Despite the fact that many great soccer players have almost single-handedly helped their team win, soccer is not a game of one athlete.
All 11 players on the team are equally responsible for how the game turns out.
Even with all of that, it could be said that goalies have the most effect on the game. As a goalie, it’s your job to keep your goal from being touched by other players.
Goalies need to have a number of skills to be successful, such as:
- Quick reaction and strength.
- Strategic thinking.
- Good communication skills.
- Mental toughness.
In this guide, I’ll go into more detail about what makes a good soccer goalkeeper. My goalkeeping tips should help you figure out what you need to change in your game to become a better goalkeeper.
How To Be A Good Soccer Goalie [Goalkeeper Tips]
1. Know The Rules Of The Game
First on our list of tips for goalies are the rules.
Have you looked at the Laws of the Game from the International Football Association Board (IFAB)? If not, you should, for sure. You don’t have to remember every rule in the book, but you must know anything that applies to you or your team.
You might be able to become the best goalkeeper in the world, but you won’t get very far in the sport if you don’t know what you can and can’t do on the field.
What goalies may and may not do
The only players in soccer who can hold the ball are the goalkeepers. They can only do this in their own penalty area, though.
This is common knowledge, and there aren’t many people who don’t know these two easy soccer rules. In soccer, however, there are a lot more rules that only apply to goalies.
The 2020/2021 Laws of the Game say the following are some of the most important things:
- Goalies may take penalty kicks. Likewise, they are allowed to participate in penalty shootouts.
- Outside the penalty area, goalies have the same restrictions regarding ball handling as other players.
- A goalkeeper is considered in control of the ball when:
- The ball is between their hands, between their hand or any other surface, or is touched by any part of the goalie’s hands or arms. This excludes when the goalkeeper made a save or when the ball rebounds from them.
- The ball is held in an outstretched, open hand.
- The goalie is bouncing the ball on the ground or throwing it in the air.
- Goalkeepers can’t be challenged by an opponent while in control of the ball with the hands.
- During penalty kicks, until the ball is kicked, the goalie must remain on the goal line between the goalposts, facing the kicker and without touching the goalposts, crossbar, or the net.
- Keepers aren’t allowed to control the ball with a hand or arm for more than 6 seconds inside their penalty area.
- Goalkeepers aren’t allowed to touch the ball with their hand or arm after releasing it and before another player touches it.
- Keepers aren’t allowed to grip the ball if it has been deliberately kicked to them by a teammate.
- Any player may replace a goalkeeper, but a good goalkeeper is hard to find. You should, therefore, really try to stay in the game to secure a win.
Keep in mind that the laws of the game change often, so you should read each new rulebook. Most of the time, a summary of changes is at the end of the rulebook.
Check out the rules of soccer in your country or league as well. Even though the Laws of the Game are used as a guide by many leagues, there may be important differences between them.
Goalkeepers need to wear the same things as other soccer players:
- A sleeved shirt.
- Shin guards.
Aside from these items, goalies can also wear bottoms from a tracksuit.
The colours of a goalie’s uniform must be easy to tell apart from those of other players and match officials. Goalkeepers from different teams can wear the same colour shirt if they don’t have anything else.
Protective gear like helmets, face masks, arm and knee pads, goalkeeper caps, and sports glasses are allowed. Except for the caps worn by goalkeepers, all heads must
- Either black or the main colour of the player’s shirt, if the goalie’s teammates wear the same colour.
- The goalie’s gear should look as “professional” as possible.
- Not be sewn onto the shirt.
2. Position Yourself Properl
You should put yourself in the right spot in your penalty box. Here are some tips on how to stand in the right place.
- Take a neutral “athletic stance” with your feet apart, knees and elbows soft, elbows out, and your hands in front of you.
- Don’t stay at the line; get as close to the ball as you can to make it harder for the attacker to get around you.
- Move behind the ball whenever you can to save it with your chest. Most of the time, this is easiest when the ball goes low or to your side.
3. Keep An Eye On The Game
As a goalkeeper, you are different from the other players because you can see everything going on on the field. You should use this to your advantage and keep a close eye on every player, whether they are on your team or on the other team.
