The more I compete in professional and international soccer, the more
important I find footwork development.
-- Tony Meola, foreward to The Soccer Goalkeeper by Luxbacher & Klein
Good footwork is the foundation of solid goalkeeping. If a keeper has
quick feet, they can easily get themselves into position to make the
easy catch, rather than having to dive at balls just at the edge of
their reach all the time. Good goalkeepers make every save look easy,
and the key to that is good footwork.
- Keep moving and stay on the toes.
The feet of a good goalkeeper are constantly in motion, and they
dance on the balls of the feet.
A sure way for a keeper to get beat is to have
their weight back on their heels. Watch for this! Not only does this keep them from moving
quickly to a ball, but it has bad effects on their diving and jumping.
Your keeper should have
"happy feet", always bouncing on the toes and with their weight forward.
- Stay square to the ball.
The goalkeepers hips and shoulders should always be square to the ball;
that is, perpendicular to a line between the shooter/ball and the keeper.
A common problem is
for young keepers to turn sideways when collecting
balls that aren't in front of them. Make sure they always square up - to
do this, they must also...
Fig. 1: Stay square to the ball
- Get behind the ball.
It is easiest to make the save when the ball is directly in front of them,
so they should use their feet to get behind the ball every time, if possible. A
goalkeeper uses two types of steps to do this:
If there is a long way to go, use the crossover, then end with a few quick
shuffles to adjust the final position for making the catch. A
problem, especially for young players, is to cross their
feet and trip themselves
up. Make sure right foot stays on the right, left on left.
Shuffle step - this is used for short distances. The body stays square to
the ball, the feet shuffle quickly but never cross over.
Right foot stays on
the right, left on the left.
Crossover step - used to cover more ground. Turn the hips and run in the
direction they want to go, but with their upper body facing the ball.
Again, don't cross the feet up - right on the right, left on the left.
This is not a carioca or "grapevine" step, where one foot passes in front of and then behind the other
- Move forwards to the ball.
The save should always be made forwards, moving towards the ball. This
accomplishes two important things: it allows the keeper to get to the
ball faster, and it gives the keeper the proper angle to deflect any balls
that aren't caught away from the goal.
Do not let your keeper take a step back when they catch the ball. If
anything, they should take a step forward.
- Recover quickly, and always keep your hands free.
Just because the goalkeeper goes down with a dive or slide does not mean
the play is over. A parry or deflection may keep the ball in play, and
perhaps send it right to an attacker! The goalkeeper must regain their
feet as quickly as possible.
Preferrably, this is done without using
the hands so the hands are ready to make a stop if necessary. There is
no set method for doing this, but goalkeepers should practice getting
back up quickly and without the use of their hands.
Again, footwork is the foundation of solid goalkeeping!
Often the difference between
a save and a goal is just half a step. Use the feet to get the body
behind the ball.
At the moment a shot is taken,
the goalkeeper should be square to the ball,
on their toes with their knees bent, hands at the sides, weight forward,
ready to spring
quickly in any direction. This stance is called the ready position (Fig. 2).
Fig. 2: The ready position
Even as the keeper is moving, they should always be close to this position
so they can react quickly to a shot. The keeper should almost always come to
the ready position just as a shot is taken, so they can react in any
Mistakes to Watch For:
|Keep the feet moving|
|Stay square to the ball|
|Always get the body behind the ball|
|Move forwards toward the ball|
with hands free|
|Stay close to the ready position||
|Not getting completely behind the ball|
|Back on the heels|
|Feet crossing over each other|
|Stepping backwards on the save|