Women’s football used to be a bit of an invisible sport. In recent years, however, it has skyrocketed in popularity, there has been more media attention and the good performance of the national team will only ensure that this fame will increase in the future. Female or even male goalkeepers will not be surprised anymore when the names Sari Van Veenendaal or Justin Odeurs are mentioned. All of us know by now what these female goalkeepers are capable of.
There are more similarities between men and women that we can write down here, but there are also some differences between male and female players on the field. Male players are of course faster and stronger, especially when it comes to tackling, women on the other hand tend to play a slower game, putting more focus on the skill compared to the physical playing style of men.
But we are not here to talk about football in general but specifically about the differences in goalkeeping and that is an area that has improved tremendously in women’s football over the last 10-15 years.
Are there any differences between goalkeepers in men and women?
Disclaimer: This article is purely about the differences (and similarities) between men and women and is not written to discuss “gender”.
The length of a goalkeeper
Goal sizes have historically been designed for male players. Women are generally smaller and have less explosiveness when jumping. This means that female goalkeepers generally have to play closer to their line in order not to be surprised by a lobbed shot.
Women often lack muscle power compared to men. Strength is extremely important for a goalkeeper, as it allows you to hold onto the ball after a big dive or a tight cross. It is also important to prevent injuries and it is something that all goalkeepers, but especially women, should focus on during training.
Female players have an advantage when playing the mental game, right? In general, women are less dominated by ego and can accept mistakes more easily and as a result they are generally more receptive to coaching. With male goalkeepers, however, it is a slightly different story. For goalkeepers, having an ego can sometimes be useful to defend themselves against the reality of failure as a goalkeeper. We know that every goalkeeper will stop goals in his career, but how you handle yourself afterwards will determine your overall success.
If you are a goalkeeper on a women’s football team, you need to be aware of your performance, acknowledge your weaknesses and work on them in training. But be careful not to berate yourself or let those weaknesses affect your overall confidence on and off the field.