He was the first goalkeeper who had the audacity to leave the penalty
area and lead the attack. Heightening the danger, on more than one
occasion this Argentine even took the enormous risk of dribbling past
opposing players. Before Carrizo, such insanity was unthinkable. Then
his audacity caught on.
— Eduardo Galeano, Soccer in Sun and Shadow
The goalkeeper is the last line of defense, but also the first line of
attack. I am not advocating attempting to dribble the entire field
starting from your own goal like Amadeo Carrizo, but a quick restart to
the attack can be very effective. After a save is made, the keeper must quickly look to break out
and start the counter. This is especially true after the
change of July 1, 2000 eliminating the four-step limitation and
requiring the goalkeeper to put the ball back in play after 5-6 seconds.
Distribution can be done two ways: throws or kicks. Both have
advantages for certain situations.
A goalkeeper may simply drop the ball to the ground and take the kick
normally, especially if they have a big foot. When more distance is
required, to break pressure or for younger players, a punt or drop
kick is used.
A punt is usually the kick with the greatest distance, although the high
trajectory and hang time usually mean 50-50 balls at the receiving end.
Start with the ball in both hands.
It may be more comfortable to end up dropping the ball with one
hand rather than two. If so, the hand on the same side as the kicking
foot should be used (you'll see this in the video clip). But starting
with both hands will allow for more consistency in the drop.
Take a short run up (about 2-3 steps) at a slight angle to the kicking direction; this gets the
hip more involved and generates more power.
The plant foot should point
towards the target. Drop the ball - don't
toss it upwards! - and kick, following through to land on the kicking
The kicking foot should be straight, directly on line with the
target, and should not swing around
- Drop Kicks
A drop kick, where the ball hits the ground before being contacted by
the foot, gives a lower trajectory ball. This makes it better for
driving into the wind and makes it easier for teammates to receive. It
does not have quite the distance of a punt, however. The technique is
very much the same as a punt, except the kick is timed so the foot
strikes the ball just after it bounces on the ground.
The drop kick has a distinctive "ba-DUM" sound you can listen for: the
"ba" is the ball hitting the ground; the "DUM" is the foot striking the
ball a fraction of a second later.
Timing is everything for both punts and drop kicks.
Just like free-throw
shooting in basketball, kicking distribution must be practiced over and
over until the timing becomes automatic. Don't be discouraged when
kicks are very inconsistent at first - time and lots of practice will
Goalkeepers ought to take their own goal kicks if possible. This
allows the defense to push out and keep attackers from lurking
about near the penalty area and ensures that defenders are marked up
and organized in case of a quick change of possession.
As with punts and drop kicks, technique is the key. Power is usually
less of an issue than the ability to get some loft on the ball to
increase the distance. Keys to getting a good goal kick are:
Approach the ball from a slight angle. This will allow the hip
flexor to get involved more and generate more leg speed. Make
sure the follow through is straight at the target, though.
|Fig. 1: Long stride|
- The ankle of the plant foot should be just behind the ball and the
body should be leaning back. This differs from shooting technique!
If the plant
foot is too close to the ball, it will be difficult to get any height on
The final step into the kick should be a long, smooth stride (Fig. 1). This also
helps generate leg speed. A short, choppy run-up won't allow a proper leg swing.
The toe needs to be pointed slightly outwards (ankle locked!) in order to get the
foot under the ball (Fig. 2). This is probably the most crucial point. Although
a goal kick is an instep drive, you want to use the inside of the
shoelaces, not the top. The foot should be angled outward so the
contact point is on the lower half of the ball, just above the first
joint of the big toe on the inside of the instep (Fig. 3). An analogy I like to use is that
of a golf wedge versus a driver. The foot should be more like a wedge
in order to get under the ball and give the it proper trajectory and
|Fig. 2: Foot angle|
If the kicks are long but tend to curl and affect accuracy, watch
the point where the foot strikes the ball. With an angled approach and
long swing, the natural tendency will be to hit an "inswinging" ball; to
counteract this, the strike point should be just to the "inside" of the ball
(just to the left of center
on the ball for a right footed kicker, vice versa for lefties).
|Fig. 3: Ball contact|
If a keeper is struggling to get the ball off the ground, it can be
helpful to try working off a "tee" at first: a tall tuft of grass, flat
cone, etc. This will allow more space to get under the ball. Once that
is working well, lower the ball. You shouldn't need a specialized
keeper coach to help with goal kicks; any good soccer coach should be
able to help you tune up your place kick.
A final word on kicks: let your good technique do the work for you!
