How to Coach – Goalkeeping

An Excerpt from the US Youth Soccer Skills School Manual – available in full under “Player Development Resources” on the ASC website.

(The age group in maroon is the age group when you should focus on developing the skill.)

Goalkeeping

Not only is a strong body needed to be a goalkeeper, but a strong mind as well. Over decades of development a keeper’s skills must become instinctual. Truly the last line of defense and the first line of attack, the goalkeeper has a unique skill set in soccer.

  • Ready Stance (U9/U10)
  • Diamond Grip (U9/U10)
  • W Grip (U11/U12)
  • Holding the Ball after a Save (U9/U10)
  • Catching (U9/U10)
    • Shots on the Ground
    • Shots Below Waist Height
    • Shots Chest to Head Height
    • Shots Above Head Height
  • Distribution (ways the keeper can send the ball their teammates)
    • Goal Kick (U9/U10)
    • Over Arm Throw (U9/U10)
    • Bowling (U11/U12)
    • Punting (U9/U10)
    • Kicking Off the Back Pass (U11/U12)
    • Dropkick (U14)
  • Boxing Double Fist (U14)
  • Boxing Single Fist (U14)
  • Deflecting Around the Post (U14)
  • Deflecting Over the Crossbar (U14)
  • One-on-One (U9/U10)
  • Diving
    • Forward Dive (U11/U12)
    • Lateral Dive
      • Low (U11/U12)
      • Medium (U14)
      • High (U14)

 

The Ready Stance 

Ready Stance

Key Coaching Points

  1. Preparation: feet shoulder width or slightly less apart; up on the balls of the feet; knees bent with the center of gravity lowered; lean forward at the waist somewhat; arms extend forward from the trunk at chest height, but with the arms fairly close to the body; elbows bent; palms of the hands facing forward with the fingertips up; the hands must be relaxed with the fingers bent; the head is steady and eyes forward

 

It is appropriate to teach this starting position, figure 23, from U9/U10 and up.

ASCGoalKeeping_2_ReadyStanceFigure 23 Ready Stance

The Grips

Diamond

Key Coaching Points

  1. Preparation: hands extended forward from the torso with the elbows of the arms bent; palms of the hands facing toward the ball with the fingers relaxed and gently curled; eyes on the ball and watch it all the way into the hands
  2. Contact: to absorb the ball catch with the fingertips not the palms of the hand; bend the elbows deeply upon catching the ball; the tips of the thumbs should just touch behind the ball and the tips of the index fingers too (thus forming a diamond shape); fingers spread wide to cover as much surface of the ball as possible

THIS GRIP WORKS WELL FOR SMALLER HANDS

W

Key Coaching Points

  1. Preparation: hands extended forward from the torso with the elbows of the arms bent; palms of the hands facing toward the ball with the fingers relaxed and gently curled; eyes on the ball and watch it all the way into the hands
  2. Contact: to absorb the ball catch with the fingertips not the palms of the hand; bend the elbows deeply upon catching the ball; the tips of the thumbs should just touch behind the ball; the index fingers are up and diagonally away from the thumbs (thus forming a W shape); fingers spread wide to cover as much surface of the ball as possible

THIS GRIP WORKS WELL FOR LARGER HANDS

Holding the Ball after a Save

Key Coaching Points

  1. Preparation: from the catch wrap the fingers around the ball and slide them to the front of the ball
  2. Contact: the fingers should be spread wide and to the front of the ball without overlapping one another; the forearms should contact the front of the ball; the upper arms contact the bottom of the ball and the back of the ball is against the chest
  3. Follow Through: hold the ball firmly against the chest and keep the elbows close together

Angles

Apart from the penalty kick the goalkeeper is rarely found stationed on the goal line in the goalmouth. The keeper must constantly reposition to an angle facing the ball, figure 28. Once the goalkeeper gets into a good angle to the ball he or she must take up a good body posture to better execute a skill to make a save. This means the right ready stance as in figure 23 is required. Furthermore footwork is a vitally important aspect of goalkeeping. It is the feet that get the hands to the ball. A keeper might have very good catching skill, but that talent is wasted if the keeper cannot move quickly to the ball. Ultimately the goalkeeper should be able to move smoothly in all directions; laterally (post-to-post), forward (straight and diagonally) and backward.

