Most coaches (rightly) want their keeper to behave like an extra outfield player. This helps defenders when the opposition “press hard”, and gives them an extra “out”.

So where should a keeper stand (the resting place) when the ball is a long way away? In this short post we discuss this controversial topic, and offer some guidance.

It depends….

There is no simple rule on resting place. It very much depends – upon a lot of things.

For example, it depends upon at least this list of things;

  • you – how confident you are.
  • your defense – do they like to use you as an outlet?
  • the opposition – are they capable of chipping or shooting from distance? If so stand further back – between 6 yard box and penalty spot
  • the weather – on a windy day, be extra careful
  • the pitch – is it slippery, or hard – if so, be extra careful and assume movement will take longer, or the ball might bounce more.
  • nighttime – the ball can get lost in floodlights at night, making it harder to get your position right.

Follow the map

This simple diagram should give you an idea of the basic resting place for normal conditions and typical opposition.

  1. If the ball is in the opponent’s final quarter, you can “rest” on the “D” on the edge of your penalty area – the red zone.
  2. Between there and the half way line, be closer to your penalty spot – the yellow zone.
  3. Just inside your own half, to about 30 yards out, you can rest on your six – the blue zone. It’s unlikely the opposition will try to chip you from there, but not impossible. be ready to swiftly move backward towards goal.
  4. Anywhere closer, in the green zone, you need to be no further out than 1-2 yds. Ideally close to the line. Your risk of being chipped is high, and you have to balance the desire to “narrow the angle and make yourself big” with the risk of being chipped. 059EFCE4-1D35-43D7-9648-25F7C2AC5ED7

The benefits of a good, high resting place

Playing “sweeper keeper” can provide your team with extra resources to mount an attack. By giving your defenders an extra “out”, the opposing team are forced to take you into account, forcing them to be “narrower”, drawing them away from your attackers, especially the wider attackers.

You can also allow your midfield to switch play more safely and effectively than a “long ball” across the field, which if intercepted, can be dangerous.

Check the diagram below, which shows both options.


Tips for Coaches – Confidence – Cohesion – Technique

Be sympathetic with your keeper – they’re playing a special role already.

But encourage them to become skillful with their feet and comfortable on the ball. Involving them in the normal practice drills as an outfielder will build their technique, and encourage cohesion with their defenders.

But most of all, hep them grow confident with their own resting place. Resist the desire to coach them into too high a resting location, even if it fits with the map above.

Most of all, resist driving them into uncomfortable locations in a game. They are in a better position to judge wind, weather, slippery pitches etc than you.

If you must, mention it at a break, but as a question, not a demand.