Category Archives: Distribution

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The three things college coaches are looking for from prospective new goalkeepers

Throughout the last few months, I have been looking through a number of goalkeeping recruitment videos in the hope to find a goalkeeper for the Division 1 college I am currently working for. I have in earlier posts, talked about what makes a good goalkeeper recruitment video, but what is it that a goalkeeper coach, assistant coach and head coach are all looking for from prospective new goalkeepers?

A physical ability to keep the ball out of the net

If you are going to be on the squad of a college level team, you have to be good enough to do the job of your position. For Goalkeepers, the most obvious job is to keep the ball out of the back of the net. The goalkeeper should show evidence of the ability to keep the ball out of the net from a variety of scenarios. Shot stopping has a number of sub-topics which need to be shown. Low shots, high shots, point blank saves, angled shots, shots to the left and shots to the right are examples. A proof also that the goalkeeper can be brave by diving at feet and calculated by collecting a variety of different crosses. If a goalkeeper can make these saves, you will gain attention.

Show areas that you can still improve. That you have not reached your ceiling.

College coaches are not expecting goalkeepers to be the finished article. You will hopefully have four years to improve. What is the difference between showing you have not yet reached a ceiling and actually being poor? The key is in the consistency. If the goalkeeper has proved that they can keep the ball out of the net as mentioned above, the coaches will ask for full game footage. In this game footage, coaches will be looking to see if there are any common trends that may raise a red flag. Here are some examples:

  • Inability to dive to one side.
  • Poor goal kicks, distance wise.
  • If any height concerns affect collection of crosses or ability to command the box.
  • Lack of bravery in traffic
  • Goalkeeper not coming off line

Things that can be helped improve.

  • Accuracy of kicking
  • Turning tips around posts into catches
  • Turning punches from crosses into catches
  • Tempo of the game
  • Improved starting position

It is also important for any potential goalkeeper to know that they are not the finished article and are willing to take on board information from any / all of the coaches

Provide evidence of quality distribution.

This is the one thing that players / parents leave out of recruitment videos, but is one of the most important for coaches looking at potential goalkeepers. The goalkeepers will be working in a group of 3 or 4 throughout the year. More often than not there will be scenarios in practice where quality service is required. Whether you work in pairs or as a group including the goalkeeper coach, all goalkeepers need to be consistent with quality service. 

Here are some examples:

  • Volleys / half volleys to partner
  • Shots on target from angled positions
  • To provide different speeds on shots in order to work, yet not kill the goalkeeper.
  • Ability to cross a ball consistently
  • Quick footwork for rondo or small sided games with outfield players.
  • Ability to hit a target area for a restart in a phase of play

If a prospective goalkeeper can not achieve the required service on a consistent basis for scenarios mentioned above, the other goalkeepers, the goalkeeping coach and the head coach will get frustrated. It is one thing if you, as a goalkeeper is not the best, but you soon fall out of favor if you are stopping others from becoming the best they can be due to your lack of quality service.

Here are some action points:

  1. Ensure you are starting a library of different saves for highlights
  2. Have a number of full games ready to show if needed
  3. Keep working on distribution and ability to serve

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Don’t abuse the leniency of “The 6 second rule”

So after what was meant to be a quick comment on the November incident in which Liverpool Goalkeeper, Simon Mignolet got penalized for holding on to the ball too long in what is known as “The six second rule” – I have found myself full of information about changes to the rules in the goalkeeper’s possession. Having played through many of these changes which took place in the late 80’s and early 90’s I thought it interesting to list them here.

The six second rule came as an amendment to FIFA’s Law 12 back in 1998, which states that “a goalkeeper is not permitted to keep control of the ball in his hands for more than six seconds.

This rule was to stop the goalkeeper, who has the privilege of handling and holding the ball to delay the game and waste time for the advantage of his or her own team.

See what got Simon Mignolet punished. ( below )


Almost all associations agree that the rule was not meant to be strictly reinforced, and as long as the referee deems that the goalkeeper is making a sincere effort to release the ball, there is no need to strictly enforce the 6 second rule.

Some notes for goalkeepers.

  1. Possession refers to holding the ball in the hands.  If a keeper chooses to put the ball down on the ground and kick or dribble it they can take all day, as long as they don’t pick it up again.
  2. The six seconds are to be counted only after the goalkeeper is fully in control of the ball. That is after he/she gathers themselves, gets up and begins to look for a teammate to play it to
  3. As noted by US Soccer, Law 12.8 “Before penalizing a goalkeeper for violating this time limit, the referee should warn the goalkeeper about such actions and then should penalize the violation only if the goalkeeper continues to waste time or commits a comparable infringement again later in the match.”


As you can see from the above video, it’s only when you abuse the rule ( Mignolet takes some 22 seconds ) that you get penalized. As the goalkeeper, you will be the one to blame as there are so many distribution options….. even if you drop the ball on the floor and distribute with feet.

The result in this game and also in the 2012 Olympics USA v Canada which Erin Mcleod finally gets penalized after her 3rd lengthy delay, is in indirect free kick and a goal against.

