Goalkeepers are the heart of any soccer team’s defense. No matter how good the rest of the team is, without having enough expertise and skills in your last line of defense, you cannot stop the ball from shooting through your goalposts.
Effective goalie training is one of the most important parts of any soccer team’s coaching, but many coaches tend to overlook this aspect. In this post, we will have a look at some of the skills that are imperative for any goalie and some of the best goalkeeper drills that can instill those skills into the person guarding your goal.
What Skills are Needed in a Good Goalkeeper?
For a goalkeeper to be effective in guarding the goal, they must have the following qualities and skills. Some of these are god-gifted, but most can be learned by practice and soccer goalie drills.
- The first and the most important quality that a goalkeeper has to have is quick reflexes. This is because the soccer ball crosses the poles at an average speed of 70 mph, and only a person with the quickest reflexes can react to the ball and take action to stop it.
- The goalie must be athletic and quick to move around with good jumping ability. Once the goalie sees the ball and decides to react to stop it, they need to be physically able to execute the steps needed to do that.
- The next thing that makes a good goalie is the coordination of their muscles. As stopping the ball needs quick action, if the goalie does not have perfect coordination of their muscles, they will not be effective in stopping the ball.
- Next comes sheer power. As said earlier, the ball travels at highway speeds and has a lot of kinetic energy. The goalie must be physically strong enough to stop and/or divert the ball to prevent it from crossing the goalposts.
- Last but not least, the goalie needs to be mentally sharp and must have eyes all over the pitch to follow the ball and prepare in advance according to the movement of the ball.
There are many soccer goalie training drills that can improve all of these abilities in a goalkeeper.
The Most Effective Soccer Goalie Drills
Basic Footwork Soccer Goalie Drill
Despite being one of the most important skills for a goalie, footwork is commonly overlooked in soccer goalie training. Just have a look at the games of any of the best goalkeepers in the world, and you’ll notice that they can move around all over the box instinctively. It makes them able to be in the right spot at the right moment to stop a shoot. This seemingly simple beginner soccer goalie drill focuses on improving the footwork of goalies.
- Make a box or rectangle on the ground with four cones.
- Position the goalie in the center of the box and another player outside it.
- The player outside the box names a cone, and the goalie has to shuffle to it, touch it, and come back.
- Repeat this step 10 times, take a break, and repeat.
- You can blindfold the goalie to make the drill more challenging and to make it possible for them to move around with eyes at the pitch.
Diving saves are not only among some of the best-looking steps in a game of soccer but also give the team a huge edge. These saves can break the confidence of the opponent by blocking a ball that they think is a sure goal.
This soccer goalkeeper training drill is meant to improve the diving ability and agility of the goalie. Both beginners and pro players can benefit from this drill.
- Position the goalie in the goal in the ready position and another player about 5 yards in front of them with a ball.
- When you give the start signal, the player with the ball should throw it underhand to the left or right of the goalie.
- The goalie must dive to catch the ball and throw it back as fast as possible.
- Once the ball is thrown back, the goalie has to get back into position fast and catch the next ball.
- The drill can be made more challenging by using a tennis ball or speeding up the rate of throws.
- Repeat the drill at least 20 times, then take a break and do another 20 reps.
Sliding Save Drill
This is a goalie drill for soccer aimed at making the goalkeeper better at getting down and saving the ball from the ground. There are a lot of situations in a game where the best option for a goalie is to slide down and hold on to the ball to stop it. The best thing about this drill is that it is a solo drill, and your goalie will not need a partner for it.
- Place the ball a foot outside one of the goalposts and position the goalie in the middle of the goal.
- Once you give the signal, the goalie should quickly shuffle a few steps and then dart towards the ball.
- Once the ball is a few steps out, the goalie needs to slide down, cradle the ball, and pull it into their body.
- Repeat this drill 10 times before resting and doing another 10 reps.
- You can position the ball closer to or farther away from the goalie according to their level of experience.
