How Do Goalkeepers Kick So Far – Can You Learn To Do It?

How do goalkeepers kick so far? This is one of the questions that people have about goalkeeping. I find it really interesting that a lot of times when you see a defender kicking a goal kick more often than not you don’t see them put as much power into the shot. At the same time, for some goalkeepers goal kicks are effortless. While for some of us, they end up being a bit of a pain in the neck. Particularly because of the fact that not putting enough power behind your goal kicks can be the cause of giving up goals on a consistent basis. 

Obviously, the main purpose of this article is going to be to try and decipher how goalkeepers kick the ball so far. Yet, I also want to go over how far is far enough? Just a spoiler on that, your age ground and where you play can certainly make the answer to that vary quite a bit. Going back to what I mentioned about some defenders looking odd when they take goal kicks, this is mainly because they don’t really practice the very unique technique that comes along with making these kicks. That’s while you’ll see some defenders look mostly very stiff like they’re standing straight up when they kick. Whereas a goalkeeper will usually make the full swing if you will. 

There is no one thing that we can point to and answer the proposed question. How do goalkeepers kick so far? If you really notice different goalkeepers approach goal kicks in a variety of ways. There are some that have just tremendous leg power and that is what allows them to essentially touch the ball effortlessly and watch it fly. This is the first debate I want to cover. 

How Do Goalkeepers Kick So Far? Natural Ability or Acquired Skill?  

joncandy, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As with anything in goalkeeping and pretty much in any other sport or discipline. Most of the skills that you need to play the game are things that you’re going to be able to learn. That doesn’t mean that the learning curve may not be smaller or steeper for some folks. The first thing that you need to do is make sure that you’re hitting the ball at just the right spot. For goal kicks you’re going to want to kick the ball with the laces and hit the bottom of the ball. That’s what’s going to allow it to go far. 

If you are starting to play the game the contact spot on the ball for goal kicks is really something that you’re going to want to practice. If you can create a motion that you’re comfortable with and that you can recreate on a consistent basis that is going to allow you to hit the bottom of the ball with the laces of your shoe you’ve won half the battle. What frustrates a lot of young keepers is that some of this work is very tedious. There are not a lot of drills that you can do other than taking a bunch of goal kicks after or before practice.    

This is a lot like golf once you’ve got the technique down all that you need to do is get more leg strength to be able to kick further. I don’t think there is any sense in getting in the gym and trying to acquire more and more leg strength until you’ve mastered the technique. As I mentioned the process is going to be easier for some folks that have natural strength and a very good sense of where to hit the ball. This is a lot like learning to play golf. Some people are just going to have a knack for the game. Others are going to need to work real hard to be average. It’s tough to be in the real hard to be average crew, trust me I’m one of those. Just as a recap, the process is technique, then leg strength. The technique has to be practiced over and over again. 

What Is More Important Technique Or Leg Strength? 

I would definitely say that technique is more important. If you have all of the leg strength in the world, but you keep toe punching the ball or you keep hitting the ground or hitting the ball too high you’re not going to get the ball to go where you want it to go. There’s no sense in having a lot of leg strength and beaming hard low running goal kicks if the ball is not going where you want it to go. On the contrary with proper technique you’ll be able to put the ball where it needs to be to make a good pass even if the ball doesn’t travel that far.     

One of the good things that comes from goalkeeper training is that you’re going to essentially be “forced” to build up leg strength. At least if you’re training correctly. Even without necessarily hitting the gym and doing a leg press, you’ll be forced to constantly jump, run, change directions, and other key elements of goalkeeper training that are going to build up your leg strength. In many ways you can say that your growth as a goalkeeper will be organic if you’re putting in the work with the right drills.      

Should I Be Hitting The Gym To Improve Leg Strength? 

This is a topic that is highly debated in the coaching community these days. As I mentioned, just hitting the gym is not necessarily going to allow you to kick the ball further. Yet, adding some leg work in the gym can definitely help you improve your game in a variety of ways. For the most part I’m not a huge fan of pure weight training as a way to improve your game as a goalkeeper. Particularly at certain ages. Everything has to be balanced, there is no reason why you should be in the leg press machine every day. For pre teens and even teens that want to play in goal, I would recommend incorporating weight training into active drills. 

One of these drills can be doing sit ups with some form of added weight. Then dropping that and sprinting into a footwork exercise which ends with you having to block a shot. I’m always going to be much more of a fan of the work that can be done on the field rather than in the gym. Although, I certainly think that at the pro and college level, goalkeepers forcefully will have to be hitting the gym. It’s very important to make sure that you get a routine that is geared towards more of a lean active body type. Rather than looking to have the calves of a bodybuilder.      

How Do Goalkeepers Kick So Far: How Far Do You Really Need To Kick?    

