Kasper Schmeichel celebrates for Leicester City FC ()Kasper Schmeichel celebrates for Leicester City FC () © Copyright

Kasper Schmeichel: How to be a Prem-winning keeper

Kasper Schmeichel guarded the sticks for Leicester City’s incredible Premier League victory. He tells us what it takes to go up against the best strikers in the world

Mind over matter

"I think the number one attribute to be a great goalkeeper is that you have to be brave. This doesn’t mean just sticking your head in where it hurts or being prepared to get battered and bruised when you dive for the ball or get hit; being brave means being able to make important decisions in a split second, sticking to them and then bearing the responsibility for them.

"It’s a tough job as it’s a very exposed position. There is nowhere to hide so you have to be able to deal with it all, pick yourself up, pick your team up and push on. If you’re a top goalkeeper at a top club you might only have one save to make in a game, but that save is against the very best scorers in the business so you have to stay sharp."

Outfield attributes

"A lot of the attributes goalkeepers need are similar to those of outfield players. I was a striker for quite a long time until I was about 15 years old and I think it’s important for ’keepers to experience other positions as well so they can get a good understanding of the game from different perspectives. Obviously there are differences but we need to be more flexible, have quick reaction times, and be able to physically take the hits and be a strong presence in the penalty area."

Kasper Schmeichel taking a goal kick for Leicester City FC ()

 

Evolution

"Goalkeeping is a lot different to what it used to be. Nowadays there is much more emphasis on having good feet and being able to deliver the ball and control it. In fact, 80 to 90 per cent of the work we do is done with our feet so it isn’t just about shot stopping; it’s positioning and sweeping up behind the defence and the communication with your players.

"It’s the same with the size of goalkeepers; in England they place a lot of emphasis on height but actually, around Europe, it isn’t such a big issue. Players like Santi Cañizares and Iker Casillas broke the mould as smaller, more agile and quicker goalkeepers, so there are many different types around now and it’s more about having the whole package. Nowadays I look at keepers like Manuel Neuer, Thibaut Courtois and Joe Hart and I try to learn from them.

"I take different parts of their game and try them in training to see if they work for me. I think it’s really important to always be looking at others and seeing what you can do to improve your own game."

Change it up

"If I’m playing on a Saturday, then on the Monday and Tuesday I’ll be doing harder gym sessions, Wednesday will be my rest day and from Thursday and Friday I’ll be getting into the more technical and mental aspects of things. My gym routine is absolutely random. The guy I work with rarely gets me to do the same exercise twice because we want to keep the body guessing so it isn’t relying on muscle memory.

"It isn’t just a case of having an upper body and lower body routine. It’s basically all about explosive starts and a lot of all-body movements. The last thing I did was boxing which worked on my arm strength, reaction and core. Another thing I do is on Thursday evenings, I usually do a yoga session to help with my flexibility, stretching and mental strength too.

"All these different exercises are useful in working out my balance and strength because as goalkeepers we need to get ourselves in difficult positions and fling our bodies in ways that other outfield positions don’t demand."

Kasper Schmeichel punching the ball for Leicester City FC ()

 

Pitch Invasion

"We do lots of drills with our on-field training, it’s all geared towards the way you would do it in a game. When you have lots of keepers at a club, you help each other out and use each other as rebounders and makeshift strikers; if you drop a ball or parry it, they’ll go to score straight away.

"I think it’s really important to have that competitive edge, that it isn’t about just trying to make the  save – they are trying to score because that’s what a striker will do on a Saturday. When situations like that arise in training and you do them repeatedly for a long time, they become instinctive and that will translate into matches. That’s how we improve our technique and can go against the very best opponents – we just repeat hundreds and thousands of ways to catch and parry shots.

"I make a point not to study my opponents before a match. I think it’s really important to rely on my instincts because when you get to the highest level, you’re against strikers who are so good that if you start trying to read their game and guess what they are going to do, they have the ability to change their minds in a split second and make you look silly."

Team spirit

"Team spirit is massive: it’s such an important and underrated part of football. It’s kind of primitive, but things like a bonding session or going out to dinner and drinks can boost morale a lot. In the end, it’s a team sport and it’s so important that everyone is on the same page, working towards the same goals. Going out outside of football and seeing each other in a different light can help massively.

"All of it, believe it or not, translates on to the pitch and helps with things like communication, which is really huge for us goalkeepers. In modern football, there is so much movement off the ball.

"As a goalkeeper you have a good view of what’s going on so it’s important that your team-mates trust you when you tell them where the opposition are, for example, when they have their backs to them sometimes or maybe they’re hanging on their shoulder."

Kasper Schmeichel wears Precision Goalkeeping’s Schmeichology 5 range designed by himself. Follow @PrecisionGK for more information

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