Soccer Goalkeeping Basics

An icon of a soccer goalkeeper making a save.Below are some basic soccer goalkeeping positions. They should be reinforced during goalie training and drills. We have seen different preferences about some of these by different coaches. In the end we advise you settle on the technique that is successful and feels comfortable for your goalie. Don’t make them do things in a way that feels awkward – it will cost goals.

Our Soccer Goalkeeping Practice Book has complete goalie practice plans and enough drills and activity equivalent to a season’s worth of high intensity games.



High Balls – Catching Above Head

The basic position of the hands resembles the letter “W”. If the hands are too small to keep thumbs together and secure the ball, then open up the thumbs to get fingers and palm to control it.


Medium High Balls – Catching Chest High

The basic position of the hands resembles an inverted “W”, with the little fingers touching. The thumbs and palms put pressure on the ball while the fingers bend to form a “basket”.



Medium High Balls – Catching Stomach High 

The basic position of the hands resembles the chest high catch, however the hands are a bit more underneath the ball to cradle it into the stomach.



Low Balls – Catching Between Knees And Ground

Same hand position as for medium high balls. You need to drop both (or at least one) knees to the ground as you catch the ball to get body securely behind ball.




Diving – Catching While Moving Horizontally

The concept of the “W” still applies. You do want to make sure that the hand closest to ground provides a “backstop” for the ball while the other puts pressure from the top.



Shots from a distance

This is your basic ready position. It allows you to generate momentum for a “big” dive by lowering knees and then pushing off one foot for the dive.




Shots From Close In

Here you are in a reaction or reflex situation. You do not have the time to drop down as much and generate momentum for a big dive. Your “ready position” is lower so you can push into dive instantly. That is why leg strength is important.





One Knee Down

We recommend a straight drop with the knees and heels as close together as possible. This ensures that there are no holes for the ball to slip through.




Two Knees Down

This is a more recent development, mostly seen for softer shots or shots from a distance. After the ball is secured, the goalkeeper often falls forward and buries it under the body.


Some coaches want one of the legs angled sideways. In the end it needs to be comfortable for the goalie, allow the goalie to get down quickly, avoid rebounds or balls going under/through goalie.



Upper Body  

Be sure to hold each position for 30 seconds. Also do regular soccer stretches. You may want to keep knees and elbows bent very slightly.




Be sure to feel the stretch. Do not push against the post, rather let the weight of the body provide all the force.





Keep your back straight and do not overstretch for the sake of getting the ball to your feet. Start shorter if needed and extend over time.



Browse through our Soccer Blog – Skills  section for more goalkeeping information, such as saving penalty kicks, more essential skills, seven speeds of soccer for goalkeepers……