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Six More Secrets to Success
PART TWO: A Goalkeeper's Guide
By Peter Mellor
U.S. National Teams Goalkeeper Coach & Coordinator



"Beat me if you can!"
Remember that once a goalkeeper has committed himself to go to the ground, he is basically out of the game. How often have you been confronted with a 1v1 situation and the opposing player has given you a little fake and you have gone to the ground too early, making the opposition's task easier? The longer you stay on your feet and delay the opposing player, the more pressure you place upon him or her. Also, by delaying your opponent, you enable your defenders to recover and get back to help you. Only go to ground when you know you are going to get the ball or a piece of it in tight circumstances (50/50). Wait for the opponent to lose control of the ball, or for separation of the ball from his/her playing distance.

How often have we been caught rocking backwards, from being on our toes, to end up on our heels and literally fall on our rear? This happens more often when an opponent is shooting from close range. In this instance it is more important that we attack the ball and present a second barrier to the goal, just in case we cannot get our hands to the ball.


It is important that we make sure that when an opponent is about to shoot that our feet are set, and we are not caught moving. This will then set us up to go for the ball once we know where it is going. Do not set your feet too wide apart. Try to get them approximately shoulder width apart. Get your body in the "gorilla position".

  Cannot dive sideways from this stance.

SIDE DIVING (to the side and on the side)

Your side diving techniques to both left and right and your shape are very important in catching the ball. Never belly flop on your stomach or roll on your back. Keep control of your legs throughout the dive. Even tough diving on your side you should attack the ball forward of your body, keeping your body parallel to the ground. When you land you should be making a barrier parallel with the goal. Do you use the ground as the third hand to catch (absorb) the shot you pin to the ground (third hand) and then bring the ball into your chest and curl up to protect yourself and the ball? If your goalkeeper is diving sideways, or even worse, backwards, for the ball, he or she will lose their diving shape. Where possible they should take a step forward to attack the ball.

REACT do not anticipate
How often do we think we know where the ball is going before the opposition plays the ball, and then find ourselves anticipating and moving the wrong way? Or the opposing player fakes to shoot and we buy the fake, only to find the ball went the opposite way to which we dived? Good goalkeepers react when the ball is played; they do not anticipate.

"I thought he was going to put it to my right."
"He mis-hit the shot! He meant to put it to the other side." But he didn't!

RECOVERY as quick as possible
We have all made the save that we could not hold, or maybe the save where we just get our body in the way to block the ball. However, how often do we recover quickly enough to make that second save? Recovery of down and up to your feet must continually be worked on in training.

"Down, but not out!"

These considerations, along with the first six which I covered in the lesson before, are the foundation upon which every goalkeeper should build their game. Only by continuous repetition of these fundamentals in fun situations will your goalkeepers become technically proficient.

Top professional goalkeepers spend countless hours practicing these fundamentals, striving for perfection. Remember the better your technique, the less mistakes you will make. Incidentally, the best goalkeepers are not players who do not make mistakes, they simply make the least amount.

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