Key Coaching Points

  1. Preparation: horizontal axis of the feet facing the ball; head steady, eyes on the ball; arms out slightly from the torso for balance
  2. Follow Through: sideways movement to reposition (footwork); the center of gravity remains constant in height; reposition through a number of quick short steps rather than one or two long strides; proper stride makes it easier to transfer the body weight from one leg to the other (nimbleness)

AASC_Fig_24_GK_BasicAngles

Figure 24 Basic Angles

Training Activity: Narrow Enough

Play 2v1 + GK in a 30 x 30 yard area with a 6′ x 18′ goal (8′ x 24′ for U14) at one end. Two are attacking field players; the one is a defender and a goalkeeper. The attackers pass among each other and try to score. They should try to shoot from the side forcing the goalkeeper to narrow the angle to stop the shot. The attack earns 1 point for a goal scored head-on and 2 points for a goal scored from either side. The keeper earns a point for every save made. Rotate the goalkeepers every ten shots.

U5/U6 & U7/U8: inappropriate activity

U9/U10-U14: play as described

AASC_Fig_25_GK_NarrowEnough

Figure 25 Narrow Enough

Catching 

Whenever possible the goalkeeper should move to get the body behind the hands and ball as a second barrier in case a clean catch is not made the first time. Any catch (save) made between the ground level and head height has the body behind the hands as insurance in case a ball slips through the hands. Any ball above head height does not have that secondary barrier. So the progression in teaching catching shots to young goalkeepers must be from the ground to above head height so that their confidence and technique in catching can improve before they must deal with the difficult above the head ball.

Key Coaching Points

Ground

  1. Preparation: for a ball rolling along the ground the goalkeeper must first position in the path of the ball; the hands come down to meet the ball with the fingers pointed to the ground; the outside edges of the little fingers should just touch together; spread the fingers wide apart as the ball comes into the hands in order to cover as much surface of the ball as possible; legs behind the hands with the feet and knees together; keep the legs straight; watch the ball all the way into the hands
  2. Contact: scoop the ball into the hands and then up into the arms; bring the ball to the chest and hold it as noted in the section on holding the ball after a save as the body moves into an upright position
  3. Follow Through: from a fully upright position and holding the ball correctly scan the field for a possible distribution

 

Below Waist Height

  1. Preparation: begin in the ready stance with the palms of the hands facing the ball; the fingers should be relaxed and slightly bent; the arms need to be bent somewhat; eyes on the ball
  2. Contact: catch the ball with the fingertips; absorb the pace of the ball with the palms of the hands and by pulling the arms back towards the legs; the energy of the ball can also be absorbed by sliding gently backwards in the shape of a V on the balls of the feet (the feet start at the top of the V figure and finish together at the bottom of the V form)
  3. Follow Through: watch the ball all the way into the hands and arms; exhale at the moment of wrapping the arms around the ball to relax the upper torso as this helps to cushion the ball; bring the ball to the chest and hold it as noted in the section on holding the ball after a save

 

Chest Height

  1. Preparation: begin in the ready stance with the palms of the hands facing the ball; the fingers should be relaxed and slightly bent; the arms need to be bent somewhat; hands out in front of the body to meet the ball; eyes on the ball
  2. Contact: catch the ball with the fingertips; absorb the pace of the ball with the palms of the hands and by bending the arms back towards the chest; watch the ball all the way into the hands; keep the elbows shoulder width apart or less
  3. Follow Through: exhale at the moment of wrapping the arms around the ball to relax the upper torso as this helps to cushion the ball; bring the ball to the chest and hold it as noted in the section on holding the ball after a save

 

