The future of goalkeeping
13 November 2019
Michael Rechner is goalkeeper trainer of TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and founder of Goalkeeping Development, a wide-ranging training program for modern goalkeepers. In the first part of our interview he reveals where he gets the inspiration for his goalkeeper training, what Goalkeeping Development is all about and what influence the choice of glove can have on your own performance.
Hi Michael, first of all: What and who is Goalkeeping Development?
Goalkeeping Development is my project and my heart. It’s not just a software that helps me work as a goalkeeper trainer for TSG Hoffenheim every day, but a support and inspiration for all trainers and keepers!
By highest quality and most modern technologies we want to optimize the goalkeeper’s training and play by offering a constantly growing pool of practice videos – currently more than 180 – , various tools for training planning, game preparation, training itself and match analysis.
You’re the founder of Goalkeeping Development. What qualifies you as a goalkeeper expert?
I have played actively as a goalkeeper for a very long time, five years as a professional, among others in the German Bundesliga at HSV in Hamburg and also in the 2nd Bundesliga at Waldhof Mannheim. I played three junior international matches for Germany in the U18 and decided relatively early, at the age of 24, to study instead.
I studied sports science in Heidelberg and wrote my thesis on the topic “The requirements profile and the training methodology of the football goalkeeper”. After my graduation I went directly to TSG Hoffenheim and since 2008, in the meantime for more than eleven years, I have been employed as a goalkeeper trainer and coordinator. Over the years, I have acquired all the licenses in the goalkeeper coaching field and hold the highest license, the UEFA Goalkeeper Trainer A license. In addition, I also have the trainer A licence in the field players section.
When did the moment come when you thought: “We have to revolutionize goalkeeping technologically”?
Revolutionizing goalkeeping was never the original idea. The real origin was that TSG Hoffenheim developed a database for the entire club between 2010 and 2012. However, the goalkeeper area itself had hardly existed in terms of training documentation, training planning and analysis, but at that time was purely focused on the field player area. I then spoke to the TSG sports director at the time, Bernhard Peters, and said that I would like to develop my own platform especially for goalkeepers.
Through a joint project with the University of Karlsruhe, I first had a database programmed, which has been continuously developed over the last few years. On 01.07.2017 a completely revised version of the software was released.
“Attention, distractibility, perception and information processing are all different topics from the cognitive field that can be excellently placed in different forms of training.”
At the same time, there were other topics that were included in the evolution of Goalkeeping Development, such as the area of goalkeeper training for children. There were many inquiries and a lot of catching up to do in Germany. Extremely many children enthusiastically want to take the goalkeeper position in the youth field, but unfortunately there are too few trained goalkeeper coaches. For this reason we have founded the Keeper Academy.
There is also a great demand in the area of advanced training, so that since 2017 we have regularly offered a workshop for goalkeeper coaches.
Where do you get the inspiration for new exercises and methods in goalkeeper training or for new materials?
The basic idea is always that I watch match situations, first and foremost the own matches of the TSG Hoffenheim professional team. Based on the match situations, I try to create appropriate exercises. I take a very concrete look at the match situations, conceded goals and saves, and try to transfer these match situations to the training ground so that the goalkeeper training is as close to the match as possible.
In addition, there are many ways to be inspired, e.g. by other sports. There are always interesting approaches, especially in the athletic field, where it is worthwhile to draw cross-links and combine certain contents with each other.
A big topic for me is the cognitive area. Cognitive elements can be integrated into every exercise in order to make the training forms more complex. Attention, distractibility, perception and information processing are all different topics from the cognitive field, which can be excellently placed in different forms of training.
As training materials I like to use air bodies, because they can be used especially for exercises in the field of space defence and in goal defence. In addition, I like to work with deflectors and glasses that limit perception in order to make the training forms more varied.
At Goalkeeping Develompent you have already developed some training material and even a software especially for goalkeeper training. What kind of products are in your portfolio and how do you develop and test them?
Our main products in the shop are the software, all offers concerning the Keeper Academy, i.e. goalkeeper training for children and teenagers, our workshop and some interesting training materials, for which we cooperate with different partners.
“The goalkeeper glove is definitely the most important material for the goalkeeper.”
The software is used daily in Hoffenheim by me and my eight colleagues for training planning, training documentation, game documentation and analysis. This allows us to recognize immediately when there is a need for optimization in the software and which ideas could be implemented with new updates. Since the market launch of the software on 01.07.2017, we have carried out numerous updates, so that the software today already has a completely different status than two years ago. This corresponds to our goal of constantly optimizing and improving the software.
While we are on equipment – goalkeeper gloves today are available with optimized foams for all weather conditions and in tight-fitting cuts. To what extent does the choice of the right glove contribute to improving a goalkeeper’s performance?
The goalkeeper glove is definitely the most important material for the goalkeeper. At the end of the day, the glove is one of the deciding factors whether a goalkeeper can hold the ball or how it can be fisted or distracted. The glove represents the first contact to the ball and is therefore extremely important for the goalkeeper! Different weather conditions, irrigated pitches, frequent rain and constantly changing ball models are difficult and constantly changing conditions, so choosing the right glove definitely contributes to a good performance. Even with my TSG professional goalkeepers, I see every day how much importance everyone places on the best quality of their gloves.
In part two of the interview, Michael explains how Oli Baumann reacts to the extraordinary training methods, which goalkeeper-specific data is relevant and how goalkeeping development promotes young talents.