It’s universally agreed that one has to be a little bit crazy to want to become a goalkeeper. The position require nerves of steel, intimidation, and intuition — and that’s before talent, positioning, and technique come in.
The great goalkeepers combine all of these things when they sign up for the largely thankless task of being the last line of defense between the opposing players and their net.
Alisson Becker is Liverpool’s current goalkeeper, and he’s arguably one of the best playing the game. To us mere laypeople, it’s difficult to understand what may be running through his head as he sees Lionel Messi descending upon him.
For that, the official site spoke to an expert. Liverpool assistant goalkeeping coach Jack Robinson took the time to analyze Alisson’s technique to provide a bit of insight.
“The goalkeepers have to be able to understand when and where to do things,” Robinson explains of the pre-game process. “We try and put on realistic scenarios or realistic exercises that force the goalkeepers to make decisions in training.
“So hopefully they repeat the correct decisions over and over again in training and when they come to the game, they don’t have to think about it – it just becomes a natural decision.”
And Alisson specifically? At times during a match, it seems like Alisson is the only person in the whole stadium.
“He’s really comfortable on the ball and wants to receive it under pressure. Like you see in the games, that nerve strength, that calmness, he’s able to play when there’s chaos all around him.”
When it comes to making the right decisions with the ball, in the split-second a keeper has to choose, Robinson explains:
“If you catch the ball, you have the opportunity to attack and to break quickly – again fitting into how our team wants to play. Deflecting or parrying into the correct areas is really important, so keeping it away from the centre of the goal, pushing it around the post or over the bar. We try and put those scenarios on so that the goalkeepers get a feel of where the danger might be.
“If you look at how Alisson works, when he was in Italy he talks about how they worked a lot on having soft hands and feeling when to parry the ball and when to have a strong wrist to push the ball far away, or when to just help the ball into a different area.”
The whole interview is an interesting look at what the team values in a goalkeeper generally and Alisson in particular. It’s also a reminder that while the Brazilian is a world class talent, there’s also a world class effort going on behind the scenes to mold and refine that talent as well.