How Better Footwork Can Improve A Goalkeeper

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A role of the goalkeeper is nowadays evolving more than ever before. Besides being in goal and preventing balls from crossing the goal line, goalkeepers are in today’s game expected to normally play as an eleventh outfield player. So that means, that their feet should serve them equally when stopping shots or when providing teammates with passes.



Before the shot is taken, goalkeepers need to properly prepare . So they should stand on both legs, just before the shot is fired at their goal. Then, if the shot is for example flying to the goalkeeper’s right side, they move their right leg to the right, a little bit in front of their bodies, towards the direction of the ball flight. With that small step, their right leg becomes available for goalkeepers to spring themselves or dive towards the ball. That step should be quick and very explosive.

Shots, with all the recent goalkeeper-unfriendly footballs, are nowadays flying towards goals with great pace, so these explosive steps can make goalkeepers’ life a lot easier. But be aware that, for example, when the ball is flying to the goalkeepers’ left-hand side, goalkeepers should use their left leg to push themselves towards the ball. The most common mistake is made, when goalkeepers use, in that case, their right leg. With using the wrong leg, they give themselves less chance of saving shots and moreover waste their energy by making a step which does not help them at all.




Often, one step isn’t nearly enough as they might be badly positioned and the ball is flying or curving too far away from them. Then, they have two options:

First, they need to make side shuffles. These steps are most often used by all goalkeepers. They are, to be fair, slower than cross steps, which we will explain later on, but goalkeepers can make more than just one side shuffle before diving towards the ball.

Second option are, as mentioned, cross steps. By using them, goalkeepers become faster, because their legs are not moving parallel, but one leg crosses the other. The leg, which is being crossed, is then pulled again into the normal body position and can again be crossed or can be used to help goalkeepers when diving towards the ball.

Moreover, side shuffles and cross steps can also be used when goalkeepers just move in front of the goal, trying to get into the right position before the shot is fired. The majority of movement is made with side shuffles, because by using them, goalkeepers are constantly standing on both legs and can react in many different directions at any time. But as mentioned above, these steps are slower than cross steps, so if the goalkeepers have to get from one side of the goal to another, they often use cross steps. Or they just simply run. But with that, the chances of getting beaten with the shot directed to the opposite side of the goalkeepers’ movement, increases. In addition, because of the speed, cross steps are more useful when collecting crosses.

Feet and legs are also used in saving shots. But this technique should only be used in one-on-one situations where there is far less time to react. In all other situations, hands must be prioritized. And of course, besides saving, goalkeepers have to have good footwork when they have the ball. Goalkeepers should nowadays be capable of playing with both legs equally good. This quality is even more important to have than in outfield players as goalkeepers cannot afford too much time on the ball when pressed as one tiny mistake can lead to a goal. They should be able to complete both short and long passes with both legs, be it with one or with two or more touches.


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