Above Head Height

  1. Preparation: position into the flight of the ball; the head is angled up toward the ball; eyes are focused on the ball; extend the arms above head height to catch the ball at the highest point possible
  2. Contact: catch the ball with the fingertips; absorb the pace of the ball with the palms of the hands and by bending the arms back towards the chest; watch the ball all the way into the hands; keep the elbows shoulder width apart or less
  3. Follow Through: exhale at the moment of wrapping the arms around the ball to relax the upper torso as this helps to cushion the ball; bring the ball to the chest (during the descent); hold it as noted in the section on holding the ball after a save

WHEN LEARNING TO CATCH BALLS SHOT STRAIGHT AT THE KEEPER – THE PROGRESSION IS ROLLING, BOUNCING AND THEN IN THE AIR

Training Activity: What’s the Scoop

In a 20 x 15 yard grid play 2v1 with an age appropriate goal on one end line. While passing between one another 2 attackers try to score on the goalkeeper. The keeper is given points for a clean save (scoop it for a low shot 2 points or catch it for a high shot 1 point). The attackers earn a point for each goal scored. Keep score between the attackers and the goalkeeper. After a save or a goal play is restarted by the keeper tossing the ball back out to the attackers. Rotate the player in goal after five shots.

U5/U6 & U7/U8: inappropriate activity

U9/U10 to U14: as described

AASC_Fig_26_GK_WhatsTheScoop

Figure 26 What’s the Scoop

Distribution

Once the goalkeeper has taken possession of the ball, he or she must attempt to use it in a way that an attack on the opposite goal can be set up. The keeper must give the distribution (pass) the same tactical considerations as any player. This means that the ball must be thrown or kicked so that it can be easily controlled when passed over short distances or so that it gives teammates an advantage when played over long distances.

Goal Kick

Key Coaching Points

  1. Preparation: the plant foot of the standing leg should be beside but slightly back from the ball about 6″ with the toes pointed toward the target space; bend the knee of the standing leg for stability; backswing of the kicking leg with the heel of the kicking foot going towards the buttocks; the toes of the kicking foot should be pointed down with the ankle locked; the upper torso is leaning slightly backward; arms out for balance; eyes on the ball
  2. Contact: downswing of the kicking leg is from the hip and the leg straightens out during the downward motion; the instep of the foot should strike the ball along line A and slightly below line B; the big toe should strike low on the ball almost at ground level (be sure that the instep drives through the middle of the ball in order to give the kick distance as well as height); keep the ankle locked upon contact; watch the foot strike the ball; the arms have come in a bit towards the side of the body, but are still out enough to maintain good balance
  3. Follow Through: keep the head down watching the spot where the stationary ball was; swing through the ball and the kicking foot would go in the direction of the target space; the follow through of the kicking leg is in a generally straight direction; look up only after both feet are planted once again on the ground; the ball should have a diagonal flight

 

Over-arm Throw

Key Coaching Points

  1. Preparation: the ball is held at approximately head height; the palm supports the ball from behind with the fingers spread moderately wide; the opposite arm is held low and obliquely to counterbalance the upper body; the weight is on the rear leg; knees are bent a bit; the opposite leg and shoulder move forward in preparation for the throw; eyes forward on the target
  2. Contact: the throwing arm is brought forward from the shoulder simultaneously with the forearm flinging forwards and downwards; the final impetus is given by moving the wrist vigorously to ensure guidance and accuracy; if the ball comes off the fingertips at the last possible moment then it will have some backspin to it which will make it easier for the receiver to control
  3. Follow Through: as the ball leaves the hand bodyweight is transferred to the front foot; while the hand follows through the rear leg comes forward a step as a result of the swing; finish with the fingers pointing toward the target to ensure a full follow through of the throwing arm

 

Training Activity: On the Money

Play 3v3 in a 30 x 20 yard grid with a goal at one end. The attacking team earns a point by intercepting a distribution by the goalkeeper and by scoring goals. The defending team earns a point each time they can control a distribution by their goalkeeper. If the defenders gain possession the game stops and the attackers resume regaining the ball at that spot in the grid. Play 5 to 10 minute rounds depending upon the age group.

