Goalkeepers are rare animals and we like to preserve them. Consequently, we need you to look after yourself. You have the most dangerous position to play and there are several situations where you need to take care. Remember, you’re not wearing protective padding like the hockey keeper (pic above).

Catching the ball – whether high or low, expect other players to be trying to get there first, with a head or a foot. Be careful of being kicked, and always clutch the ball into your chest and perhaps roll away from danger. 

Diving at the feet of opponents – similar to catching, try to gather the ball and clutch it into your chest. This discourages players from kicking out at the ball. If you fear a kick, use one arm to protect yourself, especially your face, as you gather the ball with the other arm. I prefer to use the lower arm to gather and the upper arm to protect my face (pic on left). If diving to the left, this will leave the right arm to protect, and the lower, left arm to gather. As you roll with the ball, raise your upper leg a little to provide protection, avoiding deliberately kicking an opponent. This will offer additional protection. See how the girl in the photo (pic on right) raises her upper leg, and tucks her head in. 

Most of all: safeguard the ball, and roll up into a ball. Remember, the referee will protect you after a play, but during the play you have to protect yourself.

It’s worth knowing the rules, especially regarding possession – when you can expect the referee to protect you. Read more detail here and here.

Use your body and legs to make the save. You don’t have to dive at a striker’s feet all the time. Sometimes the most effective (and safest) way to make the save is with an outstretched leg, as this keeper shows in the photo .

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When jumping, use one leg to protect yourself if you can, as this keeper does.

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Above all, be careful – there is always another game, but there isn’t another you.