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Be prepared to move [other players] by your determined run and jump, and always be aggressive. Polite goalkeepers may be nice to know, but they don't win matches!
    -- Alan Wade, Coach Yourself Soccer
Parrying High Balls
Parrying Balls Around the Post
Quick Reference/Mistakes to Watch For
Related Blog Entries
Parrying around the Post
Parry over the Crossbar

There are a few occasions when a goalkeeper will not be able to catch the soccer ball. It still must be kept out of the net, of course, so sometimes the keeper must deflect the ball over the crossbar or around the post. For high crossed balls in traffic, sometimes the safest play is to knock the ball way from the goal area if it cannot be caught. These are more advanced techniques, and often not as useful for very young keepers (particularly parrying shots over the bar, where a small keeper is as likely to just push the ball into the top of the net).


A ball may be too far away to catch cleanly, but sometimes just a fingertip to the ball can be enough to send it high or wide. Parrying, or tipping, is the technique used to do this.

Coaching PointThe open hand (heel of the palm or fingertips, depending on the save) should be used to redirect the ball, not the fist. Extended fingers have a few more inches of reach than the fist in addition to having more control. MistakeDon't let your players try to punch the ball around the goal - punching is reserved for crossed balls and is discussed separately below.

Parrying High Balls

820K Movie820K MovieThe most common use of parrying is to get to balls chipped over the goalkeeper's head. The technique is very similar to how a baseball fielder might play a similar ball hit over them. The basic steps are these:

  • Decide (quickly!) which side the ball is going to. If it's coming directly at the keeper, they should just pick their most comfortable side.
  • Get the hips pointed in the proper direction - turn left if going back to the left, turn right if going back to the right. This can also be accomplished by simply taking one step back with the foot on that side.
  • Use a crossover step to get back as quickly as possible.
  • Power step upwards, slightly backwards (the only time a keeper will ever be allowed to go backwards!) and through the ball. The keeper should aim to get to the ball as high as possible - above the level of the crossbar if they can.
  • Get the opposite side hand to the ball. If the ball is on the left, for example, the keeper should use the right hand. This is because as the keeper turns sideways, Coaching Pointthe opposite hand becomes the "top" hand and will be closest to the soccer ball.
  • Use the fingers and top of the palm to simply direct the ball straight up. The momentum of the ball will provide enough energy to get over the bar. MistakeThe ball should not need to be pushed up over the bar - if it's coming slowly enough to require a good push, it should probably be caught instead of parried. In addition, the palm should always face forward - Mistakethe keeper should not turn the palm towards the goal and try to push or "dunk" the ball backwards over the crossbar.
  • Don't worry too much about the landing. Some keepers like to use their twisting momentum to roll out of the landing; others just land however they fall.

Good footwork, from hip turn to crossover to power step, is critical to a good parry over the crossbar. Mistake A keeper should never back straight up on a ball over their head - it puts their weight on their heels and can lead to balls pushed into the top of the net, or worse yet, a bruised tailbone as they fall over backwards.

Parrying Balls Around the Post

The technique for tipping balls around the post is similar to that for extension diving, except only one hand is used. Which hand? The closest to the ball. For low balls, this will be the one on the ball side, or the bottom hand once the keeper dives. For high balls, the hand on the far side should be used, as this will be the top hand when the keeper is horizontal.

To parry a ball around the goalpost:

  • Use good footwork to get into position for the dive
  • Explode through the ball, forward at an angle, using extension diving technique
  • Lead with the hand closest to the ball, using the heel of the palm to deflect the ball outside the post. The heel of the palm provides the most solid surface to contact the ball while still maintaining some control.

Coaching PointMake sure the keeper goes forward at an angle when parrying around the post - the ball will not be caught, so a goalkeeper diving backwards will all too often just deflect the ball into the side netting.


Punching, or boxing, is used to clear away crossed balls that cannot be caught, usually in heavy traffic. It is not a technique used often, as the ball should be caught whenever possible, but can be very effective in allowing a keeper to demonstrate they have complete control over their goal area. If there is any doubt for a keeper that they they will not be able to catch a cross, it should be punched. "When in doubt, punch it out" (but remember this applies only to crosses, not shots!).

Punching hand position
The three keys to an effective punch are:

  1. Width - getting the ball towards the sidelines, out of the center of the soccer field
  2. Distance - getting the ball as far away from the goal as possible
  3. Height - getting the ball over the attacking players

The proper hand position for punching is important for best control and for avoiding finger injuries. The hands should form a fist, with the Coaching Pointfour fingers forming a flat surface, and the thumb pressed firmly against the side of the fist but below the flat surface out of harm's way. The flat surface allows for the most control, as well as getting sensitive knuckles out of the way. MistakeDo not tuck the thumb inside the fingers, as this is just asking for a hand injury.

Punching can be done with one hand or both hands. This is determined by the direction you want the ball to go: Coaching Point If you are trying to send the ball back in the direction it is coming from, use two hands. If you want the ball to continue away in the same direction it is already going, use a one-handed punch.

Movie A two-handed punch starts with the fists placed together to form the largest surface possible. The hands should start close to the body, elbows at the sides, and then explode through the ball, utilizing back and hip muscles as well, to drive the ball high, far and wide of the goal. Often a weak punch results when Mistakethe ball is struck with arms already extended, so make sure the hands start from close to the body.

168K Movie168K Movie The hand takes the same shape for a one-handed punch as for a two-handed punch; use the flat surface formed by the fingers. Use a one handed punch to box the ball in the same direction it is already going: use the arm on the same side the ball is coming from, and punch in a powerful, compact motion across the body to send the ball on. MistakeAvoid a wide, looping swing as this does not generate much power. This should be a punch, not a slap!

Quick Summary - Parrying:

Mistakes to Watch For:

Use drop step & crossover to go back on the ball
Use opposite (top) hand on high balls, same side (low) hand on wide balls
Drive though the ball
Use open hand and fingers to guide the ball around post
For wide balls, go forward at an angle
Using fist to deflect ball around goal
Backing up on heels for balls over head
Pushing ball upwards with full hand
Turning the palm and pushing ball backwards or "dunking" it

Quick Summary - Punching:

Mistakes to watch for:

Use for crosses that cannot be caught
Try for maximum width, distance and height
Fingers form flat surface, thumb behind fist
Two hands to send the ball in the opposite direction; one hand to continue it in the same direction
Start with hands in, elbows out, and drive through the ball
Fingers not forming flat punching surface
Thumbs tucked inside fist
Punching with arms already extended
Wide, looping swing on a one-handed punch

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