What Is The Soccer Goalkeeper – Parents’ Guide

Welcome to my first post on the position profile series that I am going to cover in soccer. In this post, I am going to discuss the position of goalkeeper, goalie as commonly known.

The soccer goalkeeper is the most unique player on the team due to the roles they play and the soccer rules that apply to them.

Often regarded as a player that does not do much on the field except catching the ball and kicking it back down the field.

However, goalkeepers are important players in the team as you will find out in the discussion below.

Unlike the other players, they are required additional skills in order to fulfill their roles.

They are smart, courageous, and strong, and when everything goes wrong the goalkeepers are the last line of defense.

In a lot of cases, the goalkeeper determines whether the team wins or loses.

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Special rules for goalkeepers only

The goalkeeper position is unique to other positions in soccer as clearly outlined by the FIFA rule book.

In kid’s soccer, these rules still apply but can be modified to fit their age and encourage more fun.

  • It is compulsory that every team must have a designated goalkeeper
  • The goalkeeper must wear a different colored kit from the rest of the team
  • The goalkeeper is allowed to use his or her hands to catch, block, and deflect the ball within the penalty area
  • If a goalkeeper has to leave the game due to injury or is sent off (red card) then their position must be filled by another player

Roles of the goalkeeper

The goalkeeper is the last line of defense for the team but they also have additional roles that make them even more unique and valuable.

  • The main role of the goalkeeper is to guard his or her team’s goal against the opponent from scoring. This is because if goals are conceded it is more likely his or her team will lose the match. As previously mentioned, the goalkeeper can use any part of his or her body to protect the goal, including the use of his or her hands. Goalkeepers are skillful in catching the ball as they sometimes dive to make saves and are powerful kickers.
  • They also have a strategic view of the game, therefore, they are important in directing players when setting up the defense to form a defensive wall to block direct or indirect free-kick and corner kicks
  • The goalie’s job is to defend against penalty kicks and penalty shoot-out
  • Participate in defense as an additional player also known as sweeper-keeper
  • It is common for a skillful goalkeeper can score goals as well
  • Traditionally the goalkeeper wears jersey number 1.

In the diagram below the goalkeeper is the brown circle.

What Is The Soccer Goalkeeper - Goalie diagram

8 Tips to be the best soccer goalkeeper

1. Focus

Experienced goalkeepers emphasized focus as one of the most important skills a goalkeeper must-have.

Focusing on training is crucial, especially for beginners who are learning the trade. Make sure every drill is done properly in order to learn fast.

During the game, a goalkeeper must concentrate, even when the ball is in the opponent’s territory.

Focusing on the game enables the goalkeeper to see the movement of the ball and mobilize his or her defenders to counter the opponent’s attack.

2. Confident And Brave

A goalkeeper must always remain confident throughout the game. This sends a signal to the opponent that he or she is brave and cannot be easily intimidated.

Even when conceding a goal the goalkeeper should not be discouraged by his or her mistakes so they must develop a mentality to shut out any negative thoughts and play on.

3. Ball Distribution

goalkeeper in action
Image by 7721622 from Pixabay

Knowing when to employ the best ball delivery method to your teammates is important if you want to achieve accurate delivery or a long delivery down into the opponent’s territory.

Goalkeepers have the following ball delivery methods:

  • Roll the ball to a teammate – This is very accurate when the goalie rolls the ball, as in bowling, to a teammate but only for short range.
  • Throw the ball to a teammate – Some called it a long throw, which is more accurate than kicking but only for medium-range, reaching the midfielder, striker, or wingers. The execution is similar to a baseball pitcher throwing the ball.
  • Punt, or drop-kicking to teammates – Not accurate but great for a counter-attack.
  • Goal kick – When a goal kick is awarded the above 3 methods are not permitted. The goalie must place the ball on the ground (in the penalty area) before it’s kicked. However, the accuracy is the same as the punt or drop-kick.

4. Commit Yourself

Goalkeeper observing the game

Once you decided to take an action you must be 100% mentally and physically committed to doing it otherwise you will be forced to make an error and concede a goal or injure yourself.

This is true for one-on-one challenges where the only defense is the goalie.

If you faced the striker who is running towards you with the ball you have to stick to how you are trained for such a situation.

The last thing expected is for the goalie to get panic and make simple mistakes such as ball handling errors.

5. Communicate

The goalkeeper plays an important role in defending the penalty area and should be the dominant figure commanding his or her players to position themselves according to his or her liking.

The goalie has a vantage view of the playing field so he or she can see where all the defenders and the opponents are.

If he or she spotted an unmarked opponent then he or she alerted the defense.

This is why you will see the goalie always shouting during the game.

6. One-on-one Situation

When the opponent overruns the defense or beats the off-side trap, the goalie will be the last line of defense. A good goalie will use his or her training:

  • Don’t wait, run to your opponent and spread yourself wide
  • Make sure your goal is behind you
  • Spread your hands with your palms open and facing the attacker
  • Do not dive too soon
  • Wait for the opponent to make the first move – the attacker will look at the ball before striking it.
  • Dive for the ball as soon as the attacker looks at the ball

7. Attempt To Save Every Shot

Goalie blocking shots

A goalkeeper should try his or her best to block all scoring attempts by the opponents.

Not all are easy but the effort of the goalkeeper will reduce the chances of conceding a goal.

It would be demoralizing for the team if you are not committed to stopping the ball and you may be frowned upon by the coach.

A lazy or incompetent goalie does not have a place on the team. Period.

8. Positioning

One rule of thumb for a goalkeeper is to stand facing the field of play and with the goal always behind.

A skillful goalkeeper is always in the right position at the right time to defend his or her goal and this requires agility, strength, and quick thinking.

Agility enables the goalie to dive and make saves and be quick to be back on his or her feet and be prepared for the next attack.

A strong goalie always gets to the position he or she wants to be even if that means forcing his way into a crowd of players.

A quick-thinking goalie changes his or her position to better defend the goal within seconds.

During a one-on-one challenge with an opponent striker, the goalie’s positioning is vital in blocking the shots.

Goalkeeper equipment

Similar to any other soccer player on the field the goalkeeper is required to wear the same equipment.

Due to the nature of their role, they also wear additional gear for protection against scrapes and knocks from other players

Training Drills

Please check out my post on Soccer Goalie Drills – Developing Your Kids Catching Skills. This is a drill for beginners who wanted to become goalkeepers.

My favorite goalies

In no particular order.

Fun fact

Did you know that Rogerio Ceni, a Brazillian goalkeeper, scored 131 goals?

This is the most goals any goalkeeper can score.

Apparently, Rogerio is also a penalty and free-kick specialist so he was always given the task of taking the free-kicks for his team, Sao Paolo FC.

He scored most of his goals from free-kicks!


There is no doubt that the goalkeeper is an important player on the soccer team.

They are very instrumental in mobilizing the defense and keeping the attackers from scoring goals.

A goalkeeper with additional skills can definitely make him or her the number 1 choice for any coach.

Related: 10 Best Goalkeeper Gloves For Kids

Do You Want Your Kid To Be A Goalkeeper? Let Me Know In The Comments Below.

Images: Image by LuckyLife11 from Pixabay | Image by 7721622 from Pixabay

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