Category Archives: Winning the ball

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The goalkeeper as the aggressor

Following on from the last post named “Goalkeepers should Kill or be Killed” I thought I would share some footage of goalkeepers as the aggressor. Examples I feel that takes the kill or be killed too far.


This first video shows a goalkeeper coming out feet first to a player after his mistake left the ball loose on the edge of the box.


Pine Forest goalkeeper Cassie Sturtz has been banned for two matches after committing a brutal foul in the closing stages of her side’s 4-1 defeat to Pinecrest in a women’s high school game in North Carolina.

The incident happened towards the end of the match, which brought an end to Pine Forest’s previously unbeaten record.

Pinecrest already led by three when Riley Barrett was played in on goal in search of a fifth. The linesman’s flag was raised to signal offside, but that didn’t stop Sturtz from rushing out of her goal and launching into a dangerous head-high tackle.



In this clip, the Algerian Goalkeeper gets mad at a little kick from the forward and lets his frustrations get the better of him.


This is my absolute favorite. Goalkeeper Glenn Verbauwhede uses the front smother to great effect to be the aggressor. I love the confidence as he encourages the forward to come towards him before going head first. I love how he some how tricks the referee into giving the opposition player a yellow card. I’m literally laughing out loud as I watch this again.

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Goalkeepers should kill or be killed

Yes – This is a dramatic headline, but with four goalkeepers from this goalkeeping community getting injured this past weekend, I feel compelled to provide information that will help reduce risks.

No way am I endorsing your players / children or yourself to go out and deliberately hurt the opposition – The phrase is about your mental attitude to getting the ball as I have found from experience that players without the correct technique, attitude or confidence to get to the ball first, it results in injuries to the goalkeeper.

I am passionate about this as the first GK I trained to play pro. He played 13 minutes for Arsenal’s youth team before being stretchered off because after he went for a ball half hearted and ended up breaking his jaw! He did not play for them again.

Here are the three elements again:

  • Correct technique.
  • Positive attitude – A belief that you will get to the ball first.
  • Confidence that if you do get a knock, that you will be fine.

Correct technique.

Bouncing ball – lead with your shoulder. Keep facing forward and don’t be tempted to turn your body or spin to avoid getting hit. It is essential that you follow through with your momentum. See the first save in the video below.

High balls – Ensure knee is up ( And correct knee at that ) . The knee up serves three purposes. 1) Extra lift 2) Protection from oncoming players 3) Provide space for you to catch the ball cleanly.

You should always try to be coming forward to collect a high balls.

There has been a trend of late to have the goalkeeper land with both feet – I feel this reduces the amount of time the goalkeeper can keep their knee up in a protective manner.Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 6.33.05 PM

See photo ( right )  of good technique when collecting a high ball.







Low balls – Dive at feet, but ensure you are low with head behind arms….. with arms / hands making first contact with ball.

To get low you have to ensure you are not too close to the ball and that you can bend your nearest leg to get a good low stance.


Examples of poor practice:

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Head first!!




Feet first


Feet first! ( leaves body open for impact )




2014-10-25 21.48.33


Not having head behind arms.

Landing on elbow leaves body higher and more exposed.

Not having top knee come up to chest.

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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 art of the sweeper keeper

I found this great video of Manuel Neuer.

I’ll let the great man show you how it is done.

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Five ways of collecting a through ball into the box

The goalkeeper needs to assess many things when the ball is played through and into the box. Often it is behind the defense so communication is needed, but off the top of my head these other factors come into play.
1. Condition of field ( greasy or dry )
2. Speed of opposition and your own players

Here are some scenarios that make sense of some decision making.

65% – 35% in favor of the goalkeeper.
Easiest save to make is the scooped pick up. Lead foot must be next to the ball. Ensure you lead with your shoulder, have both hands behind the ball ( ready to scoop the ball up ). Bring the ball in and be ready to distribute early.


60% – 40% in favor of the goalkeeper.
The dive at feet technique. First contact is hands to ball, ensure a low trajectory of dive by bending nearest knee and make sure you are not too close to the ball when you dive.
Hands should be one behind and one on top of the ball. Complete the save by bringing the ball in, tucking your head in and bringing your top knee up to protect any vulnerable areas.