For goalkeepers to make clutch saves, they need to be able to react quickly and decide what to do. Also, being able to think strategically and see the game as if from above are important skills for a goalie.
If you watch what’s happening on the field closely from your box, you’ll be able to pretty accurately guess what will happen next. This will then let you change your position or direct your defence so you can counter the next move the attackers make.
4. Communicate With Your Teammate
It’s important for the outcome of the game that you stay in touch with your teammates, especially your defenders.
Even though you’re not the coach and your teammates can probably see what’s going on just fine, you should take advantage of the fact that you can see the whole field.
Here are some things you could and should do:
- Tell your team about any patterns you see in how the other team plays.
- Use short words like “leave,” “press,” or “mark” to tell your teammates what to do.
- During corner kicks, free kicks, and throw-ins, you should tell your teammates where to stand.
- Get your teammates to work towards the goal.
5. Be Aggressive And Decisive In Defense
If an opponent is coming at you down the field, you should be able to guess what they will do next and act accordingly. This is especially true in one-on-one situations where you can’t stop the attacker with your defence.
In this kind of situation, you need to be aggressive and ready to make a quick decision.
- Hold your arms out to your sides or raise them above your head to make yourself look bigger and scare off the attacker. This simple trick can make attackers think hard, which can make them make a mistake.
- Charge the attacker to make it harder for them to kick you and to scare them away.
Keep your legs moving and stay on your toes so you can change your position quickly and respond to what the attacker does.
- Watch how the striker moves to figure out what they might do next. Watching the opponent’s eyes is a good way to guess what they will do next. This could tell you where they will kick the ball (though experienced players may be able to trick you by looking in another direction). Watch the opponent’s legs as well. If you see the striker plant their foot to make a shot, try to predict where the ball will go.
Aside from that, make sure to attack any ball that is heading toward the goal. Don’t let the other team take advantage of an unclaimed ball. If the ball isn’t claimed, it’s easy for them to win.
6. Start Making Saves Efficientl
You should not have to save shots very often, but when you do, you have to do it quickly and well. Here are some things you should do:
- Catch the ball whenever possible. This is important for two reasons. First off, no one can attempt another shot at the goal if you are in the ball’s possession. Secondly, you can immediately throw the ball toward your teammates, launching an attack.
- Deflect the ball when you can’t catch it. If you can’t perform a catch, you should save the goal by punching or kicking the ball away. Resort to kicking only in emergencies because recovering from a kick and reacting to another attempt to score a goal can be very difficult.
- Dive for the ball when it’s low to the ground. Whenever possible, dive onto the ball. If you haven’t caught the ball, get up quickly to be able to react to what may be coming next. Otherwise, you may quickly discover that a follow-up shot has already sent the ball across the goal line.
7. Work On Your Motor Skills & Reaction Times
You will be able to use the rest of your strengths well if you are quick to react and have good coordination. You can be the best communicator and have the best strategic mind in the world, but you won’t be a good goalie if you can’t react quickly to how the ball moves.
Drills and practice are the best way to improve your motor skills and reaction times. You should do both general drills, like dribbling or passing the ball, and exercises that are more geared toward goalkeepers.
Some things you could do to improve your coordination and reaction time are:
- Shifts and changes of direction.
- Kicking the ball into a wall and trying to stop it from coming back toward you
- Practice kicks or shots from the penalty spot.
8. Learn How To Save Penalties
Penalties are probably the hardest thing for goalies to deal with. Goalies don’t have much time to react, which means that penalties are scored very often.
Only about 17.5% of penalty kicks are saved, according to InStat. This means that goalkeepers miss the vast majority of penalty balls (though some goalies are obviously way better than others).
Even though the odds aren’t in your favour, you should still try your best to avoid a penalty.
Here are some tips that will hopefully help you get more penalties:
- Keep your arms wide. This will make you bigger and more intimidating to your attacker, as well as will help you cover more net surface.
- Keep your knees bent. Bend your knees once you assume your position to jump instantly when attackers strike the ball.
- Try to guess where the penalty taker will direct the ball. Sometimes, checking where the attacker is looking can help you guess where the ball will go. Likewise, you may pay attention to how the ball is placed on the ground. But do keep in mind that experienced players may give deceptive cues.
