Category Archives: Shot Stopping

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Body shape is important to make basic saves

At the start of every new Goalkeeper HQ course, we start, or at least touch on the importance of good handling and good footwork. The footwork is to ensure a second barrier of protection. The good footwork we encourage is also to to ensure the goalkeeper has good shape. 

In this footage of the England Women’s goalkeepers training session, the coach also constantly talks about “Shape”

What is good shape?

Good shape is when the following happen;

  • You are catching the ball with your body behind the ball.
  • There is a good second barrier.
  • Shoulders are facing forward.

If the save is slightly off center, the goalkeeper goes to ground in a controlled manner or moves their feet to ensure a balanced upright position after the save.

Notice how the ladies are always going with two hands.

How to get good shape?

Here are some ways to ensure you can save incoming shots with good shape.

  • Eyes on the ball, watching it in the whole way
  • Ensure your handling decisions are correct
  • Be light on your feet and ready to make adjustments with movement of the ball
  • Recognize that the save isn’t over once the ball reaches your hands. Movement of feet or a controlled fall may be needed to keep shoulders facing forward.

The following drill is great for ensuring good body shape.

Server on one side of the poles / cones

  1. Side movement to set.
  2. Shuffle around cone / poles to save.
  3. Focus on body shape once caught the ball.


See an earlier article on being set 

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Luis Robles – Great double save. Lots to admire.

This great double save by Luis Robles from New York Red Bulls has so much to admire.

1st – Observe the set up from the free kick. Luis has to work hard to organize. ( See list of duties for Goalkeepers on set pieces here )

2nd – Great “Imperfect World” save having to deal with a deflection

3rd – Great use of the claw ( the 50/50 technique ) when making impact with the ball at the same time as the forward. The claw is when you change your hand shape to be stronger upon impact.

See different ways to collect the ball here

Here is the same save from behind the goal.

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The new best save of the Women’s World Cup

Last week I posted what I thought was the best save of the Women’s World Cup.

Lydia William’s save against Brazil was fantastic, but I feel it has been eclipsed by Erin McLeod’s top hand save tip that went around the post from a curling shot against England. With the score being 2-1 to England at the time, this save kept her host nation team in the game.

See the save below. Is it better than Lydia’s? ( Which I have posted below Erin’s save )

Here is Lydia William’s save against Brazil ( Below )




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Goalkeeper Williams top hand save image

Australia’s Lydia Williams helps them progress

I’ve just seen the best save of the Women’s World Cup!

In a wet Round of 16 game Lydia Williams of Australia had a very good game had came up with, in my opinion, the save of the tournament so far with a great top hand diving save.

See the save below and the match highlights below that. ( In which I can’t believe the save didn’t make the highlights )


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Buffon Champion’s League save

See below for the save of the game from the Champions League Final.

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The Imperfect World!

Players often ask me what my topic of “The imperfect world” is. 

It’s the fun part of goalkeeping…. making the impossible save when everyone is expecting a goal.

The term comes from one of the topics at the famous “Bob Wilson’s Goalkeeping School” which I attended as a young goalkeeper. It was the topic I enjoyed and thrived in and helped me fall in love with the position and an essential part of the Goalkeeper HQ curriculum.

What is the Imperfect World of Goalkeeping exactly? 

I have broken this goalkeeping theme into a number of topics;

  • Being out of position 
  • Seeing the ball late
  • Deflections
  • Saving whilst on the move ( Not Set ) 
  • The ability to keep the ball out of the net, no matter what!

It is hard to train for these situations as a) they happen so rarely in games and b) much of these saves are down to natural ability.

As coaches, it is important that we provide similar scenario’s so that when the goalkeeper comes across any of the imperfect world topics in a game, they are at least familiar with the process, even if the exact situation cannot be created.

Below is our preview for the Imperfect World curriculum that we run at Goalkeeper HQ, with real life examples from games.

See the (Old) England Goalkeepers warm up for their game against Ireland with an Imperfect World session.

The imperfect world for goalkeepers is covered in one of our spring Academy weeks. For information on venues, days and times check our Registraion Page

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Types of Dive & how to save them title

The types of dive & how to save them

Different diving saves.

1 = Collapsing save

2 = Extended save low

3 = Extended save high.

Different collection techniques.

1 = Catch

2 = Parry to self

3 = Parry

4 = Tip

4b = Tip with top hand  ( With Extended save high only )

Examples of each.

Collapsing Saves 




Top hand save

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Penalty saving methods, tips & techniques for goalkeepers



Goalkeepers should be aware there are two scenarios and methods of saving for penalties.

1 – One off penalty. Given in a game

2 – Penalty Shoot-Outs.

One off penalty

Pre-penalty – Ensure the ball is kicked away by yourself or a teammate after the kick has been given. Plead ignorance if given a talking to by the referee, saying that you didn’t hear the whistle. By having the ball a long way away from the penalty taker, it delays the game thus providing extra time for the penalty taker to think about their kick and for you to get into their head.

Assess the type of player taking the kick – Generally speaking, defenders take fewer risks than forwards and tend to play safe by pushing the ball to the same side as their kicking foot. Tricky, skillful players may try to fool the goalkeeper with a clip down the middle. Left-footed players tend to put the ball in the opposite corner.

Watching the eyes of the kicker – If you can get the ball and hand it to the kicker. Watch them place the ball down. In many instances, the kicker looks to the side where they are going to kick. By being so far off your line, you are also getting a phycological advantage by covering so much of the goal until you are told to go back to your line.

Observe the approach of the kicker – The run-up of the kicker can give some idea of the body position of the kicker and therefore an indication of where the ball is intended to go. See picture ( below )

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 4.54.14 PM

The above tips give the goalkeeper the best chance to anticipate where the ball is going to go and guess the save.

Penalty shoot-outs

As goalkeepers, we must remember that at Penalty shoot-outs, there will be players taking penalties that are not normal penalty takers. They will be nervous, play safe and easier to read.

You can pretty much bet that two of the five penalties will be within a 5yd goal – thus leaving 1.5 yds either side of the goal that you won’t need to go for. With this technique, the goalkeeper can pretty much react to the shot, rather than anticipate. Two saves out of five will make you a hero!

Other techniques to give you an advantage

* Dummy the kicker – Make an exaggerated move to your weaker side as the kicker runs up, hoping that they put to your strong side or make them change their mind last minute.

* Stand, off center of the goal – This messes with their head. If the kicker always kicks to the side that you have made smaller, they may think about changing…… but what if you have left the other side open because that is where you are going to dive? Get in their head!

* Loud, large movements across the goal – Ensure you are set before saving though.

* The delay. Point out that the ball isn’t on the penalty spot, have a coach tape your finger, do your laces up. Time will only make the opposition nervous. Hope Solo famously admitted to using this tactic in the 2015 Women’s World Semi-Final which helped them beat favorites Germany 2-0. ( ABC news report below)

This recent addition to the article is the delay in the extreme, by kicking the ball away as advised in the one-off penalty decision. The video below shows how the goalkeeper accepts a yellow card for gaining the advantage of delaying the kicker.


Lastly, don’t celebrate too early!! There have been cases of the ball hitting a crossbar or even a goalkeeper’s save, and with the goalkeeper still celebrating at a victorious penalty shoot-out, the ball has spun into the goal.



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McGregor of Hull City – Catch, Tip or Parry?

Allan McGregor of Hull City made the mistake of not clearing his original good save which led to the floodgates opening for West Ham. The mistake lead to another 2 goals going in.

See the video here.

See my notes on goalkeepers deciding to catch, tip or parry.

Also on recovery saves

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