The Perfect Positioning for any Goalkeeper
July 30, 2010
Positioning is one of the biggest componenets in goalkeeping. You never want to sit on your line, too far, because that allows the opposition to shoot on most of the goal. You don’t want to be too far off of your line, either. That will allow the opposition to chip over your head and still get the ball in the back of the net.
So where’s the perfect place to stand, you ask? Well that depends. Sometimes it’s good to be back a little farther, sometimes it’s good to be up a little closer, and sometimes it’s good to stand a little toward the right or left. It’s all about angles and covering your territory.
Let’s break it down into three components: breakaways, crosses, and free kicks.
Breakaways: Being a keeper on a breakaway is one of the toughest parts of the game. As the person is running in, you don’t want to run back, because you will give them more room to shoot around you. At this point, the closer they get to you, the closer you want to get to them. You want to make sure you come off your line as they are coming in to take away the space for them to shoot. You don’t want to come out to fast, because one move and they’re around you. You can’t come out too slowly, either, that just gives them more space. Positioning on a breakaway is similar to defending in the backfield. You want to contain and wait for the ball to get just far enough from them and just close enough to you so that you can dive and snatch the ball away.
Make sure you come out at an angle to cover you near post (it’s always harder for the opposition to shoot on the far post). A general rule of thumb is to come at an angle that if you dive forward and to your right, your hands block everything from the right post to your feet. If you dive forward and to your left, you cover everything from the left post to your feet.
Crosses: Crosses are difficult to judge sometimes. You don’t want to be stuck on your line, becuase a cross could come into the center, giving the opposition the whole goal to shoot on. You want to be somewhere (depending on your range) around the top of the 6-yard box. If you have a bigger range to dive or you can recover faster than most keepers), then coming out a little further is alright. If you have a smaller range to dive or you recover slower than most keepers, then a step or two closer to your line is alright.
When the ball is crossed, the 6-yard box should be considered “your area”. Anything that you can get to in your 6-yard box, you call! If it’s way over your head, shift back toward your line a bit, and break down the angle. If it’s too far out into the center, shift back toward your line a bit and break down the angle. Crosses are all about knowing your range and knowing where your goal is. You have to own “your area” and know what you’re capable of.
One thing to keep in mind, especially on crosses that come from the corner (or on corner kicks) is that it is always easier to run forward than it is to run backwards. Sometimes it’s okay to stand toward the far two-thirds of the goal to cut back on the balls that go over your head. Make sure you aren’t too far back, though, because some good players can bend the ball into the near post!
Free Kicks: Free Kicks are always based on where the ball is and how far out the ball is. If it’s something to the side, play it like a cross and own the 6-yard box. If it’s something close and to the middle, set up a wall on the near post and make sure you have the far post covered. If it’s far enough out that you don’t need a wall, make sure you cover the near-post/far-post angles like you would any shot, but stand back a little farther because free-kicks are often kicked up and over. You don’t want to get chipped on a free-kick.
You can use what you know about breakaways and crosses to determine positioning on free kicks. First of all, the angle you need to cover uses the same rule oft humb that breakaways use. If you dive forward and to the right, you should be able to cover the whole right post. If you dive forward and to your left, you should be able to cover the whole left post. Second, remember that it’s always easier to run forward than it is backwards. On close free kicks, it’s okay to even start behind the goal line a little, to give yourself awareness on the ball, and allow yourself to come out with momentum to either dive or punch the ball over.
No matter the situation, make sure you communicate to your players! Make sure you own your area, and make sure you let your players know if you have the ball or not. Make sure you guide the wall, and make sure you tell your players if you are out of position. All keepers can get out of position sometimes, but if you communicate, your defenders can often cover for you!
By Bonnie Kuhn.