Variation: any player who catches the ball while making a save is then the goalkeeper and gets to throw the ball out or utilize a keeper as one of the players on the defending team.

U5/U6 & U7/U8: inappropriate activity

U9/U10 to U14: as described

AASC_Fig_27_GK_OnTheMoney

Figure 27 On the Money

 

Bowling

Key Coaching Points

  1. Preparation: the palm of the bowling arm supports the ball from below; the inner surface of the forearm is behind the ball (keepers with small hands may need to also stabilize the ball with the other hand on top of the ball until the backswing of the bowling arm begins); the fingers are held loose and outspread
  2. Contact: the bowl begins with a step forward by the leg opposite to the bowling arm; the bowling arm swings back from the torso at the shoulder; the elbow straightens; the ball is cradled in the palm of the bowling hand; the opposite arm comes forward to counterbalance; the upper torso leans forward; the knees are deeply bent; on the forward swing the body weight is transferred to the front leg; the bowling arm accelerates; the ball leaves the hand when the straightened arm is at right angles to the ground
  3. Follow Through: the toes of the front foot point toward the target; the forearm and the hand follow through toward the target to add accuracy and pace to the ball; finish with the fingers of the bowling hand pointing towards the target; the throwing arm should now be fully extended; the knee of the rear leg is now almost touching the ground

 

Training Activity: Bowling Balls

Set up a 25 x 20 yard grid with a 4 yard wide goal on one end and play 2v3. One of the three defending players goes in goal. The defending players take turns playing in goal. The attackers try to score goals to earn points. If the goalkeeper makes a save then distribute by bowling the ball to a teammate. If the teammate is able to control the ball from the distribution the defending team earns a point.

For U5/U6 & U7/U8 play 3v3 and any player who catches the ball while stopping a shot is then the goalkeeper and gets to bowl it out. To increase the chances for successful bowling of the ball add an extra player to the defending team.

AASC_Fig_28_GK_BowlingBalls

Figure 28 Bowling Balls

 Punting

This is a technique that is often taught incorrectly resulting in goalkeepers punting for height rather than distance. If the keeper hits the ball well below line A then the ball will go too high and lack distance. The tactical intent of punting the ball is to gain maximum yardage for a breakaway or to relieve pressure from the defense by sending the ball as far away from the defensive third as possible to buy time to reorganize. In both cases the punt needs a height of only about ten to twelve feet. Distance can be added to the punt as well as height by driving forward through the ball with the kicking foot to give the ball a trajectory angle of approximately 45°.

Key Coaching Points

  1. Preparation: cradle the ball in the palm of the hand opposite to the kicking foot; bring the hand and ball into the midline of the body; sight the target before beginning the motion to punt; now lean the head slightly forward and focus on the ball; take a step forward with the leg opposite the kicking foot to plant; bend the knee a bit; toes of the plant foot pointed toward the target; hips facing forward; during the forward step the kicking leg begins the backswing; once the plant foot is set then the hand cradling the ball comes forward and is lowered to basically bellybutton height; eyes on the ball
  2. Contact: let the ball roll forward off the fingertips (do NOT flick the ball upward); the downswing of the kicking leg has begun; let the ball drop just below knee height and then the kicking foot makes contact; the foot should be at a 45° angle so that the instep strikes the ball along line B and mostly below line A; the top of the instep (near the knot of the shoe laces) should strike through line A; toes down and ankle locked; drive through the ball; watch the foot strike the ball
  3. Follow Through: drive the kicking foot forward through the ball; toes stay down and the ankle stays locked in position; the kicking leg comes forward on the follow through; step forward onto the kicking foot and only then look up to see the flight of the ball

 

Training Activity: Over the Top

AASC_Fig_29_GK_OverTheTop

Figure 29 Over the Top

The training area is 40-60 yards long and 30 yards wide. The goal is 6-8 yards wide depending upon the age group involved. Play 3v3 with the defending team designating one player as goalkeeper. The attackers earn points by scoring goals. The defenders earn points from saves made and successful punting of the ball into the zones. One point is given for a ball landing from the goalkeeper’s punt in zone 2 and two points for landing in zone 3. One additional point is earned for any punt controlled by one of the goalkeeper’s teammates. Play two minute rounds. At the beginning of each round the defending team has a new keeper from its group of three.

