Goalkeeper Tips – Quick Ideas To Get More Saves

There are times when you’re in goal where it seems like you can’t buy a save. Trying to get away from some of these slumps can seem impossible. There are certain things though that you can do to make things better. Particularly to try and get your confidence back up. When you’re able to do that, you usually have a better chance of getting top results. I’ve crafted a couple of goalkeeper tips that can help you in a slump. Some of these pointers could actually help you solve a lot of the problems that you’re facing in the first place. Also, some of these ideas do take time to develop. 

I’m going to sound like a broken record, but obviously the more you train, the better you’ll get. Some of these tips can seem a bit obvious. Like, for example, catching more balls instead of punching or parrying them out! That’s something that needs to be trained so that you can get comfortable to be able to apply it in a game. There are obviously other tips here that could potentially impact your game immediately. Again, though, as you get more comfortable applying them to your game you could start seeing better results. Here are some goalkeeper tips that are sure to improve your game. 

1. Can’t Seem To Reach Certain Shots? – Stand Further Off The Line    

Positioning is super important in goalkeeping. That’s why I have a full article on that. When you feel that you aren’t reaching certain shots that you probably should be getting to, the problem could be that you’re standing too close to the goal. Don’t be afraid to stand a bit further off the line. If you’re standing further away from the goal, you’ll have an easier time reaching some of those shots that are getting closer to the post. Again, a lot of us don’t feel too comfortable standing further away from the goal. Give it a try and see how it works out!     

2. Giving Too Many Second Chances? Punch The Ball Out or Make Clean Catches 

There are few things as frustrating as giving up a goal after making a good save. There are shots that you are not going to be able to control, and the only hope is that a defender gets to the ball before the striker. That being said, ideally you shouldn’t be giving rebounds. Get in the habit of trying to make clean catches when you make the save. The best way to do this is literally to train, and train, and train! This is going to give you an idea of how hard of a shot you could potentially catch cleanly. The other option that you’re going to have is to punch shots out. Make a fist instead of extending your palm. Punching shots out can be a way to deal with harder shots you can’t catch!   

3. Having Trouble With Punts? Throw The Ball Out, Get Your Teammates To Spread Out Before You Kick The Ball

A lot of goalkeepers are guilty of this one, and we see it quite a bit in the pro game, a ton in the women’s game as well. Be honest with yourself. Not everyone is going to have a rocket for a leg. When you know that, then get your team to spread out and give you a chance to find the open man. Don’t have them run out all the way to the other side of the field if you can’t get it there! Develop a throw out game. Make sure that your defenders and your midfielders really spread out so that you can give them an open short pass. If not, it’s sometimes better to have the ball go out of bounds than to give it to the other team. 

4. Your Gloves Are not Giving You Enough Grip?  Keep Them Wet

This is going to apply to some types of gloves, maybe not others. That’s just a fact of life. Usually with the typical latex gloves you’re going to benefit from keeping them wet. You want to make sure then that you keep them that way. When they are too dry, you could have trouble getting good grip. Overall, good glove care can help extend the lifespan of your gloves. At times, you just have to know when to give up on your gloves also. They just don’t last forever! Retire your gloves when they aren’t giving you enough grip. It’s better sometimes to blame it on the gloves than to lose your confidence.  

5. Feel Like You Keep Slipping? Get Shoes With More Cleats 

More often than not, we end up buying cleats because they look cool and not really because they’re going to help you on the field. This is a mistake, there is no reason to sugarcoat this. Having said that, it’s hard to find cleats that are going to serve you well on all fields. Too many cleats on a shoe can give you too much grip, so you have to be careful with that as well. For the most part though, a good tip is to get boots with more cleats if you’re having trouble slipping on a particular field.  

6. Playing on Hard Fields? – Wear More Protective Gear

This seems like an obvious one. A lot of times, though, you end up marrying yourself to the type of gear that you like to wear. For example, there are goalkeepers that always play in shorts. That’s not the worst thing in the world, but on hard fields, that can take a toll on your knees big time. Same thing with those goalkeepers that love to wear short sleeve jerseys. Again, that’s not the worst thing in the world. If the field is too hard, though, put a long sleeve jersey on at the very least. There’s a chance that you may regret not doing so. Particularly if you’re playing on those rough fields often. 

7. Goalkeeper Tips – Get Used To Taking That Extra Step

Another tip that’s going to allow you to get to some of those balls that are maybe giving you some trouble. One of the common mistakes that goalkeepers make is that they want to dive just as the shot is taken. That’s not what you’re looking for. Actually, you want to be able to take as many steps on the ground before you dive. That’s, obviously, going to allow you to have more range. This is especially important in shots that are coming in from far away. Don’t panic when the shot is taken, make sure that you take an extra step before you eventually dive.  