- Just before the penalty taker hits the ball, take note of their planted foot. Sometimes, where the planted foot faces indicate the direction in which the ball will go. This could give you an early clue as to where the attacker will kick the ball.
- Don’t dive before the ball is actually hit. Sometimes, penalty hitters jerk their leg or stop right before hitting the ball to trick the goalie into diving early. Due to this, it’s important to stay in place until the ball is hit.
- Study your opponents. You should research the penalty-taking habits of your opponents – particularly in decisive penalties. In cup finals or other similarly serious situations, many soccer athletes shoot in their preferred spot in the goal. This is done to minimize the risk of a miss.
Watch out for a lot of fines. You should also watch a lot of penalties to see how people move when they take shots from penalties. Try to notice patterns in how people move and where the ball goes. This may help you guess where to dive during a penalty kick.
9. Stay In Check Mentally
And finally, our list of tips for soccer goalkeepers includes having a strong mind and being sure of yourself.
Any soccer player needs to be able to keep their mind strong. But this is especially important for goalies because they have so much to do on the field.
Mistakes and failures happen, and you shouldn’t let a few missed goals get you down. Keep your cool and encourage your teammates to do the same. If you stay calm, there is still a chance that things will turn out for the best.
Aside from making mistakes during the game, you should be able to deal with mental obstacles that may be on your team. Practice doesn’t always go well, and if you have trouble getting along with your coach, that can add to the stress you feel as a goalkeeper.
Be sure of your skills and remember that you worked hard to get to where you are now. Your effort hasn’t been in vain.
Learn to pay attention to the good things and ignore the bad ones. Talk to a sports psychologist if you need to. They can help you find and deal with mental problems and boost your confidence.
Lastly, don’t feel bad if your team loses. Ten other players on your team are also responsible for the game’s outcome, even if it’s your job to save the goal when others make mistakes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Perfect Height For A Goalkeeper?
There is no “right” height for a goalkeeper. The taller you are, the better.
The average height of goalkeepers in the English Premier League is 6 feet 5 inches, while the average height of goalkeepers in all UK domestic leagues is 6 feet 2.5 inches. In comparison, the average height of a man in the UK is 5 feet, 10 inches.
Still, there have been very short goalies in soccer, but they are not the “norm” for the sport. With a height of only 1.66 meters, Paraguayan goalkeeper Pedro Bentez is thought to be the shortest goalie in soccer history (5 feet, 5 inches). The goals were the same size as they are now, so it wasn’t like being short was okay back then.
You don’t have to fail as a goalie just because you are short. But being short will hurt you if you don’t have other skills, like a fast reaction time, that no one else has. To begin with, if you are short, you are unlikely to be selected for a team.
How Can I Improve My Goalie Skills?
In short, to become a better goalkeeper, you should work on the following:
- Positioning and control of the penalty box
- Costs of not saving.
- How to talk to your teammates
- Having a strong mind.
- Reflexes, quickness, and strength of body.
Are Goalkeepers Allowed To Score?
Yes, goalies can score just like any other player on their team. Most of the time, goalies stay in their own penalty area, so this doesn’t happen very often. But in the last few seconds of the game, when their team needs to score to win or tie, some goalies do leave the penalty area to help their team attack.
So, balls that go into the other team’s goal don’t count as goals. Check the rules of your league or association to see how fouls from throws are handled.
Can Goalkeepers Pick Up A Throw-In?
Goalies can’t catch a throw-in that one of their teammates does.
Can Goalkeepers Wear Hats?
Goalies are the only players on the field who can wear caps.
Can Goalkeepers Get A Red Card?
Goalies can get a red card for very bad plays. When this happens, the offending goalkeeper’s team is cut down to 10 people. Then, one of the field players has to leave to make room for the backup goalkeeper.
And that’s the end of my advice for soccer goalkeepers.
To be a good goalie, you have to do a lot of things. But if you use the tips I gave you above, you move forward in the right way.
Obviously, you need to keep working on your skills and personality to keep getting better, adapting to changes on the field, and protecting the goal area well.
When you work hard, you get better. So make sure you work hard enough when you train to be a goalkeeper.