Your goalkeeper has saved a goal, he has the ball and should be about to start your next attack but it doesn’t always work that way.
Very often a young, inexperienced goalkeeper will make the wrong decision, throw the ball to a team mate who is surrounded by the opposition forwards or kick the ball straight up in the air.
I’ve even seen a 10-year-old goalkeeper kick the ball back into their own net!
Mistakes, of course, will happen and they are an essential part of the learning process. But you can cut down on the number of avoidable mistakes your goalkeeper makes by spending some time going through distribution methods and decision making with him or her.
Let’s talk about distribution
Do not encourage your goalkeepers to hoof the ball down the field as far as possible, in the vague hope that one of your players will get on the end of it. That should be the last resort, not the first choice.
It’s far better for your goalkeeper to roll, throw or simply pass the ball to a team mate standing relatively close to the goal. But it is important that the receiving player is not under pressure.
As soon as your goalkeeper has the ball, your defenders should be moving into space and be ready to receive a pass. Your midfielders should also be in a position where they can support a defender who receives the ball.
How to roll the ball out
- The leg opposite to rolling hand should be in front of the body.
- Roll the ball like a ten-pin bowl, releasing it at its lowest point. Do not drop it.
- The goalkeeper’s knees and waist have to be bent.
- The rolling motion should be fast and there should be a good follow through.
Rolling or passing the ball out is the most accurate method of distribution.
But if there are no team mates standing close to the goal who are in a position to receive a pass, more distance can be gained by throwing or kicking the ball out.
There are three types of throw your goalkeeper can use: javelin, overhand and sidearm.
For the javelin (or baseball) throw, the ball sits in the palm of the hand and the throw starts with the hand level with the goalkeeper’s cheek and their fingers on the top of the ball. As the goalkeeper steps forward, the ball is thrown out.
A little more distance can be achieved with the sidearm throw. Again, the ball sits in the palm of the hand but this time the throwing arm is stretched back behind the body then brought forward with a slinging action.
The overhand throw is the most difficult to master but it is worth working on as many young goalkeepers can use this technique to throw the ball as far, or further, as they can kick it.
This time, the arm holding the ball is taken straight back with the elbow locked. As the goalkeeper steps forwards, the arm is brought forward (elbow still locked) and brought around in a circle over the head. The ball is released when the arm is at its highest point.
But if it’s not possible to pass, throw or roll the ball out, your goalkeeper needs to know how to kick it out of their hands.
This is often a dangerous moment in youth soccer matches as very often a young goalkeeper will only achieve a partial contact on the ball or miss it altogether. Result? Heart attack for watching coach!
There are two types of kick – the punt and the drop kick.
Most young players find the drop kick easier. This is where the goalkeeper drops the ball and kicks it as it hits the ground. A half volley, if you like. The low trajectory of the drop kick makes it a good technique for kicking into the wind and a drop kick is usually more accurate than a punt.
Although it’s not a very accurate method of distribution, goalkeepers can usually achieve more distance on their kicks with a punt. This is where the goalkeeper holds the ball in both hands, takes a short run and drops the ball directly on to the laces part of the foot. The kicking foot should be pointing at the target and come straight up and through the ball.
Whichever method of distribution is chosen, practice makes perfect. Goalkeepers should be encouraged to practise kicking and throwing as much as possible and they should not get disheartened if, at the beginning, they have little accuracy or distance. Both will come with practice and hard work.
Whatever you do, don’t tell them to “just get rid of it!”. Allow your goalkeeper to decide how to distribute the ball in matches, be patient and accept that mistakes – that often lead directly to the ball hitting the back of your net – will be made in the beginning.