8. Goalkeeper Tips – Stay On Your Toes, But Don’t Jump Too Much!

Another issue that goalkeepers have to deal with is how you’re going to stand in goal. The common wisdom is that you should be standing on your toes. You don’t want to be caught flat-footed, because you’ll have to essentially take an extra, extra step to be able to dive. Not in a good way, like I mentioned before. Some players take that to mean that you should be jumping up and down before you dive. That’s not the case, because again if you’re caught in the air when the shot comes in again you’re losing that split second before you can dive it can be crucial. Not jumping, not flatfooted, make sure that you stay on your toes. Particularly when the ball is near the box! 

9. Goalkeeper Tips – Work On Endurance/Conditioning 

The last minutes of a game can be the most important. You don’t want to reach those final minutes with an empty tank of gas. You need to make sure that you can take that extra step in the 90th minute of a game to make a save. The best way to make sure that you’ll be able to do that is through conditioning. I went over this in an article about goalkeepers needing speed. It’s not that you need to be the fastest person on the pitch, but when it counts, you need to be able to take that extra step. Good conditioning is going to allow you to stay on your toes and not get caught flat-footed, even in the final minutes of a game.

10. Step Away From The Goal When Calling For A Pass Back   

One of the easiest ways to end up on the wrong side of a highlight reel is to concede a goal after a mishandled pass back from a teammate. If you want to avoid this, you need to make sure that you put yourself in a position away from the goal when calling for the ball. Of course, this is something that you should probably look to train with your teammates. That way they’ll know what spots you’ll be standing in when you call for the ball. Sometimes it’s inevitable, and you have to handle a pass back in the middle of the goal. When you can avoid it, though, make sure to do so. 

11. Goalkeeper Tips: Wear What’s Comfortable, Not What’s Fashionable 

This one is especially true for some of us old timers that are going out to Sunday league games. A lot of the new gear is tight around that waist. If you were the typical under armor shirt, you may not be able to lift your arms even! When your clothes start fitting too tight, it’s a sign that you need to up the ante in training, for sure. For the time being, though, make sure that you wear clothes that are not going to limit your mobility. With kids, usually it’s the opposite, don’t get them clothes that you want them to grow into. They are uncomfortable to play in!  

12. Ease Into Diving

This is one of those goalkeeper tips that applies to everyone! Don’t try and just get to the field and dive across the goal like your superman. Stretch, do enough warm up drills where you fall to the ground and ease into making those long dives. There are a lot of things that can go wrong if your body is not ready to put forth a full effort. 

There’s actually another part to this tip. If you’re new to goalkeeping, ease to major dives after various training sessions. Particularly, if you’re not someone who is overly athletic to begin with. No worries, if you’re patient, and you train properly you’ll be diving from post to post in no time. Don’t rush it, though, you can and most likely will get hurt!  

13. Don’t Be Afraid To Use Your Feet To Make Saves    

Thomas Bresson, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A lot of coaches are super against this. I’m actually not one of the goalkeepers that hates saves with your feet. I think it’s great if a goalkeeper has an innate ability to stretch their feet out and make a save, particularly in low running shots near your body. It’s easier to try and get someone like that to use their feet less. Then to say, don’t use your feet at all and just rely on your hands. There are a lot of reflex saves that you’re only going to be able to make with your feet. Actually, doing some of those futsal drills can potentially benefit normal football goalkeepers, for sure! 

14. Train With A Ball That Is Adequate For Your Age 

Trying to train kids with official match size 5 balls is a mistake. They are going to have a lot of trouble perfecting a proper catching technique. For the simple reason that the ball is just too big for them. There’s a good reason why there are different sizes for soccer balls. Doing this is not only going to help kids perfect their catching technique. It’s also a great way to help avoid all sorts of injuries, and quite frankly unnecessary shots to the face! Yes, it happens a lot more than we want to admit. Even to the best of them.   

15. Train For The Unexpected 

This tip could be paired with the one about making saves with your feet. A lot of times, though, you need to be able to have a sense of how to move your body in a quick reaction. That’s why training with tennis balls is popular, using a wall, or putting a bunch of cones in front of the goal that could alter a shot also works. While some goalkeepers are going to have an easier time developing some of these reflex save skills, working on them should be a must. Nothing is game-like about only saving the perfect shots that can come at you in training. I would make the argument that sometimes trying to save shots from novice players can be more difficult, because you really don’t know where the ball is going to go. Train for that. 

Goalkeeper Tips: Conclusion 

I’ll be looking to add to this list of Goalkeeper tips as things come up. I’m sure that there are a lot of things that I missed, and actually, I had a tougher time coming up with the list the first time around. Taking the laptop to the training ground may do the trick, because that’s really when a lot of the issues come up. It’s also when, with multiple goalkeepers working together, we have a better chance of coming up with a viable solution to a particular issue.