8 Tips To Be a Better Goalkeeper (Soccer)

Goalkeepers are a vital part of successful soccer teams. Soccer beginners goalkeeper tips will help you increase the productivity of the newbies. It is a position in which all of the top teams in the world of soccer are desperate to fill with the best talent. Many soccer coaches have limited experience in coaching players in this position and sometimes they do not give them the attention they need to succeed.

I have decided to provide 8 tips to help players and coaches improve their understanding of the requirements of the goalkeeping position.

What are the 8 tips for soccer beginners goalkeeper?

  1. Support the ball by positioning themselves appropriately to help the defensive players who are in possession of the ball.
  2. Be able to play around opponents pressure in and around the box through passing and throwing.
  3. Understand when to play through opponents pressure because there are limited options to the sides of the goalkeeper.
  4. Distribution ability to play into players accurately over larger distances.
  5. Support the defenders when the team is out of possession through their communication, positioning, and movement
  6. Defend spaces outside of the box when the team is out of possession
  7. Be on the front foot to defend the 18 yard box, by dealing with through balls, crosses, pullbacks and communicate to key players
  8. Denying goals through shot stopping, catching, saving
What are the 8 tips for soccer beginners goalkeeper?

There are 8 important aspects of effective goalkeeping provided in the article four of which are based on the in possession moment and the other four tips are based on the out of possession moment. The tips are meant to act as a guide to help coaches understand what to say to their goalkeepers and to help goalkeepers become aware of some of the key decisions they have to make both in and out of possession.

1. Support the Ball

Once a goalkeeper has played their initial pass into the center back or full back their job is not done, They have a responsibility to support the ball carrier behind the ball and make themselves available in a position to receive the ball again and switch the point of the attack or offer security to the defensive players. There are three ways in which the goalkeeper can support the ball during the in possession moment.

Communication, goalkeepers can see everything in front of them so they have a responsibility to provide information and support to their teammates to help them. Examples would include shouting that the defender has a player pressuring them and offering a support pass to help them, telling players to turn if there is no pressure, providing players with praise for performing actions well.

Coaches need to discuss these things with the goalkeeper and ask them to be the extra pair of eyes to help the team play and be that plus one player behind the ball to offer security to the defenders if they cannot play forward. In training practices, the coach could help by positioning themselves by the goalposts so the coach can see what the player sees.

The coach standing by the post is a good way of helping the goalkeeper with their decision-making and reassuring them if they are doubting themselves.

Positioning, The goalkeeper must position themselves suitably behind the ball following a distribution. they must be willing to have the ball back and connect another pass, switch the ball or clear the ball because the opponent pressure is too high. Many of these decisions are made much easier through the goalkeeper’s immediate reaction to help the player they have thrown the ball to.

The coach could encourage the goalkeepers to take up a position outside of the goalposts so if they are not confident with their receiving skills their is room for some error and it won’t cost the team a goal if the ball rolls under their foot. This type of position can also give the goalkeeper a little more time as the ball carrier returning the ball does not have to pass it as far and the pressuring player will have a bigger distance to cover.

Support the ball at the sides of the goal so if a receiving error is made, it wont cost the team a goal.

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Hand signals, Because the goalkeepers wear gloves they should be encouraged to use clear hand signals to make it easier and quicker for them to receive the ball back, for example, if the goalkeeper wants a pass into feet, the signal could be two hands opened and pointing towards their feet. If they want the ball passed in front of them they could raise their arm with an open hand to indicate where they want the ball to be played.

If the goalkeeper wants the ball close to their feet then an open hand could be used to indicate the pass needs to be close to the foot they are signaling to. These visual signals are helpful to the players on the ball as they get a clear idea of where the receiving goalkeeper wants the ball.

The coach can work with the goalkeeper on their hand signaling to help them support the build-up play and to help make the outfield players’ decisions easier if they decide to pass the ball back to them.

2. Play Around Pressure

This aspect of goalkeeping usually occurs from a few different situations, the situations are as follows, goal kicks, back passes, catching a cross, shot, a throw in to name a few. The importance of this from a coaching point of view is to ensure that practices you design include these things to ensure realism. The realism will give the goalkeeper more experience and understanding of what to do when each situation occurs if it has been practiced.

As you can see by the situations above, a goalkeeper may need to play around pressure following an opponent’s attack.

This usually means that the opponent will have lots of players around the box and central areas of the pitch if the ball stays in play. If the goalkeeper is playing from a goal kick or their hands again the opponent can get organized to protect the central area of the pitch, so quite often the space to release the pressure on your team will be wide and to the outside of the playing area.

