The core of goalkeeping is good positioning – giving yourself the best possibility of stopping a shot or intercepting a cross. And positioning is, ion the end, a simple matter of geometry. Each of the elements of good positioning ties the goalkeeper to the ball and to the goal in the most efficient way possible.


Narrow the angle

Goalkeepers should be constantly pushing to come out further from the goal. Occasionally, a ball will go over your head and into the net, but you will save far more shots that would otherwise find their way into the corner of the net.

Striker vs. goalie  - 1

In the figure above, the striker A1 has two good choices, with the goalie (G) back on the goal line and in the middle of the goal.

The near post has not been closed down, but the far post is open too.

 Striker vs goalie 2

In the second figure, things a re a bit better but not much. The goalie has moved to cover the near post, but that still leaves a big hole at the far post that the goalie simply cannot reach

In the third figure, the goalie has come out to narrow the angle. Now the striker has almost no view of the goal. A tiny sliver of daylight exists at the far post, but that will be hard to hit.

The goalie continues to cover the near post 100% - no daylight there.

So now – in contrast to the previous figures – the striker must go through the goalie, not simply find a spot out of his reach.

 Obviously, if the goalie comes all the way out to the striker, he becomes vulnerable to a juke, a chip, or simply being so close he cannot stop even a soft shot.

So once again, there is a balance of risk and reward – the goalie must come out far enough to effectively narrow the angle, but like a defender, should not jump in and commit.

In fact, the ideal spot is pretty much exactly defined in Fig. 62-3. You want to be as far away from the striker as possible to have a better chance of reacting to shot, but you have to be close enough that the striker has no good angle to shoot past you:

  • far enough out that the open angle for the striker has narrowed to almost nothing
  • no further (unless the striker has lost control of the ball)


Body position and moving your feet

It’s easy to look like a great goalie as you make beautiful swan dives to pick the ball out of the air.

But if you are a great goalie, probably you could just shuffle your feet quickly and move over to grab the ball.

You need to set yourself up so you can move quickly and efficiently. That involves both initial positioning and how you move:

  • Knees always slightly bent, so you have some spring in your legs to move fast
  • On your toes, heel off the ground
  • Hands pointing downward
  • Quick short steps in any direction. As goalie, you don’t have time to developing a nice long loping stride. You need to get there quick! That means explosive acceleration, which means short steps:
    • Forward
    • Backwards
    • Sideways, where your feet should never cross (not efficient). Instead, from a standing start, bring one foot to the other, then move the other out. This crablike shuffle is efficient and allows you to stay balance and ready for a shot.


Making yourself big

When facing a striker one on one, you need to off your goal line to narrow the angle. You also need to keep yourself as “big” as possible.

  • don’t go to ground early – attacker can easily chip over or dribble around you
  • stay low – knees very bent
  • hand down, arms pointed at 45 degrees (that is, just out to the side but not horizontal)
  • stay focused on the ball – wait for mistake then pounce

The point is to make it as hard as possible for the striker in a situation in which he has all the advantages.



Contact: rgaster@north-atlantic.com