Before a goalkeeper even uses any part to touch the ball, they should be making constant adjustments to their position in relation to where the ball is on the field of play – even when it’s at the other end of the pitch! Below, we look at where keepers should be positioned in general play and when facing a shot.

Key soccer coaching tip: The coach should observe the keeper's movement from behind the goal.

Goalie positioning tips

1.  If the ball is in the attacking third of the pitch, the keeper should be in the front third of their penalty area.

2.  If the ball’s in the middle third, they should stand in the middle third of their penalty area.

3.  If the ball’s in the defending third, they should position themselves a little distance from their goal-line.

Sweep it up

Why is all that important? Because as well as making saves, a goalkeeper’s job is to provide support for their defence. The space between the keeper and defenders should be small enough to make it tricky for opponents to play a ball into it without either the keeper or defenders getting there first. A good position also means the goalkeeper is available to receive a backpass from an under-pressure teammate.

Stop that shot – part 1

To prepare for a save, goalkeepers should:

  • Constantly adjust their position in relation to the sideways or backward/forward movement of the ball.
  • Be towards the midline of a triangle formed by lines joining the position of the ball and the two goal-posts (see diagram).
  • Once in line, plant their feet and be balanced when the attacker is in possession and in a position to shoot.
  • Get on their feet quickly again after saving the shot and be ready for the next one!

Shop that shot – part 2

When an attacker’s through on goal in a 1v1, the goalkeeper should also:

  • Move along the line to the ball if it’s outside the playing distance of the attacker, and as fast as possible.
  • Once the keeper has closed down the attacker, they should slow to a couple of arms’ lengths away and force the shooter to make a decision. Slowing down makes it easier to react, and makes it harder for the attacker to dribble around the goalkeeper.

Remember: The goalkeeper is a specialist position so he deserves special attention.