Young goalkeepers are rarely good with their feet, especially when they start out. In our goalkeeping practices we usually spend some time on “kicking” as well as “positional” footwork. In this post we attempt to take the pressure out of “dead-kicking”.

Many goalkeepers have problems with taking a goal kick, not just younger keepers. Subject to the size and strength of the keeper, it boils down to a combination of kicking technique and mental attitude.

But there is a tendency for a single bad kick to turn into a sequence of bad kicks. These are independent events, so each kick should be successful even if the previous kick was bad. Yet it happens often. There has to be a reason.

We think it’s as simple as “all in the mind”. A bad kick “gets into the head” of the kicker.

Breaking the sequence

When a keeper feels they are stuck in a rut and kick after kick seems to be going wrong, it’s important to find a way of breaking that sequence.

For beginner keepers, we like the following structure or routine. It won’t work for everyone, but it will give the young keeper a template to build their own routine. Whatever you’re preferred routine looks like, always fall back upon it when you’re stuck in a rut.

  • Choose your target for the ball – left or right hand side of halfway line.
  • Place the ball on the side of the 6 yard box which makes kicking to your desired target easiest. If you’re kicking to the left, put the ball on the left of the 6 to make it easier. This doesn’t prevent you from aiming a kick from the right of the 6 towards the left hand side – just easier to achieve from the left. Same for a target on the right.
  • Place the ball like its your grandmother’s favorite fragile vase. You break it you suffer. Think about the ground – are there divots where the ball can fall into a hole?. Is the ground firm around the ball, where your “standing foot” will land. Above all, take the placement seriously.
  • Take a few steps back away from the ball, and one to the side, away from the line of the ball.
  • Then move quickly towards the ball to make the kick.
  • Try to land your “standing foot” – NOT the kicking foot – about a shoulder’s distance from the ball. In other words, about the distance between your shoulders. If your standing foot is too close to the ball you may kick your foot – ouch!
  • Place your standing foot about in line with the ball. If you’re too far in front of the ball, or too far behind the ball, you’ll mis-kick. Try it, but prepare to fall over and be laughed at!
  • Follow through with the “swing” of your kicking foot.
  • If you’ve seen golfers, they carry on swinging the club well after they’ve hit the ball. 
  • You’re doing the same. It will give more power, help aim the kick, and help balance your body – try not to fall over!.

This won’t work for every keeper. But it will give the young keeper a template from which to build their own routine. Every keeper makes a bad goal-kick. The secret is not to let it “get into your head” and put you off.  

Above all, don’t expect to get this straight away – persevere. And when you do a “bad kick” follow your procedure for the next one, having already forgotten the last one. 

Pause a few seconds and take a breath. You can do this!

Let’s break down the template above using graphics.

place the ball as though it was your grandmother’s favorite vase…
turn away from the ball and take some steps back
take one step to the side to give yourself some “angle”, then move to take the kick.
take care when placing the “standing foot” – in line with the ball, shoulder’s distance away.
drive through the ball, towards the bottom, and “follow through” with the swing.

In practice we employ a drill where we practice kicking the ball from about 3 yards from goal, straight into the net – which saves chasing the ball all night!

The keeper should aim to hit the net hard and high – about 4 foot off the ground or higher. Each keeper takes a kick in rotation. After 2 kicks each, pause to allow the coach to advise each keeper with positive comment.

Don’t forget, dead ball kicking is mainly in the head – confidence is everything.