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23 January 2015

UEFA Pro Thesis Review: "The Goalkeeper and His Psychology" by Fabrizio Lorieri

Image credit:
Old School Panini.
Fabrizio Lorieri.


Fabrizio Lorieri, the goalkeepers' coach for U.S. Sassuolo in the Italian Serie A, has chosen a rare topic for his UEFA Pro thesis: the psychological aspect of goalkeeping.

Discussion Items

1. Thesis Overview
2. Writing Style
3. Images and Diagrams
4. My Ratings
5. Link to the Italian Federation source document.

"The Goalkeeper and His Psychology"

by Fabrizio Lorieri

UEFA Pro Corso Master 2006/2007
Coverciano, Italy

Italian managerial candidates for a UEFA Pro coaching license present a thesis to their colleagues and teachers at the Italian Federation (FIGC) site in Coverciano, Italy. This oral discussion finalizes a three-part training process that currently lasts over nine months according to the FIGC. You may click the link above to download a PDF file to view the original in Italian. 

Lorieri in action for Torino versus Fiorentina and
Roberto Baggio in 1987.

1. Thesis Overview

Fabrizio Lorieri was born in Massa, Tuscany, in 1964 and came up through the Internazionale youth ranks. A much-traveled player, he was forced to leave Inter to seek playing time elsewhere due to a certain Walter Zenga.

Lorieri made his professional debut in 1981 for Sangiovanese. He had 192 appearances in the Serie A for Ascoli, Genoa, Lecce, Inter and Roma, respectively along with 139 Serie B appearances before his retirement in 2005 according to He was not capped by the senior level Azzurri although won the UEFA U-21 championship in 1986 with the Azzurrini.

Mister Lorieri is the current goalkeepers' coach for Sassuolo who have become one of the revelations of Italian football under manager Eusebio Di Francesco.

Psychological Isolation

This intriguing thesis was 33 pages in length and divided into six sections. I was attracted to this particular thesis since we rarely read about this role from the protagonist's perspective. The author's introduction of a psychological element, specifically, psychological isolation, was also appealing.

I will translate a few key excerpts from various sections in this educational thesis. Let's take a look at what Fabrizio Lorieri had to say.


Training the goalkeepers at Lecce in 2010.

"The first thing I used to think about (before playing games with his friends) was 'to build' the goal with whatever was available at that time: two rocks, two jackets, two tree branches, two scarves. In other words, anything that could be carried away by hand. What followed, without anyone discussing it, was that I would position myself between the sticks becoming for everyone, the GOALKEEPER."

Chapter 1. The Football Goalkeeper

"The keeper, in fact, with respect to his other teammates, develops completely different abilities that require special training sessions. And almost obligatory, a specialized coach dedicated to his performance."

"The modern keeper must be cold-blooded, attentive, concentrated in every situation and be ready to be called upon just in case by his teammates. He must be able to play with his feet, to come out either from his line or outside of the box itself, and be ready to restart the play to create a counterattack. He's always concentrated on a tactical level and ready to call out collective defensive movements. For example, in the application of the offside's trap."

"With the term cold-blooded, I mean to say that the keeper must be ready to deal with a lot of instantaneous information and organize equally important stimuli sequentially in a very quick instant."

Chapter 2: The Psychology of a Keeper

"For a football keeper, the capacity of concentration is surely the primary ability... The capacity always to maintain an elevated level of concentration is therefore a fundamental element to evaluate a goalkeeper. Frequently in my opinion, it's the discriminating factor that crosses the borderline between a 'normal' keeper and an excellent interpreter of the role."

"It seems like a paradox, but in modern football, you shouldn't ever think right away about a conceded goal. Even if, above all, in the case where it was caused by your own clear mistake."

"The objective of the keeper is one of 'feeling' an utmost self-confidence without minimally affecting himself in the view of future games."

"The pitch must almost remain an inviolable kingdom which is absolutely impenetrable to 'bad thoughts' that can reduce the self-esteem of your own technical abilities."

"The survey showed that for a great majority of respondents, maintaining one's concentration for the duration of a match represented the greatest difficulty. (1) Precisely because the lack of continual stressors for the entire 90 minutes made the keeper fall into a state of psychological isolation...

In these above cited situations of psychological isolation, the keeper is often led to think about things that have nothing to do with the game at hand. He can think about his wife, girlfriend, other friends, or 'lose himself' in the choreography (tifo displays) and in the chants from the fans."

Translator's Note

(1) The author cited a 2006 study that was presented by two psychologists at the FIGC who interviewed 30 professional goalkeepers from Serie A to Serie C2, respectively. The study was from a magazine called L'allentatore (September/October 2006), and entitled, "The goalkeepers speak out." 

Chapter 3: Relational Problems

"The ideal behavior of a keeper should be one of trying to instill security in his own teammates also beyond the playing field. Perhaps also accepting the assumption of responsibility to communicate collective decisions of the team to his manager and club."

"A coach should never minimize the confidence of his first-choice keeper and renew his respect even during the times of a drop in form. And above all, when he commits serious and sensational errors."

"Frequently, when a reserve keeper feels dissatisfied with his role, he can put into play a few strategies during the week to reduce the confidence of his teammate. And to 'earn points' in the eyes of the manager and rest of the team."

"The presence of the goalkeepers' coach is decisive. Beyond being the man who takes care of the technical and physical preparation of the keeper, he is the only one, together with the back-up, to truly understand the starter's performance in a comprehensive fashion. By analyzing his state of mind, eventual mistakes and situations that have been presented."

