Soccer goalkeepers guide to positioning

This article will help you teach your young goalkeepers how to save more shots, give them confidence in their own ability and help them to enjoy their “career” as a shot stopper.

But before we start, I’d like to suggest that you teach all your players how to be a goalkeeper.

For one thing, telling just one of your players that she has to go in goal ignores the fact that you really don’t know who is going to be your best goalkeeper until your players have been playing football for at least three years.

For another, not many children want to play in goal. Most want the glory of scoring goals, not saving them. While I will give you some tips regarding boosting the status of goalkeeping in the next newsletter, you should still rotate the position among all your players – even if it just to how them now tough life can be “between the sticks”!

The importance of correct positioning

It’s important that you spend enough time on this topic. Correct positioning doesn’t come naturally to young goalkeepers and one who hasn’t been told how to position themselves in particular situations will concede avoidable goals. On the other hand, a good sense of positioning makes shot stopping so much easier and sometimes removes the need to make a save at all.

1. Where’s the goal?

Some young goalkeepers will watch what’s going on in front of them. Some will watch the match on the next pitch and some will keep an eye on what their mum and dad are doing. Not many will look over their shoulder when the ball starts coming towards them to make sure they know where the posts are.

Make sure your goalkeeper knows they can’t be in the right position to make a save if they don’t know where their goal is! A occasional quick glance round is all that is required.

2. Getting ready to make a save.

Before starting on positioning, make sure your goalkeeper doesn’t stand like a “rabbit frozen in the headlights” when an attacker is bearing down on them.

When the ball is approaching their goal, they should be on the balls of their feet, knees bent and facing the ball square on with their hands by their sides. This is called the “ready position”.

Tip: You can demonstrate the importance of correct weight distribution and movement very simply.

Ask your players to stand still with their weight on their heels and then ask them to jump as high as they can. They will find it difficult, if not impossible, to get off the ground.

Repeat the exercise while they are bouncing on the balls of their feet and they will see how important it is to keep their weight forward and not stand still.

3. Don’t get stuck on the line.

Another common fault, especially with timid or very young goalkeepers, is to get their feet stuck on the goal line.

This has to be corrected as your goalkeeper can’t possibly save shots directed at either post if they are standing in the middle of the goal with their feet planted on the line.

Tip: tell your goalkeeper to stand in the centre of the penalty area, facing the goal line. You stand on the goal line and ask your goalkeeper: “How big does this goal look?”. Answer: “Pretty big”.

Now move off the line so you are standing about five yards in front of your goalkeeper and ask: “How big does the goal look now?”. Answer: “Smaller”.

Now stand toe to toe with your goalkeeper and ask the same question. You’ll get a different answer.

Your goalkeeper now understands the benefits of not standing on the goal line when an attacker is approaching with the ball.

Warning: while it is important that your goalkeeper moves off the line, there is a danger they could be lobbed if they come out too far, too soon – especially if they are 3ft 6ins and the goal is 7ft high!

4. It’s time to draw the line.

As well as reducing the distance between themselves and the ball, your goalkeepers need to be taught that they need to stand on an imaginary line between the ball and the centre of the goal.

This allows them to cover shots directed at either post.

What to say to your goalkeeper:

“Don’t stand on the line!”

“Look over your shoulder!”

For more soccer coaching tips and products visit Soccer Coaching Club.