As if making a save wasn’t hard enough, there are often “obstructions” in a crowded goal mouth – team mates and opponents – which get in the way, or worse. In this short post we look at a drill that helps keepers navigate those obstructions, and make quicker decisions.

Footwork pays dividends.

When the goal mouth or penalty box is crowded with other players (and even officials) it can be hard navigating around them. Take for example a corner kick. There will surely be opponents trying to “crowd the keeper”, while your teammates will also be trying to clear the ball from danger. While simply pushing them out of the way may seem tempting, it’s illegal and can result in a (yellow or even red) card and a penalty. A better (and more legal) way is to use good footwork. This drill will help speed up footwork and decision making, helping a keeper decide how to get to the danger spot and make the save.

The Obstruction drill.

In this drill, the keeper stands on one post, facing a batch of cones positioned near the penalty spot. There are also flags set about 1.5 yards from the other goalpost, near the 6yrd box line.

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On hearing the coach shout “go”, the keeper moves through the first “flat  red cones” and jumps over the taller orange cones, to face the first coach.

The coach will take a shot at the keeper, preferable close to the body, allowing a quick save.

The keeper quickly loses the ball, and recovers to move swiftly around behind the cones and towards the far goalpost.

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The keeper then faces a shot from the second coach, between the flags and the far post. 

The coach will attempt to make this shot as difficult as possible, away from the keeper, high or low and close to the flags or the post, but time it to allow the keeper some form of “set”.

If the ball goes into the goal the opposite side of the flags, it is considered saved. The only valid target for the coach is the zone between the flags and the goalpost, but to the full height of the goal.

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The drill should be performed several times, before moving the flags to the exact place on the other side of the goal.

Tricks of the trade

The secret to this drill is speedy footwork, and dealing with the first shot quickly. Don’t dwell on the save, and don’t bother to catch it. The idea is to simulate parrying a shot in a crowded goal mouth then getting up and making a second save near the post. 

The second coach can determine when it’s fair to take the second shot. Too soon and the keeper has no chance. Too late and the keeper is already well “set” for the shot.

Also the second shot can use the full height of the goal, and as long as it’s between the flags and the post, is valid. 

Tips for coaches – Confidence Cohesion Technique

Any coach can utilize these drills with their keeper. The objectives are the same – enhance footwork, follow the ball better with the eyes, and judge the pace and flight of the ball.

A coach can use any one of the drills independently, and involve multiple players, especially attackers, to sharpen their skills too.

Try to encourage the keeper to use these skills – their footwork, their eyes and reflexes, and be brave to make the judgement calls and decisions that will come up regularly in games.