 

Kicking Off the Back Pass

Key Coaching Points

Same as for clearances made by other players as described in the section on passing.

 

Dropkick

Key Coaching Points

  1. Preparation: hold the top of the ball with both hands; fingers spread wide to cover as much surface area of the ball as possible; take a stride forward with the non-kicking foot; begin the backswing of the kicking leg now; hold the ball in front of the midline of the body at approximately waist height; eyes on the ball
  2. Contact: as the ball is dropping the downswing of the kicking foot has begun; swing the leg from the hip joint; let the ball hit the ground and just as the ball begins its rise from the bounce strike the ball along line B with the instep of the kicking foot; hit both at line A and below it in order to drive the ball forward at approximately a 45° angle; watch the foot strike the ball
  3. Follow Though: the kicking leg follow through is straight; halt the follow through of the kicking leg relatively short, so that the kicking foot ends up only about a foot off the ground; look up only after both feet are back on the ground; the flight of the ball should be low and fairly flat

 

Boxing

Key Coaching Points

Double Fists Punch

  1. Preparation: the head is tilted upward, steady and with the eyes on the ball; the tips of the thumbs must be below and behind the index fingers; clench for a tight fist; press the two fists together firmly; fists start at the chest; single leg take off to gain height in order to meet the ball at the highest point possible; bring up the knee of the opposite leg in a snapping motion to add weight and momentum to the vertical jump and for protection
  2. Contact: fists and arm motion is diagonally forward and upward (45° angle) with explosive force to meet the ball; elbows stay close together; punch the center of the ball with the flat top area of the fists; eyes on the ball as the fists make contact; arms straighten out sharply (in this way the arms act like springs) to add power to the punching action of the fists
  3. Follow Through: keep the fists together on the follow through; keep the elbows close together on the follow through

 

Single Fist Punch (forward)

  1. Preparation: head is tilted upward, steady and with the eyes on the ball; the tips of the thumbs must be below the fingers; clench for a tight fist; start the fist at shoulder level; single leg take off to gain height in order to meet the ball at the highest point possible
  2. Contact: fist and arm motion is diagonally forward and upward with explosive force to meet the ball; punch the center of the ball with the flat top area of the fist; eyes on the ball as the fist makes contact; arm straightens out sharply to add power to the punching action of the fist; twist the upper body sideways and reach with the striking fist to fully extend to meet the ball
  3. Follow Through: fully extend the arm; follow through with the fist toward the target

 

Single Fist Punch (side motion)

  1. Preparation: head is tilted upward and slightly towards the ball side; keep the head steady and with the eyes on the ball; the tips of the thumbs must be below the fingers; clench for a tight fist; single fist punch starts with the fist at shoulder level; single leg take off to gain height in order to meet the ball at the highest point possible; the take off leg must be the one opposite to the ball side; the knee of the leg on the ball side should thrust upward to add momentum to the jump and for protection
  2. Contact: fist and arm motion is in an arcing motion over the head with explosive force to meet the ball; punch the center of the ball with the flat top area of the fist; eyes on the ball as the fist makes contact
  3. Follow Through: follow through with the fist towards the opposite shoulder to carry the ball along on its flight path toward the opposite side of the field

 

CLEARANCES SHOULD BE HIGH, WIDE AND LONG

HIGH = ABOVE THE HEADS OF OPPOSING PLAYERS

WIDE = TOWARDS THE FLANKS OF THE FIELD

LONG = AS FAR AWAY FROM THE GOALKEEPER’S PENALTY AREA AS POSSIBLE

 

Training Activity: Boxing Day

In the defensive third of an age appropriate size field the coach sets up at the top of the penalty area arc. The goalkeeper starts in the goal area. Two target players position themselves near on either flank of the defensive third.

