We’ve discussed before, the various hand-shapes a keeper can make, and which are best for each type of shot. For hard, high, dipping shots that are probably swerving, it’s crucial to get as much “hand” in the way of the ball, even if it’s impossible to make a catch. In this note we show how making the “triangle” with your fingers gives the strongest barrier to a hard, high shot.
In a recent European Champions League game, the Valencia keeper is called upon to make a sharp save from a snap shot from distance.
He is slow to notice the danger, as are the defenders who back off allowing the Man Utd player to hit a stunning shot high towards the right hand side of the keeper’s goal.
Once he spots the danger, the keeper is quick to move across and make a strong save, tipping the ball over the bar.
There are two key things to study from this save.
Quick foot movement
If we look at the slow-mo, we can see that the keeper makes two separate steps to his right, before diving up and across to make the save. As you watch, don’t look at the ball. Watch the keeper throughout the video. Then you’ll see the “set”, the first step, and the second small step before the dive.
Both steps are small but very quick. In the fast motion video you won’t notice them, and the second step is an adjustment as he decides the precise flight of the ball.
These small adjustments of the feet are crucial to making the best possible positioning and body-shape. The best keepers do this without thinking, and it’s down to the speed of footwork. It really is worth working on those “dancing feet”!
Make the “Triangle”
The second takeaway is the use of the triangle with the fingers – as the ball reaches the keeper it’s high and has lots of energy – it’s been beautifully struck – and it needs a lot of “hand” to stop it.
Again the slow-mo shows the way the keeper’s fingers join together at the finger tips, just as the ball hits.
This is best seen from this blurry pcture – the triangle can be clearly seen.
Takeaways for coaches
Buildng confidence with making the triangle, requires practice.
Ask one of your better strikers of the ball to hit high, hard shots slightly above your keepers head, roughly arms length above. Holding the ball and dropping it to make the shot works best.
Have your keeper start with their feet “set” firm on the floor, and their arms at waist height.
Call out “shoot”, wherein the striker takes the shot, and the keeper should quickly move their arms up above their head, bringing the hands together and the finger tips to make the Triangle.
Attempt to make the save, tipping or parrying the ball with the finger tips.
To aid the practice, have the keeper go through their part in slow motion, without a shot from the striker. Try this several times until the keeper has the choreographed motion off smoothly.
To complete the drill, have the keeper take two steps to the right and/or left before calling for the striker to make the shot.
You can add cones or rings/ladders.
The key is to have the keeper make the triangle motion while moving their feet quickly and precisely.
Good luck !