The Last Line of Defense
Without your fearless soccer goalies, where would you be? They may scream at you, but that is part of their job, and maybe you deserve it? And I am sure that you are not going to go back there and dive on the ground, and on other bodies, to save the ball.
As the soccer goalie you do get some special privileges. You are the only one who can legally use your hands in soccer. Of course you can only do that in the penalty area, also known as the 18 yard box.
Putting It On The Line
Yes, soccer goalies do put it on the line:
- Dive hard to keep the ball from going into the net. And sometimes the field is pretty hard.
- Jump into the air trying to win the challenge for the ball. And other players often land on them.
- They will face down a shooter from just 12 yards away on penalty kicks. 12 yards! And you expect them to stop that penalty kick every time.
They should be respected.
What a Goalkeeper Needs
Soccer goalies, like all soccer players, will need the right soccer goalkeeper gear in order to play properly. Some people will call it soccer goalkeeper equipment. I leave that up to you. What soccer goalies need:
- A durable, comfortable pair of soccer cleats, or soccer shoes. It will depend on the playing surface
- Soccer shin guards will protect their lower legs.
- Soccer socks to cover the shin guards and keep them in place.
- Padded soccer shorts or goalie pants. These have padded hips to absorb the impact from dives and falls.
- A soccer goalie jersey. It is always a different color than your team’s jersey. This is so the referee can distinguish you from every other player. These also have padded elbows to reduce the shock of impact with other players and the ground.
- Soccer goalie gloves will provide that extra grip you need to make those fingertip saves.
A skilled soccer goalkeeper can make the difference between winning and losing. Their priority is to stop the ball. Obviously, as a soccer player you can help him by keeping the ball out of your end, or covering for him when he leaves his line to win the ball.
However, a soccer goalkeeper must train differently than other players due to his unique role. Performing special soccer goalkeeper drills and using medicine type balls for practice will help you to keep balls out of your net.
Keys To The Position
There are some basic keys that will get a goalie started off on the right foot, no matter what level you play at.
- Use your hands to form a “W” in front of you. Put your thumbs together and your index (first) finger together. Face your palms toward the shooter. Applying this technique when facing a shot head on will prevent the ball from slipping between your hands.
- Let the ball meet your hands. Do not try to grab the ball as if you are trying to squash a mosquito between your hands.
- Keep your body between you and the soccer goal.
- When you catch the ball bring it tightly into your body and cradle it. Or of you end up on the ground, protect that ball as if it was gold. You do not want any chance that the ball may come loose or drop to the ground, because you are always very close to the goal if you can grab the ball.
- Stay balanced. Mentally and physically.
Not Just For Defense
Although we have been talking about how this position is about stopping the ball, it doesn’t end or begin there. Soccer goalkeepers can start a play build-up with a punt, or by tossing the ball to another player.
Haven’t you seen a goalkeeper leave his goal for a corner kick late in the game? They can scores goals too! Traditionally keepers have made very good strikers. Is it their independent attitude? Or maybe because strikers and goalkeepers face each other often in a 1 vs 1 situation?