The coach serves the ball in the air to the goalkeeper via an underhand toss or by chipping the ball. Each time the goalkeeper should come out to the ball to meet it at the highest point possible and punch it to one of the target players. The goalkeeper decides to which side of the field to punch the ball based on the original flight of the ball. One dozen services equal one round. Goalkeepers should alternate rounds.

To practice single fisted punches of a ball coming in from the side the coach should serve from the side of the penalty area and the target players should move closer to the goal line.

Once the goalkeeper is comfortable with both double fisted and single fisted punches add an opponent for realistic pressure.

U5/U6 & U7/U8: inappropriate activity

U9/U10 to U14: as described

AASC_Fig_30_GK_BoxingDay

Figure 30 Boxing Day

 

Deflecting

When a shot is going just outside the goalkeepers reach for a safe catch then deflecting the ball around a goalpost or over the crossbar is the next choice. It is better to push the ball out-of-bounds and give up a corner kick than to make a partial save where the keeper is unlikely to be able to hold the ball and it is now loose and still inside the penalty area. Whenever possible use the heel of the palm of the hand to deflect, but often only the fingers will reach the ball. When a ball is turned around a post it is almost always done so at the end of a dive.

Around the Post

Key Coaching Points

  1. Preparation: shuffle towards the ball side in preparation to dive across the goalmouth; dive toward the ball; stretch the low hand toward the ball; eyes on the ball
  2. Contact: use the low hand to deflect the ball so that the torso stays facing forward to see the ball clearly; try to get as much of the hand on the ball as possible, but just the fingertips will do if the ball is at the end of the full reach; lock the wrist so that the hand is not pushed back by the ball; with a somewhat curved motion push the ball around the post and over the goal line
  3. Follow Through: watch the ball all the way out of bounds; follow through with the fingers of the low hand toward the ball; land as done with a low or medium height dive

Over the Crossbar

Key Coaching Points

  1. Preparation: move in line with the flight of the ball; take a step back toward the goalmouth with the leg on the ball side; turn the hip of that far leg toward the goalmouth; take a small hop upward from the far leg; now the hip of the near leg is turned out toward the ball; thrust upward with the knee of the near leg; extend the near arm up toward the ball; eyes on the ball
  2. Contact: use the near/high hand to push the ball over the crossbar; try to get the full ball of the hand onto the ball if possible, but even the fingertips can be used to deflect the ball if it is at the end of the reach of the keeper; the hand and arm should move in an arcing motion (similar to a swimmer’s backstroke arm motion); watch the hand push the ball over the bar
  3. Follow Through: during the descent keep an eye on the ball to be sure it has cleared the crossbar; land on both feet or as with a dive

 

Training Activity: Double Goal

The grid should be 20 x 20 yards with an age group regulation goal on one end. A second smaller goal is made with corner flags inside the grid 6 yards forward of the regulation goal. The second goal should be at least 2 yards more narrow than the regulation goal. There is a goalkeeper in each goal. A shooter is in front of the smaller goal; 8 to 10 yards away. A second field player is in the area between the two goals. The coach is just outside the grid with spare soccer balls. A ball is played to the shooter who may shoot first touch or dribble and then shoot. He is shooting at the smaller goal. The keeper here attempts to make the save. If the ball gets through the first goal then the goalkeeper in the second regulation goal must make the save. The second field player in front of that goal may try to redirect (deflect) the ball. The goalkeepers should switch roles after eight shots. The field players should switch roles after 5 minutes.

U5/U6 & U7/U8: inappropriate activity

U9/U10 & U11/U12: the regulation goal is 6′ x 18′ and the small goal is then 12′ or less wide

U14: the regulation goal is 8′ x 24′ and the small goal is then 18′ or less wide

AASC_Fig_31_GK_DoubleGoal

Figure 31 Double Goal

 

One-on-One Saves

Keeping in mind the principle of “narrowing the angle” the goalkeeper should exert every effort to meet the opponent as far away from the goal as possible.

