervals.
Teams play 2 v 2 + 2.
The objective is to create as many shots as possible on
After 2-3 minutes, alternate the 2 resting players from
each team, as well as the neutral players and play
another game. Winning team will remain on the field.
- Add two neutral players to the flanks. This will add
the dimension of dealing with crosses (high contour).
- Eliminate directional play; allow the teams to attack
Coaching Points: + Emphasize
positional play; ball-line and angle arch. + Use proper
distribution. + Tactical decision
Can you send me a copy of the black and white background photo?
I think I am in there when I attended freshman year of high
school. Funny stuff. My first goalkeeping experience ever.
SoccerPlus Founder Tony DiCicco addressing his campers
at the Forman School, Litchfield, CT 1989.
am there. You have three kids with their arms
crossed. I am the one above the player
kneeling with the bad Roberto Baggio mullet. That was the summer
before my freshman year; 1989 I believe. I was a baseball player
that wanted to be a goalkeeper. SoccerPlus was my first camp
soccer experience. I was in awe with the level of the courage,
athleticism, and passion from the staff. I was fast and athletic
which helped my cause then but I realized it took so much more.
Met friends that week that I am life long friends with. That
camp experience inspired me to train harder to play varsity
soccer all for years in high school, play at Bryant University,
go onto coach at Central Connecticut State University, and start
the goalkeeper equipment and education website
www.keeperstop.com. I am still learning every
day about myself and coaching. The encouragement from the staff,
the level of competition from my peers, and pressure training
got me hooked for ever on goalkeeping.
I actually remember it was like yesterday. One of my best
friends today is a goalkeeper I met while I was there. We
watched re-runs of CHIPS during the breaks!
Just wanted to let the SoccerPlus family know that I have
recently committed to Randolph College, a D3 school in
Lynchburg, VA. It was a long, stressful process and I'm very
glad to have finally found my new home for the next
four years. I've been attending SoccerPlus Colgate for four
years, this year will be my fifth, and it wouldn't have been
possible with out these camps. So thank you!
Can't wait for Colgate 2011!
I hope you are doing really well. I've just gotten back from
Senegal and I'm now back in class for a few more weeks to finish
the semester. I'll be home at the end of May and then its SPGS
was incredible and I learned so much. I also was excited to tell
you that I actually got the opportunity to run an impromptu
goalkeeping session in a small Senegalese village on Friday! My
group had met with the village chief that morning, and after
learning that I play, he invited me to come to the village team
training that evening! I got there expecting just to sit and
watch, but he soon called me over and asked if I could train his
keepers! There were about 60 boys there total, not one of them
owning a pair of cleats or shin guards. There were 4 goalkeepers
14-19 (one of them had a pair of gloves), we had a dirt/rock
pitch, 1 ball, and three broken cinderblocks as equipment. So
for 90 minutes we did lots of handling, footwork, and other
drills that I could manage to explain in French.
Typical field conditions in Senegal
Local soccer players having obviously enjoyed their
Andrea teaching basic handling techniques to her
Players, parents and village Chief, all passionate
and extremely grateful for having Andrea in attendance.
were so thankful just to hear the simplest goalkeeping theory
really explained to them for the first time, it made me feel
incredibly lucky to have had so much amazing training. I
definitely won't be complaining about field conditions or torn
gloves again! Their coach/village chief's son was so grateful to
have his goalkeepers coached for the first time, and I was
overwhelmed with the passion for the game that we all shared.
I'm planning on going back soon and maybe spending a month or so
there working with the team and the village. It was truly a
life-changing experience at the end of a great trip.
Andrea will be a member of the SPGS coaching staff this