"In my opinion, the manager should never intervene about the type of specific training and/or to highlight technical errors without the endorsement of the goalkeepers' coach."

Chapter 4: Behavioral Problems

"For example, under the sexual profile, during the first part of my career, I felt it was damaging for my performance to have sexual relations after Thursday night. And each time I violated this rule, I relived it 'mentally' before the start of the game."

"You have to seek a type of internal serenity that helps you overcome eventual errors and to support adverse decisions of the referee. You should never get discouraged during a game. This serenity, that I've called 'concentrated tranquility' in this thesis, will also be used not to fall into provocations from rival attackers. And not to be distracted by the behavior of fans and from the benches."

"I'm firmly convinced that the manager should only make minor comments on the goalkeeper's performance at the half-time break (without absolutely minimizing his self-esteem), but never absolutely blame him for conceding a goal."

Chapter 5: Environmental Influences

"When I played, I didn't give too much weight to the fact that I was preparing to go out onto the pitch in a stadium where I had committed a 'howler' or where we had lost important matches. For me, the scenic effect offered by the public from the stands was more important. In fact, my positive psychological state was directly proportional to the number of spectators and the intensity of support they offered."

"From a technical point of view in the last few years, the work of a keeper has been made notably more difficult due to the introduction of new balls. They are lighter and make the velocity of a shot 'jump up and down' in an impressive manner by changing their trajectory. Which makes the attempts on goal by attackers even more dangerous and unpredictable." 

"In my opinion, a keeper who fails to take care of his gloves doesn't put in the necessary passion in the execution of his role. And therefore, should be redirected, 'straightened out,' actually, as soon as possible."

"Significant cold weather can also put a keeper in a condition of isolation similar to one that occurs when his team is constantly on attack. For this reason in these weather conditions, it would be necessary that a keeper continually carry out warm-up exercises both to maintain an elevated muscular tension and the physical capacity not to allow his attention span to drop in an exponential manner."

Chapter 6: Special Situations of Play

"There are three substantial situations:

a) Set pieces
b) Penalty kicks
c) Coming off your line

Regarding set pieces, free kicks from just outside of the box represent an elevated instant of mental effort for the keeper who has the complete responsibility to organize the necessary countermeasures to defend the goal."

"The spot kick, and for the rest of the team, is the most feared moment but for the keeper, one of the few times of a clear psychological advantage."

"Coming off of your line high (going out to the limits of the box), in my way of seeing things, is the most difficult time at a mental level for a keeper. In fact, in this situation of play contribute some of the factors that can destabilize the security of the keeper such as:

a) The absence of reference points to the goal.
b) The possibility to make a mistake.
c) The fear of physical contact with teammates and opponents."


"At the end of my thesis, I can surely affirm that the psychological aspect is fundamental to approach the goalkeeper's role. I want to highlight, however, that the considerations I've brought forth in this thesis and suggestions I have proposed are exclusively detailed from my own experience. First as a goalkeeper and now as a coach."

"I don't want to state that every team should match up a psychologist to their own keepers; however, I surely want to stress that those who deal with keepers (managers and coaches) ought to take into account, in an elevated manner, the mental aspects tied to this role. Proposing perhaps exercises and training sessions also based upon these aspects."


He listed eight reference sources.

2. Writing Style

Image credit: U.S. Sassuolo.
Lorieri fell in love with the goalkeeping position as a child and his infectious fascination for the position is readily seen in his writing. In this well-organized document, he writes in a clear and concise style that is educational, uplifting and provides keen insights. His level of detail went as far down to the amount of air that should be pumped into match balls before games.

The author cited scientific research pertinent to the psychological aspect of his profession which lends additional credibility to his theories. The discussion about the bond between a goalkeepers' coach and his players, along with interactions concerning a club's manager, was enlightening. The latter topic is one that we rarely see analyzed in great detail.

Lorieri explained the intricate balance, and at times, power struggle, between the manager and his keepers' coach. The author stressed that while the manager is responsible for the entire club, a line is drawn in the sand with regards to the keepers that should not be crossed.

3. Images and Diagrams

There was only one image in this thesis. It was a cartoon image of a goalkeeper with his coach.

4. My Ratings

Photo credit:
Coaching education: 9/10
Editorial organization: 8/10
Unique theme: 10/10
Writing style: 8/10
Overall: 35/40 = Five Stars.

Fabrizio Lorieri has written an important thesis on a specialty area of world football. He took a detailed look at the psychological, physical and environmental components in the craft of goalkeeping. Observances from his own playing career, the fundamental importance that a goalkeepers bring to their teams, why they require a positional coach and the special relationship of the "Keepers Union" make this thesis a seminal body of research.

5. Link to the Italian Federation source document:


Tesi corso Master per allenatori di prima categoria Uefa Pro
Corso Master 2006/2007Autore/i: Fabrizio Lorieri

Related Italian Federation Thesis Translations and Reviews

Translated excerpts and reviews from FIGC (Italian Federation) UEFA Pro License Coaching Theses. 
Image credit: F.I.G.C.
Soccer Translator

Steve Amoia is a freelance writer and translator from Washington, D.C. He is the publisher of World Football Commentaries since 2006 and The Soccer Translator since 2008. You can follow Steve @worldfootballcm on Twitter.

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