Key Coaching Points

  1. Preparation: the goalkeeper runs at top speed; but as the keeper closes on the opponent, reduce the pace; now spread the arms out wide to make the body as large a target as possible; eyes on the ball
  2. Contact: use short quick steps now as it is possible to dive more accurately from a relatively slow movement; go to the ground with the chest lined up with the ball; hands go to the side the dribbler has the ball; throw the feet out in the opposite direction; go to the ground on the side of the body stretching the hands to the near post side and the feet to the far post side; dive across the front of the opponent; do NOT roll over onto the stomach; if the ball comes into the chest then wrap the hands and arms around the ball; if the ball goes to the hands then the shoulder, elbows and wrist should be firm to hold the impact of the ball; eyes on the ball; as the opponent hurdles or makes contact tuck in the head for protection
  3. Follow Through: pull the ball into the chest with the arms wrapped around it; tuck in the high leg toward the upper torso; tuck the head down

 

Training Activity: One & Done

Divide the team into two groups. Play in one half of the field. Both goalkeepers are at one goal and take turns in goal. One group of field players is behind the goal collecting the balls that go out-of-bounds and returning them quickly to the other group. The second group is staged in a grid 30 yards from goal. One at a time they attack the goal, thus setting up a one-on-one with the keeper. The next attacker may go after a shot has been taken. The attackers get a point for each goal scored and the goalkeeper gets a point for each save made and two points for taking the ball off the attacker’s foot. The goalkeepers and attackers switch places after one minute. Keep score between the two groups of attackers and the two keepers.

AASC_Fig_32_GK_OneandDone

Figure 32 One & Done

 

Diving

In diving the three phases of preparation, contact and follow through are replaced with takeoff, flight and landing. Just as with flying a plane the most important part is the landing, so teach this phase first. Next in importance is the take-off; then the flight. However the three phases will be presented here in the order in which the skill is actually done. Some definitions will aid the coach and player in learning the skills of diving saves.

Low leg = the one closest to the ground when in a horizontal position Low hand = the one closest to the ground when in a horizontal position High leg = the one farthest from the ground when in a horizontal position

High hand = the one farthest from the ground when in a horizontal position Take-off leg = the one on the side of the ball

Trail leg = the one opposite the ball side Near leg = the one closest to the ball

Far leg = the one farthest from the ball

 

Forward

Key Coaching Points

  1. Takeoff: get squarely into the path of the ball; feet shoulder width apart and take one step forward with the leg nearest to the ball; lean forward at the waist; arms bent with the hands approximately waist height; the fingers should point forward with the palms of the hands facing up; head steady and eyes on the ball
  2. Flight: pounce on the ball with a forward lunge; the timing has to be right or the ball will be past the keeper; scoop the ball into the hands while immediately wrapping the arms around the ball; with a low ball simply fall forward; with a medium high ball dive forward with a spring from the legs
  3. Landing: land first on the forearms and then the thighs; the lower legs should be bent slightly so that the feet do not drag; slide forward with the body’s momentum to absorb the impact along the forearms, torso and thighs; the head should be up and kept steady by locking the neck muscles; the keeper may need to tuck the head to the side of the ball away from the opponent if being challenged

 

Lateral – low

Key Coaching Points

  1. Takeoff: take a sideways step towards the ball side; bend the knee of the leg on the ball side and lower the body; collapse the near leg; lower the body to the ground
  2. Flight: body sideways on to the ball to follow the principle of getting the body behind the ball, which means the goalkeeper can see the ball all the way; low hand goes behind the ball; high hand goes on top of the ball; the low hand stops the ball’s forward momentum and the high hand gently presses the ball into the ground
  3. Landing: contact the ground with the outside of the leg, hips and side of the torso; keep the head up and steady by locking the neck muscles as contact is made with the ground; eyes on the ball

If the ball is deflected after the goalkeeper has already committed to a dive than a kick save may be required. The change of direction of the path of the ball could come from a shot or pass rebounding off a player or deflected by an uneven surface or a skip off of wet grass. If the goalkeeper’s diving form is correct with the legs parallel to one another and not crossed over each other then there’s a chance to clear the ball with a kick. This save may suffice or at the least gain the keeper time to get back onto his or her feet.