There are a few technical skills that goalkeepers require to successfully play around pressure they need to be able to accurately receive the ball ideally with both feet and pass along the floor and in the air to center back and full-back positions. They must be able to throw the ball accurately along the floor or in the air so the receiver can deal with the ball on their first touch.

They must make quick decisions to decide the speed and weight of the pass or throw required, if the goalkeeper under hits passes then the receiver is under pressure because they are waiting for the pass to arrive. If the ball gets to the receiver but it arrives in the air or bounces at their feet, then the receiver is required to take a couple of touches before they can release the ball, again prompting pressure from the opposition.

This identifies the need for the speed, weight, and type of technical actions by the goalkeeper to be practiced. It also identifies a need for the goalkeeper to scan the field of play on both sides to see their best options. Many goalkeepers are only comfortable playing off one side because they have not developed their weaker foot. Encouraging the goalkeeper to play off both feet accurately will help them and the team improve.

3. Ability to Play Through Pressure

Playing through pressure occurs when the opponents are locked onto the wide players and the center back does not have many forward passing options. If this is the case the ball is often returned to the goalkeeper. During these moments many goalkeepers panic and just launch the ball as far and as high as they can.

Some coaches may be happy with this, for development purposes it may be useful to coach the goalkeeper to look into central areas and play through the pressuring opponent, think about it, the best users of the ball in many teams are often central midfielders. The key to goalkeepers successfully playing through opponents is back to scanning, speed, and weight of pass.

As previously mentioned the goalkeeper must look at the whole field following any distribution, if they do this regularly they should have a good idea of who is ready to receive the ball and where the space is. For me, if the goalkeeper is playing through they need to try and position themselves so that they can take a touch as the accuracy of two touches over one-touch passing is so much higher.

If the goalkeeper can take a touch this will draw in the opponent and hopefully open up a space for a midfielder or player to move into thus providing a further through option. Upon playing the pass the goalkeeper needs to put the right weight on the pass and fire it through the pressing player, the last thing they want to do is under-hit or underthrow the ball, this will lead to chances at goal for the opponent.

The decision to play through opponents requires confidence and trust between the players so coaches must encourage the goalkeeper to be brave in possession of the ball and place them into practices that encourage them to play through and between players to secure possession. A way of doing this is including the goalkeeper as a target in possession practices but allowing the inside players to pressure them.

The coach must be prepared for errors and mistakes and maybe a few goals conceded, the learning curve will be much quicker if the goalkeepers have a coach who praises their attempts and efforts to play as opposed to berating them for messing up. consistency and exposure are key, the more play thorough attempts a coach can provide the goalkeepers, the quicker they will learn and develop the confidence to play through under pressure.

soccer beginners goalkeeper?

4. Distribution to Play Over Pressure

There are times when the goalkeeper cannot play around or through and therefore they may need to play over the pressure. Let’s be clear, a distribution to play overpressure is not a long kick without any intent. It is an accurate pass that is dropped over the pressuring team and into the feet of a teammate.

This type of pass is usually kicked from the floor or kicked out of the hands of the goalkeeper, The main reason why the ball is kicked long is that the opponent is high pressing and there are limited options to go around or through the pressure. The technique of the goalkeeper needs to be accurate in these circumstances.

Technically the goalkeeper needs to ensure that they can develop an ability to kick the ball high enough so to get over the pressuring players but to ensure that it arrives at the feet of the receiver to deal with the ball keeping their body between the opponent and the ball. It is important to get the balance right between kicking over and playing through or around.

Over coaching kicking, overpressure can be detrimental to the goalkeeper because they do not develop the ability to play with their feet under pressure. Coaches should be mindful of over coaching the idea of playing overpressure.

A final consideration around playing overpressure is about the physical attributes of the goalkeeper. If you work with young goalkeepers then their ability to play over the pressure may be diminished because they are unable to kick the distances required to go over the pressuring team. This can limit the options of the goalkeeper to play around or through.

Coaches must be patient with goalkeepers who are unable to play over because they may harm their confidence in themselves. The coach must develop a routine of activities and time to practice kicking over the pressure, ideally doing this in unopposed situations until they develop their confidence to kick over.

In possession the goalkeeper has three basic choices, play around, play through or play over the opponent, coaches need to help the goalkeepers make the right choices

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5. Out of Possession Support

This tip is about looking away from the ball when your team is out of possession and observing what the goalkeeper is doing when the outfield players are chasing the ball. In these circumstances, the goalkeeper can see everything and must be willing to share what they see with the outfield players. They can do this through their communication.

They can tell the outfield players to pick up opponents, mark spaces, hold a higher line, etc. Communication can make the job of the outfield players easier. It can give them the confidence to hold higher positions or give the ball back to them if the ball is regained. Positioning is also vital to the success of the support that the goalkeeper.

