2-3 Goal Difference Per Game: Role of the Goalie


The easiest way to save at least 2 or 3 goals a game is to have your goalie play out of the goal as far as possible. How far you ask? How about when the ball is in the other team’s offensive third, have the goalie at the edge of the center circle. That’s right, the edge of the center circle. At the youth level, many goals are scored on breakaways. By having the goalie play out, she will prevent these breakaways from materializing by getting to the ball first and thereby save countless goal-scoring opportunities. Follow these additional tips and tricks:

  • Consider putting one of your better field players in goal. A goalie who plays out will need good ball control. In addition, they will need to be able to read the game well so they know which balls to attack and when to retreat. If you allow your goalie to play this way, you should have plenty of volunteers.
  • I guarantee your goalie will be hesitant to come too far out. I have bet my goalie (in this case, it was my son) that if an opposing player scored on him when we he as was far from the goal he would get $100. He played in goal up through U13. Not once did he come close to getting the $100. However, he would only have received the money if he was least 25 or 30 yards out of the goal. It would not apply inside this distance because balls are kicked routinely over the goalie’s head in the youth games from closer range. Still this last fact should not dissuade you from playing your goalie out.
  • Assuming your goalie comfortable coming out to the edge of the center circle, make sure that she is not too slow to retreat. It is still the duty of the defenders to prevent the offensive players and ball from penetrating close to the goal. The goalie should always be the last defender. Your goalie should never find herself playing ahead of a field player.
  • By playing the goalie out, you will force your defenders to play further up as well. This, in turn, will result in more players playing closer to the opponent’s goal which will lead to more scoring opportunities.
  • I always liked rewarding my goalie by having them take all goal kicks and free kicks in the defensive half of the field. This made the goalie feel more involved. By taking the free kicks, the goalie played further out from goal.
  • Make sure your goalie never dribbles around an offensive player. If she does and loses the ball, a goal will most likely be scored. Her main role when playing outside the penalty box is to stop breakaways. If she receives a ball with little or no pressure, have her control it first and then make a nice pass. No dribbling!
  • When clearing a breakaway, make sure the she kicks the ball out toward the touch line. You would rather give up a throw-in than risk the clearance hitting off the offensive player and ricocheting toward your own goal.

Offensive Strategy

Playing against a good goalie that plays far out from goal puts an offensive team at a huge disadvantage. However, there are several ways to counteract this play:

  • Since the goalie will usually get to any through balls first, limit those types of passes. Instead have the offensive team dribble more or make shorter passes. By keeping the ball closer to the offensive players’ feet, the goalie will be forced to retreat.
  • Any long balls should be passed down the wings and not up the middle. Passing the ball down the wings will put the goalie in a quandary. If the goalie decides to go after this pass, she will end up much further from goal than a ball passed up in the middle. Make the goalie think twice about going after balls kicked to the wings.
  • Instead of your center forward playing near to the last defender, play him close to the goalie. Naturally the forward will be in an offside position if the ball is kicked to him, but see how the other team counters this strategy. You may get lucky and get the defenders to retreat which will force the goalie closer to her goal. At the expense of a few offside calls, try to get the other team to change their strategy.
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2 Responses to “2-3 Goal Difference Per Game: Role of the Goalie”

  1. Wolf Says:

    If you are giving away break aways I think that means your defenders have lost their shape and are not playing proper defense. Wouldn’t it be better to teach defenders how to play defense properly rather than turning your goalie into an extreme sweeper keeper?

  2. Alex Kos Says:

    Teaching defense is not simple, especially with the younger players who tend to get too focused on the ball. In an ideal world, you are absolute right. But even with a great defense, playing the goalkeeper out as far as possible has many advantages, especially when the goalkeeper understand the game.

    I’m a stopper-sweeper man myself. I don’t like the flat-4, especially when I see young teams using it. But even in a stopper-sweeper formation, my goalkeeper would stop numerous breakaways from ever developing.

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