How can we combat this?

1 ) Speak with your coach about the game tactics. Long or short distribution?

2) Ensure your team mates are aware of the plan and that they immediately get into an open space when you receive the ball

3) Increase your range of good distribution

4) Be comfortable with the ball at your feet so you can drop the ball and play if necessary.

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Guzan’s bid for extra inches costs USMNT a Gold Cup Final appearance

August 2015.

There has been a plethora of soccer this summer, and straight after the Women’s World Cup was the Gold Cup which unfortunately the USMNT lost in the Semi Final. The winning goal came from a situation that all us goalkeepers should be aware of as Brad Guzan stepped outside of his penalty box whilst throwing the ball out – The resulting free-kick was scored.

See Guzan’s throw below, with the match highlights below that.

This season, I also had one of my goalkeepers also get penalized for handball whilst punting close to the line. My advise – It’s not worth risking the extra couple of inches as Brad Guzan saw, the reward is far less than the potential risk – In his case a place in the Gold Cup Final. ( 2015 ) 

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Breaking down the Courtois back pass mistake.

For those that didn’t see…….

Here is a break down of Courtois’ performance. As you will see he generally had  a very good performance.

I will be discussing the mistake made on 3 minutes & 45 seconds… the mistake that unfortunately for goalkeepers is the thing that people remember, rather than the saves.

So…. should the defender have played the ball back? Should Courtois have cleared it first time?

Here is my response to the above questions I had on the goal, and I highlight the situation when the ball is behind the defense and communication is needed by the goalkeeper…

What to say when the ball is either in the air of behind defense.

 1 – Keeper’s coming! : You are coming to collect ( either inside or outside the area ). Note that a call of just “Keepers” may lead to confusion.

2 – Knock it back / Head it back : It’s keepers ball, but needs a player to help it on to you. As per the back pass information, you should provide an audio and a visual of where you want the ball played. Goalkeepers should not be requesting the ball back if the ball is in the area. ( Too risky plus you should have already come to collect )

3a – Away : You can’t deal with it, but hopefully someone else can. If the opposition are closing down on your defender and a bouncing ball means that a pass back would cause more trouble then this should be the call. If the ball is running into the penalty box and you have not collected, the call should also be away.
3b – Turn outside : No need to knock it back, turn so you can set up an attack.

“:You are correct Pat as highlighted…… ball behind the defense. You should not get a back pass once the ball is in the box. The reason is highlighted in this situation because as a goalkeeper, you don’t have enough time to react.”
Things to observe.
1 – The forward was clever and cut across the outside….. so in the short time Courtois had to react, he moved the ball inside
2 – Don’t forget that Courtois is left footed, so apart from the above, he felt more comfortable going to his left foot.
The other thing to consider is the tempo of the game……Chelsea were 2-0 up, had just let in a goal and Hull had momentum. It needed safety…… instead, the score was 2-2.
The goal was a combination of 1) Wrong decision to play back 2) Good play by the forward 3) Poor selection of back pass execution by Courtois.

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Controlling the tempo of the game with Goal Kicks

With the advent of the 6 second rule when in possession, the goal kick provides the only opportunity we have to speed up or slow down the game.

Your desire to do each will depend on the situation.

  • Current score,
  • Number of players on your team,
  • Conditions at the time,
  • How long is left.

I just wanted to show this clip from a recent US Development Academy game, whereby leading by one goal and under a bit of pressure with 5 minutes to go before the end of the game, the goalkeeper slows the game and elects to go long with the goal kick, despite the fact that the teams philosophy is to play short.


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Ten tips for goalkeepers to start the season

JavilinI thought I would post some hints & tips that I have given my Goalkeepers throughout the years.

1 – Have gloves that fit you correctly.

More than any lack of grip due to the foam latex being worn, it is the size of the gloves that often lead to poor handling. Too small and the hand is restricted …. unable to get a grip around the ball.
Too large and the excess material gets in the way of getting a good feel for the ball.

Purchase L1 Goalkeeper Gloves here

2 – Have water in a squeezey bottle or spray bottle.

This allows for quick access to keep gloves wet and also to keep mouth moist during training and games in which you will be shouting commands. See my post on benefits of the squeezy bottle.

3 – Ensure boots are the correct size, they are done up tightly and laces do not come undone during games or practice.

4 – Speak to your coach about preferred distribution techniques.

Some coaches prefer that the goalkeeper roll to feet, others would rather clear the lines. Much also depends on current result, time in the game and confidence of players on the field….. and of course the consistency in quality of your various distributions.

5 – Keep up to date with an archive of coaching notes. Many coaching notes can be found on this blog at 

6 – Have tape to keep shinguards in place.

This prevents the shin guards sliding down the leg and getting in the way when making kicks. The tape should also be used to keep socks up. Constantly pulling up socks and adjusting shin guards is not only a distraction, but causes the latex on the gloves to become worn. You can purchase electrical tape in the “Products” page. Another option is the protective sock by…. not only do they provide protection to the lower leg, they allow you to slip your shinguard in. See the product here and don’t forget you can get 20% off a product by typing “Leon” in the coupon code at checkout.