I had a coach tell me once that if your goal kick goes over the half way line you can call that a good kick. There’s a reason for that. What you don’t want with goal kicks or clearances in general is to kick the ball way too short and have the opposition come right back at you. There are a couple of things that we need to keep in mind here. At the youth level you could be playing a shorter field, but I do think that the same concept applies. Most kids won’t be able to blast a shot from the halfway line either. Therefore that’s a good minimum to strive for. 

When it comes to distance, as I mentioned it’s all going to depend on the size of the field. Even in essentially pro fields there could be a difference in the size of the field. You could be playing on fields that are 100 to 130 yards long (90 to 120m). To be able to get the ball a bit past the halfway line you need to be able to constantly kick the ball at least around 60 yards (54 meters). That can seem like a lot. Remember though that you don’t necessarily need the ball to travel too high. With some practice, and maybe a bit of strength training you should be able to get there consistently from your early teens onward. 

Kicking The Ball Far Is Not The Only Thing That Matters   

This is a very important aspect that you would do well to keep in mind. A lot of times coaches don’t do enough to teach this properly. Particularly in certain age groups. If you can make a pass to an open teammate even if it’s well under the 60 yard mark that I was talking about I would certainly prefer that instead. If you’re always trying to clear the ball on goal kicks, but your teammates are not keeping possession of the ball, all that ends up happening is that the other team is coming right back towards goal every single time.

Even if you’re looking to kick the ball far you should be doing so with a purpose in mind. This sounds like something that should be common sense, but time and time again we see this in the youth games, the pro game and Sunday leagues. Goalkeepers are just worried about clearing the ball away and not necessarily making a pass that’s going to benefit their teammate. It’s not a bad idea as a coach to practice positioning their players for a goal kick as they should for other set pieces. To make sure that the team is spreading the field correctly and giving the goalkeeper the chance to make an accurate decision. Other times, the team is just standing around and even if you make a good pass that your teammates don’t take advantage of. 

There Is No Offside On A Goal Kick

This is a rule that not a lot of people know. The main reason why it doesn’t come into play is because players are not able to constantly put the ball over the head of the defenders and into an attacking position by one of their strikers. This is one of the reasons why it’s actually a good idea to put time and effort into making sure that you’re able to kick the ball far. As I mentioned before, I do believe that this is a skill that you can acquire and work at. Even when there are people that are going to have an easier path to maintaining this as part of their skill set.   

How Important Is It For A Goalkeeper To Be Able To Kick The Ball Far?  

Being able to make an 80 yard pass to an open teammate taking advantage of the fact that there are no offsides on goal kicks is something that every one who stands between the sticks would like to be able to do. For the most part though, I wouldn’t think that coaches are going to be overly concerned with searching for a goalkeeper that can do that. Unless of course, your coach is Pep Guardiola. The only manager that I know would rather have a goalkeeper that is “good on his feet” even if it seems that his hands are just there for show. I’m not saying this because of Ederson. Although, it’s clear to me Ederson’s biggest assets as a goalkeeper are his long goal kicks and drop kicks. I’m making the criticism because he has stuck by goalkeepers like Willy Caballero, Claudio Bravo, and Victor Valdes.    

I usually don’t like to say that there is a minimum requirement as a goalkeeper. Although, that would be interesting to think about. If you can dive well to the right and ok to the left you’re going to be fine. When it comes to goal kicks, I do think that there is a minimal requirement. About 55 to 60 yards. I would be way more concerned though about accuracy and consistency than how do goalkeepers kick it so far. As I mentioned being able to kick far is something that can come along with the proper training. Ball striking should be what you’re probably going to want to focus on before anything else.       

How Do Goalkeepers Kick So Far : Conclusion 

Kicking the ball far can be a skill that is innate to a lot of people. There are goalkeepers that are built with decent natural leg strength and minimal ball-striking training is going to allow them to put the ball on the moon. For some of us, the virtues that we bring to the table do not include having the natural ability to kick the ball far. The good thing though, is that this is a skill that can be developed. In my eyes, it takes work and patience. With a decent amount of time practicing you can really master this skill. At least be able to constantly reach those minimal requirements that I talked about. 

The real question for me would be, how much time you really should be spending on this skill. I would ask, is it important for goalkeepers to be able to kick the ball really far? As I mentioned, I would certainly prefer to have a goalkeeper that brings this possibility to the table. That doesn’t really mean that I would just outright cut any goalkeeper who can’t get the ball past 60 yards consistently. If you are having trouble with goal kicks, it’s important that you work on your ball striking. The leg strength can come along even through your regular training exercises. Ultimately how do goalkeepers kick so far? It depends on who you are! There are different ways to get there.