It can be hard to practice “Play-Practice-Play” in goalkeeper training. In this post we discuss one of our favorite ways to end a session – “Keeper Frisbee”, sometimes called “American Frisbee”. This “game situation” allows young keepers to practice catching, throwing, movement, diving, and communication, under pressure, with multiple obstructions, and in a safe environment with minimal contact. Oh, and they can score goals!.

Keeper Frisbee – the rules

We’re going to play a game, and games benefit from rules. They help us set objectives (win, score) and keep us all honest and fair (dos and don’ts), while ensuring we all remain safe.

typical 5-aside game, two goals and cones in the four-corners

The basic rules of the game

  • Two teams, no more than 12 a-side – one wears colored pennies
  • Field is marked with cones and two “goals” – preferably real 5-aside goals but you can use flags or cones (or coats).
  • They start with a “throw-off by one side from the centre”, repeated after a goal. Both teams are “behind the ball “to start.
  • Each player with the ball attempts to throw the ball to another teammate who must catch the ball.
  • By throwing and catching you “make yards” towards the goal.
  • The player with the ball can move ON ONE FOOT ONLY- like basketball – to get a better throwing position.
  • If they move BOTH feet then its a “traveling” foul and ball passes to the opponents at that point.
  • If the balls hits the ground after hitting ANYONE (eg one of your teammates or an opponent) , you pass the ball to the opposing team who start from that point.
  • If the ball hits the ground without hitting ANYONE then the opponents take the ball FROM where the ball was thrown, NOT where it landed.
  • Obviously the “Hail Mary” throw is tempting, but if the ball hits the ground without hitting anyone, you lose a lot of “yards”.
  • Worst case, if you throw (and hit the ground) from your own goal-line, its going to be hard to defend!
  • The defender is allowed to block and hassle the player with the ball but must not touch them – like basketball.
  • No more than two opponents may “defend” the player with the ball – NO CROWDING!
  • If a foul is committed (eg knocking the ball out of the players hands) then the ref can (at their discretion) move the ball 10 yards forward – so don’t do it!. Otherwise play on, with original player in possession.
  • Scoring a goal – the ball can’t be thrown into the goal. It has to be passed to a player who can, lifting atmost ONE FOOT off the ground, HOLD the ball over the goal line between the posts. If the player “scoring” dives they must have one foot on the ground – so no “Hail Mary dives”! See the pic below as an example.
player in green passes (dotted line) to his teammate who “holds the ball over the line” to score.
  • After a goal, go back for a “center throw off”
  • If the ball goes out of play behind the goal-line (eg a player runs past the line with the ball) it goes to the defending team – so no “corners” just throw-ins and “goal kick-throws”.
  • If the ball goes off the side of the field the ball passes to the opposing side (ie NOT the last team to touch the ball) just like in soccer.

Aim of the game

The aim is clear, pass amongst your teammates to get close to the goal, and then “hold” the ball over the line to score.

The passing and catching is crucial. But so is the movement off the ball, to make a pass easier to complete, and communication is essential. It can be noisy with everyone shouting, so be precise with your call “over here Sam”.

Defending is important, and making sure loose players are “picked up and marked” will minimize completed passes and win the ball back.

Remember, to win the ball, you just have to “interrupt a pass” such that it hits the ground. You can also catch it and then make a quick pass to your own player. But just “knocking” the ball to the ground wins it for your team.

Benefits to keepers

The game helps keepers in a lot of ways, including;

  • catching, especially under pressure from players around you, the hectic nature of the game makes catching hard, but if you drop it, the penalty can be severe if you’re close to goal.
  • throwing, which young keepers are often challenged by, becomes a key way to pass. Use all the techniques to “throw” – over-arm, baseball, and underarm.
  • movement, which all keepers need to practice and achieve, is a core part of the game.
  • diving, ether to catch a loose thrown pass, or to score.
  • communication, which most keepers need to learn and practice, is another core part of game.
  • dealing with chaotic environments, under pressure with multiple obstructions, is a basic part of goalkeeping. Goalmouths are often crowded during set pieces or strong attacks, and learning “peripheral vision” and awareness is in-valuable.
  • safe environment with minimal contact – the keeper can expect no kicks or rough tackles, but they still have to cope with some contact.
  • celebrity– How often does the keeper get to score the winning goal? Yeah!

Tips for Coaches – Confidence Cohesion Technique

This game is a great way to end a session for all players, not just goalkeepers. Give it a try in your main practices. Say 5-10 mins, and a change of ends if there’s a wind.

The kids will have fun, get a lot of exercise, build team cohesion and learn to better communicate.

Your keepers will learn of the techniques of the above, while building cohesion with their teammates. Their confidence will grow,