Top tips for goalkeepers


The idea of having the goalkeeper push up to the edge of the penalty area or even the halfway line when their team is attacking is not new or particularly unusual.

Futsal goalkeepers routinely move out their goal area to give their team a numerical advantage and a regular football team goalkeeper often takes free kicks in his own half of the field. Goalkeeping goalies can even be seen in the opposition penalty area when their team has a corner, but only when their team is losing by the odd goal and time is running out.

Why do football goalkeepers leave it so late to move upfield? Because it’s a risky strategy, that’s why.

There is always a chance the goalkeeper won’t be able to get back to her goal in time to protect it if her team loses possession. Even more embarrassing, an alert opposition player with a strong shot could score in an unguarded goal from 30, 40 or even 50 yards away.

But pushing your goalkeeper up out of her penalty area to support an attack is a tactic that can pay off, especially if she is athletic and has an outfield player’s skill set: a good first touch, good “vision” and the ability to find team mates with an accurate pass.


A goalkeeper’s “job description” includes organising the defence at set pieces and coming off her line to claim possession of the ball wherever possible.

To do that, your goalkeeper has to be vocal. A quiet call of “keeper’s” is no good. As soon as the decision is made to come for the ball, you should hear a loud shout of “KEEPER’S”.

When defenders hear this, they know the goalkeeper is coming and they should get out of the way. Conversely, a loud shout of “AWAY” means the goalkeeper is not coming and defenders should deal with the situation.

At set pieces, your goalkeeper should give strong, specific instructions to the rest of the team. A vague shout of “mark up” is unhelpful. “Joe, mark the number 10” is much better.

Defenders should be taught to listen for and obey instructions issued by the goalkeeper and to let her know that they have heard them. A simple wave of the hand or “OK” allows the goalkeeper to quickly move on to organising the rest of the defence.

Quick clearances

When she stops a shot or collects a loose ball, your goalkeeper should immediately try to give her team an advantage with a quick, effective clearance.

She should first look for a team mate in space and within range of a roll or throw out. If there is no one available nearby, your goalkeeper should look upfield to see if any of her team mates are in a “numbers up” situation.

If they are, she should try to kick the ball to them without delay. If a quick roll, throw or kick is not on, your goalkeeper should wait until her team mates have moved to better positions before releasing the ball.

Know the rules

Goalkeepers and goalkeeper coaches need to know all the laws of the game but they need to be particularly familiar with those laws that relate directly to goalkeeping.

Note: the laws below are the laws according to FIFA, the game’s governing body. Your local league’s rules may be different. If in doubt, ask your league for clarification.

Law 4 – The Players’ Equipment

The goalkeeper’s kit must be a different colour to the players on both teams and the referee.

Law 8 – The Start and Restart of Play

It is important to note┬áthat a free kick awarded to the defending team inside it’s own goal area (the six-yard box) is treated like a goal kick: it may be taken from anywhere in the six-yard box.

It’s equally important to note that an indirect free kick awarded to the attacking team in the goal area – for example, if the goalkeeper picks up a deliberate back pass – should be taken from the line of the goal area parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the infringement occurred.

Law 10 – The Method of Scoring

It’s worth making sure your goalkeeper knows that the whole of the ball must cross the line for a goal to be scored.

Law 12 – Fouls and Misconduct

Your goalkeeper must be aware that she cannot:

  • control the ball with her hands for more than six seconds before releasing it.
  • touch the ball again with her hands after she has released it and before it has touched another player.
  • touch the ball with her hands after it has been deliberately kicked to her by a team mate.
  • touch the ball with her hands after she has received it directly from a throw-in taken by a team mate.

Any of these offences will result in an indirect free kick being awarded to the other team.

You should also make it clear to your goalkeeper that it is an offence to play “in a dangerous manner”. So she should take care not to charge wildly at attackers or jump for the ball in a manner that could injure an opponent. Referees usually allow goalkeepers more leeway than outfield players when it comes to Law 12 but they don’t have to.

Law 14 – Penalty Kicks

An easy one this. The defending goalkeeper must remain on her goal line, between the goalposts and facing the kicker until the ball has been kicked.