50% – 50% saves.
This is when the goalkeeper makes contact with the ball the same time as the opposing player gets a foot to the ball.
Goalkeeper’s hand shapes change to create a claw with arms straight for stability. Wrists should be locked too. The claw is to ensure both hands are behind the ball and that with contact the loose ball rolls down the goalkeepers body to safety.

40% – 60% in favor of the opposition.
Brave goalkeepers should still be coming for these balls with the belief that they can get there. Don’t forget the goalkeeper should be one of the fastest players on the team. If the goalkeeper does not quite get there in time, he or she will be required to make a point blank save. This is where the ball hits the goalkeeper at close range. This point blank save may be made with the goalkeeper committed to the dive, with the goalkeeper in the gate position or even in a starfish position. All methods should be with the aim of making yourself big and blocking the path of the ball.

35% – 65% in favor of the opposition.
This is where you have probably made the wrong choice to come to the ball and are committed. The gate position has to be applied with the aim of delaying the opponent until a defender can get back. The first defender’s job may be to cover you in goal.
The five S’s of defending can be applied here.
1 – Shut down
2 – Slow down
3 – Sit down ( into the gate position )
4 – Stay down and wait for the mistake
5 – Steal the ball

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Balls behind the defense

One of the most common plays in youth soccer is the through ball which, if the goalkeeper is not Imageswitched on can prove dangerous. As a goalkeeper, you are responsible for guiding your team. You have the privilege of seeing the whole field and should see the opposition set up their attacking play. It is your responsibility to share what you see.

Goalkeepers should recognize the typical method of the “Up, back and through” or when a player is ready to do a large kick over the top so that they can take control when the ball is over or behind the defense. An appropriate advanced starting position will help you to win the race to win the ball if necessary.

Whilst constant communication of various types should be the norm, I see three main times when an instruction is vital.
1) When the ball is in the air
2) When the ball is has gone behind the defense and they are now facing you – the goalkeeper.

3) During set pieces

I am concentrating on the first two.

The call from the goalkeeper must be early. The purpose of calling is to give information in time for effective action to be taken. Late calls do not permit effective action.

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.

Here is one example of a situation where good communication allows the goalkeeper to receive.

Lack of communication causes confusion HERE
Example of a call ” Keepers coming – Let it run

Example of through ball where Keeper has to come HERE

( defenders after hearing “Keepers coming” should be screening the forwards and be ready for rebound.) Example of through ball where keeper collects. HERE
Example of when “Away” would be appropriate. HERE

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Goalkeeper getting to ball first

Goalkeeper getting to the ball first

The ability to deal with balls played into your 6yd box is crucial as that area is so close to the goal.

The area up to the 6yd box and in between each post is the goalkeepers to claim – Even when dealing with traffic in that area.

Above is a video of the chaos that will ensue if the goalkeeper does not take control.

Here are some coaching points to help you get to the ball first.

  • Starting Position
  • Eyes on ball
  • Assess the ball and get in line
  • A Call of “Keeper’”
  • Take the ball at earliest point

The above coaching points are seen in the video below.

If the area is congested and you can not get the perfect High ball take off, you may have to take off with two feet in order to get as high as possible. As in the video below.


There are two versions of getting to the ball first.

1 – Ball in air ( Decision to catch or punch )


2 – Ball on ground ( Decision to scoop and lead with shoulder or dive at feet ) Both examples shown in the video below.

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De Gea mistake

De Gea – Man of the Match villain

I just watched a rather entertaining Europa League game between Manchester United and Athletic Club Bilao.

The spanish club came at United with an intensity and if it were not for a number of great saves by De Gea they would have won by more than the 3-2 margin.
The Manchester United goalkeeper’s form has been much improved since his return to the team after being dropped for four games in January. This game he pulled off a number of saves as the Spanish bombardment came. After pulling off a cracking low save prior to Bilbao’s third goal, I am surprised that no one mentioned that the keeper was surely to blame for the goal and thus the defeat.
Here is my issue – De Gea’s “second save” from the shot was dreadful! He pulled off a great save, but did not parry wide enough. In my opinion he took forever to get up and upon diving for the loose ball he did not go hands leading, choosing to run around the ball, thus allowing the oncoming player time to get the shot off.
When making the “second save” a goalkeeper should ensure that they can get their hands to the loose ball as quick as possible. I can not think of many occasions when a goalkeeper would make the first on one side and make the follow up with the other side.
Here is the game, with the mistake at 9:15

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