The position the goalkeeper takes up is really helpful to the defense because the goalkeeper can position themselves in anticipation for balls over the top or behind players ready to receive the ball if it is won back. Coaches should work on goalkeepers’ horizontal and vertical movements to ensure they stay connected with the outfield players and offer support if it is required.

Movement is the final aspect of out-of-possession support with the main view of being in a position to retrieve the ball if anything is played over the top or through their players. The goalkeeper needs to be willing to move out of their box to control the space behind their box and also to move laterally ball side to ensure they can be an option to switch play is a possession if won back.

The combination of these actions will help the goalkeepers provide quality support to the outfield players and keep them connected during out-of-possession moments. Coaches should focus on these things and look away from the ball often to see what the goalkeepers do when the ball is not in the areas where they are occupying.

6. Defend the Spaces outside of the Box

This moment is about goalkeepers having the confidence to leave their box especially when the ball is in the other half in anticipation of any through balls. Most goalkeepers are uncomfortable being outside of their box but acting as a sweeper behind the defense to deal with through balls is such a big help.

During these moments coaches need to think about encouraging the goalkeeper to take up a higher starting position outside of their box between the halfway line and the 18-yard box. This will change dependent on the age of the player but the principle of coaching the goalkeeper to be brave and take up a higher starting position is the main thing.

The goalkeeper needs to be on the front foot to clear any through balls away from danger or to retain possession of the ball if played through. The confidence to leave the box is something that takes goalkeepers out of their comfort zone but it is a useful habit to coach the players so they can develop this skill.

Playing in games is a great opportunity for coaches to work on this concept and encourage their goalkeepers to take up higher starting positions. The goalkeepers can experiment with their positions and begin to see how helpful dealing with balls behind the defense can be.

Defend the Spaces outside of the Box

7. Defend the Box

Defending the box is probably one of the most important concepts to goalkeepers. It is about doing whatever it takes to deal with the ball inside of the box. They must be willing to execute several key concepts, communicating with the defensive line, covering their goal, protecting the 6-yard box, coming for crosses, positioning themselves to deal with a shot. These are all things that may occur inside of the box.

When communicating with the defensive line they must provide instruction to the players about where the dangers are in terms of opponent attackers as well as trying to get the players to cover the key spaces in front of the goal which would be the front post area, usually the responsibility of fullbacks, the center of the goal, usually the responsibility of the center back and the back post area usually the responsibility of the furthest fullback.

The goalkeeper must then decide on their plan of action dependent on the situation occurring, so if a cross was coming into the box they may have to come and attack it to catch or punch, if a ball is pulled back they may have to adjust their footwork to cover the front or back post if a player opens their body to shoot they may have to prepare to deal with a shot.

Each of these moments requires a different type of positioning and the goalkeepers and defenders need to work together collectively to try and block the options, cover the spaces and deny the opponent shooting, crossing, and setting up opportunities. Communication and reading the opposition intent through observation can help the players predict the opponent’s next actions.

8. Deny Goals

This part is about doing whatever is needed to stop the opponent from getting an easy chance to score or shoot. It is a combination of reactive movements, shot-stopping, and explosive actions to get down to save the ball, jump and catch the ball, dive down at a player’s feet to retrieve the ball. These are the last-ditch things that goalkeepers often do to prevent goals from being scored.

The best way to work on these situations from a coaching point of view is to try and make the activity unpredictable thus using game-like situations such as a 5 v 5 game played in a pitch space about the height and width of two 18 yard boxes, this will help goalkeepers receive plenty of action and get to work on a range of the tips provided above as well as denying goals.

As coaches, we often tend to spend most of our time coaching the goalkeeper to deny goals by being a good shot-stopper, by peppering the goals with shots, or doing crossing and finishing sessions. This type of stuff has its place but hopefully, the other tips in the article have provided some food for thought to all coaches to make them see other areas of development required by their goalkeepers.

Related Questions

Is there anything else to think about with goalkeepers? Yes, you could try to develop an individual profile of what you would like from your goalkeeper from a technical, physical, social, and psychological point of view. This can help be used by the coach alongside the tips to help them coach the individual towards achieving excellence in all the tips and acquiring the individual points from the profile you create.

How do I coach this and the outfield players? Ideally, you do not have to, if you have access to another coach try to get them on board to coach the goalkeeper in these areas during the team practices to help them make real decisions in game-like situations rather than working on isolated moments of these things. If you do not have access to a coach then your session design becomes important to integrate goalkeepers effectively

If you are interested in tips for other playing positions, This site has developed articles on the following positions. The links to them can be found below.

Tips on coaching attacking midfielders can be found here.

Tips for the defensive midfielder are found here.