Is Height Important? - The Ape Index
Is height an important physical trait for a goalkeeper? The short answer (no pun
intended) is... yes
height can be an important trait for a goalkeeper. It will almost always be an advantage
to be taller, rather then shorter.
Having said that, being shorter doesn't necessarily mean you can't be a great goalkeeper.
There are many other factors that need to be taken into consideration. Technique,
timing, speed, and jumping ability are also key attributes of a great goalkeeper.
There is also one other physical trait that is rarely taken into consideration when
evaluating a goalkeepers potential... arm span. Having longer arms can be just as
much of an advantage as being taller.
It is ok to be short, as long as you have long arms. This is what is often referred
to as having a higher 'Ape Index'. The 'Ape index' is basically the ratio of your
arm apan compared to your height. The average persons 'Ape Index' is roughly equal
to 1. Meaning that their arm span is almost exactly equal to their height.
Some people actually have an 'Ape Index' that is greater than 1. Meaning their arm
span length is greater then their height.
One of the highest rated goalkeepers in
recent history, Iker Casillas, is only 6'0 ft tall (some say he is even shorter
then that). This is considered to
be very short for a professional goalkeeper in todays game. Most professional goalkeepers
range anywhere from 6'2 - 6'6 on average.
What Casillas lacks in height, he more then makes up for with positioning, timing,
jumping ability and... yes he
has a high 'Ape Index'!!! His arm span is actually several inches greater then his
Another highly rated professional goalkeeper was former Mexican national team member
Campos. He was considered diminutive by goalkeeper standards at a whopping 5'7 ft.
What did Campos and Casillas have in common? Both are exceptionally athletic, have
excellent timing and positional sense, and yes Campos also has a higher then average
'Ape Index'. By normal standards his arms are actually incredibly long.
It is time to stop evaluatiing the potential ability of our goalkeepers based on
height alone. We need to look at the whole picture and what is actually important...
how far can the goalkeeper reach? That will mainly be a combination of height, arm
span and jumping ability.
Want to calculate your own 'Ape Index'? Check out this site - Calculate Your Ape Index