 

Lateral – medium

Key Coaching Points

  1. Takeoff: from the ready stance shuffle (a series of quick, lateral glide steps) towards the shot; the first stride is taken with the near leg; face the ball on a diagonal before the takeoff to narrow the angle of flight; the takeoff is initiated by both legs; push off the far leg to shift the weight onto the take-off leg; deeply bend the knee of the takeoff leg and that hip; the initial push off causes the body to lean in the direction of the ball; push off strongly with the takeoff leg with a vigorous extension of the ankle, knee, and hip-joint; both arms forcefully thrust up toward the ball; the knee of the trail leg thrusts toward the chest
  2. Flight: the hip joint of the trail leg should forcefully extend to add greater reach to the dive; the low (near) hand goes behind the ball and the high (far) hand goes on top of the ball; look at the ball in the ‘window’ between the arms; fully extend the arms; get the body parallel to the ground; head steady and eyes on the ball watching it into the hands
  3. Landing: utilize the low leg to break the impact of the landing by contacting the ground in the order of foot, lower leg, thigh, hip, upper arm, trunk and shoulder; a rocking motion spread along the length of the side of the body softens the landing; it is crucially import to lock the neck muscles to keep the head steady, off the ground and with the eyes on the ball

 

Lateral – high

  1. Takeoff: the near leg steps forward and sideways; the initial stride is as long as possible while adjusting to the shot; the far leg smoothly follows the near leg; the near hand leads the body into the dive; proper footwork keeps the body perpendicular to the shot; deeply bend the knee of the takeoff leg and that hip; push off strongly with the takeoff leg with a vigorous extension of the ankle, knee, and hip- joint; both arms forcefully thrust up toward the ball; the knee of the trail leg thrusts towards the chest
  2. Flight: low hand behind the ball; high hand on top of the ball; see the ball through the ‘window’; dive forward to meet the ball; arms bent at the elbows a little bit to help absorb the ball when caught; keep the body parallel to the ground throughout the flight; during descent the hands rotate slightly to be above the ball
  3. Landing: the ball contacts the ground just before the goalkeeper lands along the side of the body; use the arms, shoulder and upper body muscles to ‘lower’ the body to ground; the force of the landing is absorb along the length of the body – ball, forearms, trunk, hips, thighs, lower legs and then feet; do not slap the feet against the ground but instead gently lower them to the ground; control the legs upon landing so that the feet do not slap together; keep the head up from the ground by locking the neck muscles; eyes stay focused on the ball

With all dives using the muscles of the arms, shoulders, upper back, chest and abdomen to control the landing is important to maintain control of the ball upon impact with the ground and to reduce the likelihood of injury. Psychologically teach novice goalkeepers that this is a safe landing not a crash landing.

DIVING – TEACH HOW TO LAND, THEN HOW TO TAKEOFF AND THEN HOW TO FLY. THE DIRECTION OF THE DIVE SHOULD BE PRESENTED IN THIS ORDER: FORWARD, LATERAL AND THEN BACKWARDS. THE HEIGHT OF THE DIVE SHOULD BE PRESENTED IN THIS ORDER: COLLAPSE, LOW, MEDIUM AND THEN HIGH.

 

Training Activity: Triangle Goal

Two teams of 3v3 play around a triangular shaped goal. Each side of the triangle has a goalkeeper. The two teams play against each other and try to shoot past one of the goalkeepers. If a keeper makes a save he or she distributes to the other team out towards the edge of the grid. The goal sizes should be based on the age group. The grid should be 25 x 25 yards. Rotate the players in goal with one of the teams after five minutes. Play until all nine players have been in goal.

AASC_Fig_33_GK_TriangleGoal

Figure 33 Triangle Goal

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