As a Keeper coach, I look for one thing in a keeper. It’s not size, speed or strength. It’s not even talent, for that matter. The first thing I look for is Passion for the position. Without this intangible none of the aforementioned tangibles mattered.

I want to coach keepers who have a chip on their shoulders. The right kind of chip, not a negative attitude, but rather the feeling that they have something to prove. They have to be hungry to prove other coaches wrong who told them they’re too small, too slow, not athletic or strong enough. Their Passion drove them. It also engendered an incredible level of loyalty in the one person who saw something in them.

The keepers I work with are my kind of people. Quite simply, I relate well to them because I see a little bit of myself in them. I was the athlete who was told he didn’t have what it took and I was the student who was told he wasn’t smart enough.

Most people are going to go one of two ways hearing that. They will either listen to that feedback and it will become reality, or it will drive them because they’re passionate — passionate to succeed and prove the naysayers wrong in the process.

I have come across some keepers over the years who are content with being a number 2, or back-up keeper, they are OK just doing enough to keep them in the squad, Some might say they are afraid to commit, I’d say just not passionate enough. The bottom line is that you can’t teach Passion. People either have it or they don’t.

Being Passionate about being a Keeper does five key things.

1. Passion eliminates failure as an option.

When you’re Passionate you go all in and push all your chips to the center of the table. There is no plan B.

2. Passion drives improvement.

When you’re Passionate, “good enough” isn’t. When you’re not, good enough always is.

3. Passion fuels solutions.

When you’re Passionate enough, you’ll either find a way or make one. When you’re not, you’ll find an excuse.

4. Passion is a driver.

You don’t have to micromanage the Passionate. They’re so self-motivated they’ll push themselves harder, your Passion helps them!

5. Passion opens eyes.

The passionate have their eyes open to identify a small window of opportunity and turn it into a gaping hole.

Channel the Passion.

Now, as great as having passion about the position is, it is also crucial that passionate keepers are good listeners and are open to instruction while being coached.  It’s great being passionate, but if young keepers cannot channel and focus that passion the correct way, they can lack control and will be over stimulated and not perform to the best of their ability.

A good coach can help the young keeper focus and channel that love of the game into well thought out, progressive and challenging goalkeeper coaching sessions.  IT is important to have an excellent Keeper – Coach connection, where the coach is familiar with the keeper and can understand the passion and knows the keeper well enough to read and see the passion they need channeling.