- Use smaller soccer balls to make the drill more challenging.
Seated Save Drill
Just like the sliding drill, the seated save soccer goalie exercise is for teaching goalies how to have a quick reaction to an incoming ball from a seated position. Such situations are abundant in real-life game scenarios, and this drill will help the goalie stay calm and composed and react the correct way when faced with such a situation.
- Position the goalie in a seated position in front of the goal.
- A player will roll, kick, or throw the ball into the goal in random directions and the goalie has to catch it and cradle it into their body.
- Repeat the drill 20 times and then rest before another 20 reps.
- You can make the drill harder for the goalie by increasing the speed and frequency of the throws.
- Position multiple players to throw, slide, or shoot the ball to the goalie to introduce an element of surprise in the drill.
Ball handling is every bit as important for the goalie as for other players. This soccer goalie coaching exercise will teach goalies to have quick reactions and use their hands the right way in the game. Being proficient at catching the ball instills confidence in the goalie, and that is important to efficiently save goals.
- Position the goalie just outside the goal, facing the net.
- Position a player 10-15 yards from the goalie with a ball at their feet.
- The player yells “GO” just before they hit the ball.
- The goalie has to turn around, see the ball and stop it.
- The player needs to shoot near the goalie but can randomly choose any height and location (left or right).
- Repeat this drill 20 times.
Hand Agility Drill
This is a multipurpose soccer goalie drill for improving the footwork and the coordination of the hands and feet of the goalie. As these are the most important skills for a goalie to have, this drill is the most useful of the ones in this post.
- The best approach is to do this drill in front of a real goal. This acquaints the goalkeepers with the box, and they can play comfortably within it in real games. It is also helpful as the ball doesn’t get very far even if the goalie misses it. However, if a goal is not available, this drill can also be done without one.
- Set up a series of cones in front of the goal; you can get creative and make any shape that you want.
- Place two mannequins around 7 yards apart at the end of the shape made by the cones. If you do not have mannequins at hand, cones can make do.
- Position the goalkeeper on the goal line.
- Two players need to act as servers. Position them 4-5 yards from each of the mannequins with balls in their hands.
- Place 3-5 extra balls near each of the servers.
- The goalkeeper begins by quickly moving through the series of cones, maintaining proper footwork.
- After clearing the cones, the goalie needs to move quickly to the nearest mannequin.
- As soon as the goalie reaches the mannequin, the player behind it drop-kicks the ball at the goalie at chest level.
- The goalie has to quickly catch the ball and throw it back at the server.
- Once they have thrown the ball, the goalie has to shuffle to the other mannequin where they will repeat the process with the other player.
- After throwing the ball back at the second server, the goalie has to run back to the starting line, maintaining proper footwork and avoiding the cones.
- Repeat the drill 8-12 times, then rest and recover the balls. If you have more than one goalie, rotate them in the drill. Each goalie has to complete three sets of 8-12 drills.
To Make this Soccer Goalie Training Drill More Challenging
- Prohibit catches and allow only passes. The players pass the ball to the goalie, and they have to return it with a pass with a single touch.
- Instruct the servers to toss the ball high so that the goalie has to jump to catch the ball.
- The servers can toss or pass the ball wide outside (between the mannequins), and the goalie must dive to save the ball.
- Give the goalkeepers a time limit for completing a set of drills (8 to 12 reps) and keep reducing the time to make the drill more challenging for them.
- Coach your goalies to never cross their feet and take sharp and quick steps when working their way through the cones.
- Ask your goalies to make a habit of getting their bodies behind the ball when they are catching it. Coach them to move their hands and feet in coordination to achieve this.
To Sum Up
The goalkeeper is one of the most important parts of any soccer team. They are your last line of defense, and it is imperative that they are fully trained to stop the ball from coming in at any speed and from any direction.
The soccer goalie training drills listed above are just a starting point. You can expand on these or devise your drills to instill the qualities needed in a goalie that we discussed at the start of the post.