2-3 Goal Difference Per Game: Goal Kicks


Unless the defending team has a goalie or defender with a strong leg, an offensive team will have several opportunities a game to intercept a goal kick at the top of the penalty area with only the goalie and possibly one defender to beat. In these situations, the offensive team stands a very good chance of scoring a goal.

In this case, the offensive team should:

  • Camp a few forwards just outside the penalty box
  • If the player can kick the ball further, the forwards should be positioned 5 yards nearer the goal than where the ball lands. Line up the midfielders 5 to 10 yards behind the forwards. Spread the players out to cover a large area of the field.
  • Since younger players tend to telegraph where they plan to kick the ball, simply have the forwards follow the eyes of the player taking the goal kick.

The rules state that a ball is not in play until it has completely left the penalty area. Therefore, there is no reason for an offensive player to stand inside the penalty area. When the ball is touched by any player inside the penalty area, the goal kick will be re-taken. Some league or tournaments allow goal kicks to be taken from the top of the penalty area. The same strategy should be applied to these kicks as well but when they are intercepted, the offensive player is further from the goal. This is a nice way to counteract teams that employ this strategy, especially against weaker opponents or team that don’t have strong kickers.

Defensive Strategy

Conversely, if you are the defending team that is not blessed with a strong leg in the back and your goal kicks are constantly getting picked off and creating easy scoring opportunities, employ one of these tricks:

  • Have your strongest-legged player, even if it is a forward, taking all goal kicks, especially when kicking against the wind.
  • Don’t be afraid to have your goalie take the goal kicks. If their leg is not that strong, make sure to place 1 defender in goal and possibly another defender around the penalty area. Because this player is in the penalty area, they can’t have the ball passed to them. However, they will be in a position to defend immediately.
  • Take the goal kicks quickly before the offensive team has time to set up.
  • Have the kicker avoid telegraphing the kick. Have them look one way but kick the other
  • Kick to ball out the side of the penalty area. If the ball is picked off on the side, the chances of scoring are considerably less than when a ball is picked off at the top of the box. Also if the ball goes out-of-bounds for a throw-in, a throw-in is better than giving the ball up in front of the goal.
  • Toe-poke the ball. Though it is not pretty and the ball may not always go where they want it to, some younger kids get more distance on their kicks using their toe.
  • Ask the referee before the game if they will allow goal kicks to be taken from the top of the penalty spot.
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2 Responses to “2-3 Goal Difference Per Game: Goal Kicks”

  1. Wolf Says:

    Can’t say I agree with promoting toe pokes. From my years of coaching young players, the toe poke is one of the worst habits I have seen players develop and one of the hardest to break them of. In fact it has been a major obstacle to getting players to transition to the “inside of the foot” which you spent so much energy promoting in more recent posts

    • Alex Kos Says:

      I had a difficult time putting the toe-poke bullet-point in. That is why it is one of the last bullet points. I completely agree with you. But I’ve seen a few games were the ball could not be cleared out of the penalty box on a goal kick no matter how hard the players tried. It was only when a player toed the ball that play was able to resume.

      You’ll never see me teaching this type of kick.

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