Patrick Morrison

PATRICK MORRISON: The 11 goalkeeper principles: PART TWO

By Patrick Morrison

Part Two My Eleven Goalkeeping Principles and the culmination of last week’s article continued below…


There are different forms of Manipulation that a goalkeeper can use to gain an advantage over their opponents. These methods can be broken down into two categories of Direct or Indirect. When engaging opponents directly, it means you are immediately involved with stopping their play and examples of these types of situations would be one-v-ones, high balls, penalties, filling in as the sweeper. When closing attackers in one-v-one situations this principle can be used with the Close the Gap Principle above. You can hurry the shooter into a forced decision by showing more of one part of the goal, coming out on a certain side (stronger/weaker side) of the shooter or by talking to the shooter as you approach to try and influence their thought process.

In terms of influencing opponents Indirectly, the goalkeeper can counteract the opposition game plan by using effective communication to mobilise their defence to plug holes or pick up loose men/runners, cover space, double up on ball carriers/shooters, and/or simply keep disciplined in their defensive shape. As a goalkeeper you will make more saves through effective communication rather than blocking goal bound shots with your appendages. Another indirect method of influencing opposition is through your Restarts. By executing your kicking effectively, it can cause the opposition to change the way they set up both on your restarts and in their defensive formation as well. Having effective restart routines is vital for any team to succeed.


Can very easily be misinterpreted for the S&C definition for recovery whereby you use various methods to help your body to recover from exertion in preparation for the next training session or game. But in this regard, goalkeeping Recovery is very different both in definition and application. A goalkeeper’s recovery deals with two things:

a] Firstly, goalkeeping recovery deals with how quickly they can return to the Set position after a dive/save/catch/fall/challenge etc. To minimise this time frame, a goalkeeper can use the M.S.G. Pendulum Roll technique to get back to their set position efficiently without using your arms, meaning they are free to be used to block/save any shots while recovering to your set position.

b] Secondly, this principle deals with how well the goalkeeper can recover from making a mistake. Whether it be conceding a goal, being caught out of position, mishitting a goal kick, being wrong footed, dropping a high ball, making a wrong decision or a combination of any of the same, a goalkeeper must have the internal strength to recover from mistakes before they even happen.


If performed correctly, a goalkeeper will stop more goal chances with their voice than they ever will using their body to save shots on goal. Although all of these principles are intertwined, it is the communication principle that acts as the glue to bind them all together. The better the communication level of the goalkeeper the better their performance levels will become.

When a goalkeeper is talking to teammates, they must use the 3C’s (Clear; Concise; Constant) to relay game information/ commentary/patterns/structures to teammates/management in a timely manner. This allows them to make better informed decisions with the information you have supplied to them. The goalkeeper must be able to praise players when playing well but paradoxically, they must also be able to challenge players when they are playing below their expected levels.

It is important to remember that although critiques are required, being conservative with your tone will keep the team harmony intact. For teams that have a team language, goalkeepers must ensure that any Buzz Words or Defensive Calls must be used effectively and in a timely manner so players can act upon them in real time during games.


“Presence is a funny thing. If you have to prove that you have got it, then you probably never really had it in the first place!” First felt within the goalkeeper themselves and then by their teammates, being a strong confident presence is important for every goalkeeper. Being a strong and confident presence during competition will un-nerve the opposition emotionally while also help to boost your teammate’s morale as your confidence feeds their own and knowing they have great cover behind them can be a calming influence on your teammates.

Always attack the ball with controlled aggression ensuring you protect yourself at all times while also ensuring there is no intentional harm caused to others. Gaelic football is a contact sport and injuries happen so remember Rule No. is that ‘Goalkeeping Hurts!’ As a goalkeeper you must always ‘Lead by Performance’ oozing confidence especially when you are feeling nervous. Whether you like it or not the goalkeeping position automatically comes with a position of leadership so the sooner you can accept this and become comfortable with the expectations that brings, then the sooner you can grow into the role of a goalkeeper. Embrace your position and become MR / MRS CONFIDENT!!

11 C.A.N.I. (Constant And Never-ending Improvement):

My father had a saying he would always use. “I can’t wait until l’marra,” he’d say. “Because I get better lookin’ every day!” His message was simple… make sure what you have done today is going to make you a better version of yourself tomorrow. Even a combination of the smallest actions can create massive improvements. Thirst for improvement and the best way of constantly improving your game is to become a student of the goalkeeper position.

Nobody knows how you want to play goalkeeper better than you!! Use that insight to gain vast improvements in your performance.

Be forensic in your quest for improvement. Look at everything in as much detail as you possibly can to ensure nothing has been overlooked or neglected. Learn to use Self and Peer Appraisal for feedback.

Learn to admit/deal with mistakes and accept challenges from players/management. Do not simply dismiss criticism from fans or pundits, remember even a broken clock is right twice a day!!

Examples of improvement methods include individual/team statistics, match analysis, video analysis, modern training methods, regular recorded testing, focusing on problem areas, focus on specific skills, goal setting, as well as planning training schedules for the day/week/month/year.

Asking advice from players/management/other keepers, adequate rest, hydration, and nutrition is also vital. For some of these methods you may need to seek professional help to ensure that you have the best/correct information available to help you improve.

These eleven principles are the core framework for any goalkeeper to create their own goalkeeping style. If you do decide to use them as a starting block it is important to remember they are not set in stone and can be added to or reduced as you feel necessary. You may even want to create your own set of principles from scratch, that’s perfectly fine. After all, how you want to play as a goalkeeper is purely your decision and these principles are here to guide you through that process.

Whether you are looking to create a goalkeeping style or just tweak one you already have, Morrison School of Goalkeeping Eleven Goalkeeping Principles will be the perfect framework for you to follow.


Facebook: @MSoG11

Twitter: @MorSchGk

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