A keeper who tries
too hard to "explode" the ball will likely mis-hit the ball and suffer
inconsistency. Relax, and let the mechanics of the kick work for you.
Throws are usually much shorter than kicks, but much more accurate. A
quick throw right to the feet of an open teammate is often the safest
distribution. The goalkeeper has several basic throws available. I've
listed them here in order of decreasing accuracy and increasing
For the javelin, sidearm and overhand throw, the trajectory of the soccer ball
should be mostly level or even downwards, not high and looping. We want
the ball to hit the ground in front of the receiver, to give it time to settle
on the grass and make for an easy trap. A rule of thumb is to have the
ball initially hit the ground about two-thirds of the way to the
Fig. 4: The Roll
The roll (Fig. 4) is the most accurate but shortest distribution. It is also
typically the easiest for teammates to receive. Control the ball
between the palm of the hand and the forearm with a bent wrist,
step with the opposite
foot, and "bowl" the ball, making sure the fingertips touch the
ground on the delivery. This will require bending the knees and waist
to get low enough. Just
like in real bowling, you don't want to drop the ball from the hand
to the ground. The transition should be smooth.
Javelin or Baseball Throw
Fig. 5: Javelin Throw
In the middle of the accuracy and distance scale is the javelin or baseball
throw (Fig. 5). The form is similar to how a javelin is thrown. The ball starts
in the palm beside the head and is thrown straight forward as the keeper
steps into the throw. Some backspin on the ball will help it "sit down"
and make it easier to receive, so the keeper can let the ball roll
of their fingertips slightly at the end of the release to provide this.
Make sure the
are slightly over the top of the ball to keep
it on a level or downward trajectory.
Fig. 6: Sidearm Throw
The sidearm throw (Fig. 6) lies between the javelin and overhand throw in both distance
and accuracy, and also in its delivery. The arm is extended back
slightly behind the body at a "three-quarters" angle, not straight to
the side but just below shoulder level. The ball is delivered with a
bit of a slinging, sweeping motion. Because the arm position is
sideways, the best way to put backspin on this throw is by passing the
palm of the hand under the ball upon release, letting the ball roll off
the middle and index finger and the thumb. Again,
the fingers over the top of the ball so it stays low.
Fig. 7: Overhand Throw
The overhand throw or "sling" is the
longest but least accurate throw (Fig. 7). It can be a good technique for very young
players, since sometimes they can actually throw it as far as they can
punt. The soccer ball is again controlled between the palm and forearm with a
bent wrist. The arm is placed almost straight back, and as the keeper
steps into the throw, the arm is fully extended, elbow locked, and brought around in a circle,
over the head, and released towards the target. The hand should end
pointing at the target, and letting the fingertips roll under the ball
at the finish can provide some backspin to help the ball roll smoothly.
This is technically the most difficult throw. The hand must stay on
top of the ball throughout the 180 degrees or so of arc;
force keeps the ball in place, much like water stays in a bucket when
it's whirled around on a rope. The elbow must remain locked until the
release, and the release point is critical. Often times
the elbow will bend as the ball comes
over the head, destroying the flow of the throw. Make sure the elbow
stays locked, the ball comes high over the head, and then is released.
Mistakes to Watch For:
|Hold ball with both hands|
|Step into kick at slight angle|
|Plant foot should point towards target|
|Drop the ball|
|Kick straight at target and follow through|
|Goal kicks: Approach at a slight angle|
|Goal kicks: Plant foot behind ball|
|Goal kicks: Foot angled outward to get under the ball||
|Run-up uneven/too long/too short|
|Tossing the ball in the air|
|Plant foot pointing wrong direction|
|Kicking foot swinging around body instead of straight|
|Goal kicks: Approach/foot angle too straight-on|
|Goal kicks: Plant foot too close to ball|
Quick Summary - Throw Distribution:
Mistakes to watch for:
|Roll - most accuracy, least distance|
|Javelin throw - medium accuracy and distance|
|Javelin throw starts from beside head|
|Sidearm throw - medium accuracy and distance|
|Overhand throw - least accurate, most distance|
|Overhand throw must keep hand on top, elbow locked|
|Roll fingers under ball at end to provide backspin for javelin and overhand throws|
|Throws should have
low trajectory and hit the ground a bit before they reach the
|Ball drops from hand to ground on roll|
|Step with same side foot on roll|
|High, arcing throws
that are difficult to receive|
|Javelin throw does not start behind head|
|Ball not secure between palm and forearm on overhand throw|
|On overhand throw, elbow not locked or bends halfway though throw|
|Overhand throw not given full 180-degree rotation |
|Poor release point on overhand throw|