Coaching goalkeeper skills in youth soccer

Coaches should start training goalkeepers to catch the ball (with both hands) by initially rolling the ball toward them – slowly at first. This practice can be done from a kneeling position initially. Varying the position of the ball from straight at the goalkeeper to either side of him will train his reflexes and his hand eye coordination.

Bringing the Ball Toward the Chest

Speed can be built up as the goalkeeper becomes more confident. When catching the ball, the goalkeeper must bring the ball into his chest whenever possible, moving slightly forward as he does so (he must not step back over the goal line holding the ball at any time, so practicing moving forward will get him into the right habit).

As the goalkeeper becomes proficient from the kneeling position, the coach can move on to throwing the ball either side of him in the air. Throwing the ball (initially) will give the goalkeeper (particularly young ones) confidence. When he is comfortable catching the ball at a relatively slow pace, the coach can then move on to kicking the ball.


The hardest save a goalkeeper will be asked to make is from a penalty kick. However, many games are won or lost with penalties so the goalkeeper must prepare for them. The odds are stacked against a goalkeeper during this play, but he can do a number of things to improve his chances.

The goalkeeper must stand in such a way as to make himself look as big as possible, spread eagle is ideal for this. He must ensure he is positioned exactly in the center of his goal and he must make sure his gloves are clean. Although it is technically against the rules, he can move slightly as the penalty taker is moving toward the ball with the hope of distracting him; for example, leaning slightly left before diving right can influence the penalty takers shot.

Dive the Right Way

Most professional players kick the ball so hard there is little chance of the keeper reacting fast enough to dive the correct way. Therefore, a good keeper will dive at the last possible moment with the hope that he is going the right way (building up knowledge of the other teams penalty takers is important as most kick the same way every time).

The coach must work with the keeper to increase his positional awareness. This is particularly important during a corner.

Covering Attackers

The keeper will often position a defender on the goal line against the far post during a corner. The keeper will also instruct his defenders to mark or cover certain players on the attacking team, and will try to catch or clear the ball as decisively as possible (often shouting ‘mine’ as he jumps above his defenders to catch a ball). The coach must train the keeper to remain on the goal line until he is sure he can catch the ball.

Practice Throwing the Ball

After a successful save, the keeper will look for an advantage in getting the ball into the attackers half (or further) as fast as possible. During an attack, the opposing team will have pushed forward and this can create openings at the back if the keeper can return the ball quickly after a thwarted attack. Coaches must work on long kicks (either as a goal kick from the ground or after a short run while holding the ball), and also throwing the ball. Throwing the ball should be more precise than kicking; therefore if a keeper can locate a forward accurately by throwing the ball, his team can gain a possession advantage.

A good youth soccer coach will be working to improve not just the keeper’s ball and area control skills, but also his confidence. A team’s keeper is critical to the success of the entire team. He will not only stop the opposition from scoring, but he will also create chances for his forwards to score from. The coach must not overlook this critical player.

Defending a Corner Kick

An entire game’s worth of good soccer can go to waste in seconds when a team gives up a goal on a corner kick.

Set plays can be the difference or the great equalizer in soccer, and a team must be prepared to defend them. The moment the referee or referee’s assistant signals for a corner kick, the team must spring into action.

A good deal of defending a corner kick happens before the ball is ever even put back into play and the goalkeeper is responsible for seeing it get done. More on a corner kick than any other time in soccer, the goalie must take charge.

Defend the Posts

The very first thing a goalkeeper should do is tell someone to defend the near post. Often times, the goalkeeper has one or two designated players he uses to mark the near post each time. However his method, there should be someone on the post within seconds.

The keeper’s second order of business should be getting the far post taken care of. After the posts are secured, the keeper can move onto marking.

Everyone Must be Marked

Mark every attacking player near the goal. Man-to-man is the best and usually the only method of defending so many players in a confined area. The keeper must make sure the defending player is on the goal side of the attacking player he is marking.

When possible, the sweeper should be free. There are situations where he’ll have to mark, but try to avoid it, even if that means a striker will have to make his way all the way back into his own box to mark.

The sweeper must be preoccupied with getting to the ball or serving as a contingency plan, should an offensive player break away from the his mark.

After everyone in the immediate vicinity is marked, the keeper can then turn his sights up the field. Players that are 25 or 30 yards away should be watched. However, the player in charge of marking them should not venture past that 20 yard threshold. Wait until the player starts his run, then pick him up. Often times, those players don’t come in at all.

Remember that some corner kicks do not come in the form of inswinging or outswinging crosses. Should there be another available defensive player other than the sweeper, have that player set up in the space in front of the kicker, thus effectively marking the short pass.

Get to the Ball and Clear Out

The goalie try his best to get to everything. If the ball is out of reach, he should call “away” and a defender must get his head on the ball.

Once the ball clears the box, the defensive players shouldn’t be far behind. If the offense was to regain possession, you have created an offside trap.


Author: knowledge herald

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