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Coaches Column


Key Qualities of an AYSO Soccer Player

Over the next few articles, I would like to take the opportunity to break down the key qualities of an AYSO soccer player by position. While doing this, I will also utilize the numbering system rather than the old fashioned name of the position. Why has U.S. Soccer transitioned to the soccer numbering system? According to Dave Chester, currently a performance analysis coach with the USWNT, "A standard numbering system for positions and their roles provides a concise and common method of communicating technical information about individual and team play. These same tags can be applied to any system and adapted to all levels of play." As coaches, we want to transition from discussing actual positions which are more related to a specific system, to discussing soccer numbers and therefore, the characteristics a player brings to the table in relation to what is generally required of that number/role within our individual team's system of play. 

When we start to think about the general playing characteristics associated with each number, we start to see how all of this makes sense from a coaching tactical perspective, from a scouting and recruiting perspective and from a player education perspective. 

Coaches, with their new education, are now evaluating the tactical adjustments necessary for their system of play based on the qualities of their players. For players, they can start to identify with different rules based on their skills and abilities. 

The introduction of the numbering system to our coaching and player education is a step in the right direction. The United States is becoming more tactically aware. This will also give us an opportunity as coaches to educate the parents. Parents gaining an understanding of the numbering system will certainly make the game more enjoyable for them to watch as well as for some better conversations on the ride home. 

This week, let us look at the key qualities of the #1, also known as the Goalkeeper, Keeper, Keep, Last Line of Defense, Pressure Cooker, the wall, Golden Glove, and my favorite, Goal Posts Bodyguard!

Key Qualities - Goalkeeper

Key Qualities - Position Profiles

#1 - GOALKEEPER

TECHNICAL

  • Collecting, handling & serving with hands & feet
  • Receiving aerial service (all angles, distances)
  • Tackle, regain possession 1v1

TACTICAL

  • Command, direct team during re-starts
  • Organize, direct team actions in own half
  • Transition to attack -- possess or penetrate

PHYSICAL

  • Power, acceleration and explosive movement
  • Aerial mobility maximize height and reach
  • Maximal Speed of Reaction

PSYCHOSOCIAL

  • Alert and focused, constant assessment of play
  • Lead -- confident, decisive mentally
  • Resilient -- re-focus on targets, objectives

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