7 – See a chiropractor.

Goalkeepers are renowned for having poor posture. Constantly bending down and being in the “Set” positon leads to hunched shoulders. This, along with the constant bashing our bodies take by diving on the floor lead to sublaxation of the spine, which of course protects the nervous system. Chiropractors often offer a free assessment.

8 – Consider your diet.

Soda should be a “No No”. Be aware of sugars in other drinks. Candy & Chips to a minimum. See my post on what happen’s to your body after drinking a coke. Keep to foods with whole ingredients, rather than processed.

Diet is a difficult thing to control as a child and parents often make decisions based on cost, time available to prepare, and family taste. Every family will have different pressures and each individual has different things work to help them create muscle whist reducing fat.

9 – Know your warm up routine.

See the post on Goalkeeper Warm up HERE

10 – Practice, Practice & Practice.

It takes some 10,000 hours to be a master of a skill. Ensure you are are the best at your strengths, and that you work on your weaknesses.

Bonus – If you feel you have not done as much as you should have in the run up to the season, see my post on the 80/20 guide to starting the season… a way to fake your way to excellence at the start of the season!

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Goalie Wars – Great fun & Great practice for shot stopping, distribution & more.

I organized a Goalie Wars tournament over the Summer of 2013. Open to both goalkeepers and outfield players, this fast exciting game with goals only yards apart provided excitement to all.

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Goalkeeper’s distribution from hands

The goalkeeper is the last line of defense, but also the first line of attack.  ( Hence the name of the Goalkeeping glove, L1 )

The goalkeeper, through distribution, can dictate the tempo of the game

Distribution accounts for for than 60% of goalkeepers role. *

Distribution from hands accounts for around 16% of distribution *


Used for short distances. Must have some zip to it to avoid interceptions, but not bouncing as this is difficult for your outfield players to control.


Used for slightly longer distances. This throw is designed with quickness in mind. Having made a catch, the javelin throw is used to set up a counter attack. Called Javelin as the bent arm action resembles throwing a Javelin. A low stance and a flick of the wrist creating spin on the ball helps reduce a bounce which is then difficult for players to control.


Can be used in two ways

1 – Up and over opposition players that have committed forward

2 – Fast distribution to a player that is quite a distance away

As with other methods, this throw must be low and fast with minimal bounce.

This video shows Tim Howard using an overarm throw to set up Landon Donovan’s World Cup Goal


More examples of overarm throws:



All methods of distribution need the following three things from the goalkeeper.

  • Decision of distribution
  • Communication to give an instruction
  • Support by following the ball

I will not be coaching this bizarre yet effective throwing technique shown here

* Based on English FA study of Women’s Euro Championship
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Goalkeeper Goal kick

Back Pass – Facts

The goalkeeper is the last line of defense, but also the first line of attack. (Hence the name of the goalkeeping gloves L1)

The goalkeeper, through distribution can dictate the tempo of the game

Distribution accounts for for than 60% of goalkeepers role. *

Distribution from feet accounts for around 32% of distribution *

Goalkeepers use of possession should compliment the team’s strategy & system of play.

The Goalkeeper should be a soccer player first and have in addition, the knowledge and ability to play in goal.

That fact, as well as the fact that 71% of a goalkeeper’s distribution in a game do not involve the hands requires the goalkeeper to be competent with the ball at their feet and the back pass situation.

With good vertical play and a confidence to play with feet outside the area, the goalkeeper’s position can lead to an extra player advantage on the field.

The best example of a modern day goalkeeper with this trait is Manuel Neuer.

See related articles

Breaking down the Courtois back pass mistake

The back pass

The importance of a good first touch from a backpass

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Goalkeeper goal kick

Goalkeepers kicking balls from the floor

ImageIt is important that you, as a goalkeeper are an integral part of the game. Taking Goal Kicks and Free Kicks in your third of the field is part of that. There is nothing worse than having very little to do in the game, and then a shot goes wide where you chase after the ball and then have an outfield player take the kicks.

It is embarrassing as you are not a ball boy or ball girl. It shows a lack of ability to your own team and the other team, and also burdens the team by having one less player on the field to receive the kick.

It is important that you get good enough to take your own kicks to avoid the fore mentioned and to help with your confidence, knowing that you are an integral part of the team.

If your kicks are not good, it is probably due to one of three main areas.

1 – The plant foot

2 – Shoulders

3 – Follow through.


Should not be in front of the ball ( As this results in kicking the top of the ball )

Should not be too close to the ball ( As this results in hooking the ball with the kicking foot )

Bend plant foot leg to allow the instep of the kicking foot to get under the ball


Approach in the run up should allow for shoulders to be straight and also as you kick the ball. The approach should not be too fast as to lose good technique.


The speed of the kicking leg is vital to get distance.

Follow through should be straight, rather than twisting or hopping.

See a pro goalkeeper take a kick frame by frame here.

Related articles

Dealing with the back pass

Back pass facts

The importance of a good first touch from a back pass

Reviewing Courtois’ backpass mistake

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