How Women’s Goalkeeping Has Evolved

As all positions in women’s soccer have evolved and improved over the years to adapt to new rules and innovations within the game, one position that has really changed is women’s goalkeeping. The keeper position has always been a crucial part of the game. Whether it was a real match or pick-up game, each team would appoint a teammate to stand in the goal to keep the ball from going in. No matter what century it is, the whole purpose of the game is to not let the ball hit the back of your net.

The most important and underrated position on the field is the keeper spot. Goalkeepers not only have to be good with their feet, but they also have to be diligent with their hands, eyes, reaction time, and continuously make instant decisions when the ball is in the final third. Goalkeepers must be well-rounded in all aspects of the game to help dictate play. They are the team’s organizer and the eyes behind the backline when opposing forwards try to sneak behind to make a run. Without the goalkeeper, teams would struggle to defend a big goal, especially if they can’t use their hands.

Over time, goalkeepers have had to adapt to new rules such as offside, penalty kicks, and the 18- and 6-yard boxes. Goalkeepers have gone from using their bare hands to catch the ball, wearing high-waisted shorts, high socks, and very questionable goalie jerseys to gloves that are made to never drop the ball and swagged out jerseys in every color.

This is nothing to say of the remarkable advancements made in keeper training. Keepers used to just practice with their team since position-specific training did not exist. However, now keepers have specialized training to help hone their skills. They partake in goalie-specific drills that work on diving, decision making, precision, goal kicks, and punting. Although, keepers have to be good with both their hands and their feet. So foot skill training and understanding field positions are also aspects of the game they work on. Goalkeepers have their hands full with playing many roles on and off the field.

Goalkeepers have evolved from dirt fields and soccer balls that looked like volleyballs to artificial turf and soccer balls that are designed to take flight at a certain speed. It is amazing to see how far the beautiful game has come and how different it used to be. Penalty kicks used to be one vs. one to goal, referees used to not be available for women’s games, and, best of all, uniforms used to be called costumes. The evolution of keepers and soccer as a whole has given us the beautiful game we have today.

Featured Image via Adobe Stock @rafikovayana



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