How to Be a Soccer Goalie

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If you want to be a goalie, you need a wide variety of skills. Your job is not only to be a good, motivational teammate as well as the last line of defense in a game, but also to properly organize plays, and hinder plays that could become shots on goal. You also need to have mental and physical strength to play a 90-plus minute match. The difference between winning and losing a soccer match often lies with the goalie.



EditLearning the Rules

  1. Learn the general rules of soccer. Before you can develop yourself into a goalie, you should know the rules of soccer. These rules and regulations are discussed by and decided upon by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), which is a committee within the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).[1] FIFA governs every aspect of the game of internationally.[2]
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    • FIFA publishes the official book of rules and regulations for soccer. It is updated regularly and the current version has 140 pages.[3] You can find a copy of the rules and regulations of soccer at .
    • The IAFB has established and recognized 17 standard and universal laws of soccer. This is because the FIFA rules and regulations often differ between countries and organizations. In addition, the FIFA rule book might be too complex for beginning players to understand.[4]
    • The 17 laws cover the following topics: the field of play, the soccer, the number of players, the players’ equipment, the referee, the assistant referees, the duration of the match, the start and restart of play, the ball in and out of play, the method of scoring, offside, fouls and misconduct, free kicks, penalty kicks, the throw in, goal kicks, and corner kicks.[5] You can access the specifics of each of the seventeen standard laws at
    • You can read more about how to play soccer at How to Play Soccer.
  2. Learn the rules of being a goalie. Each player on a soccer field, from forwards to midfielders to the goalie, has a specific set of rules and regulations related to their position. Knowing these laws will help you be a better goalie and teammate.
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  3. Learn about goalkeeper equipment. Beyond the standard equipment any soccer player needs including cleats, shin guards, and a jersey, a goalkeeper must also follow the regulations on gear specific to his position on the field. From gloves to a special jersey, the equipment helps other players identify the goalie on the field.
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    • Goalies must wear a uniform, long socks, shin guards, and soccer cleats.[6]
    • FIFA regulations also require that a goalie’s equipment be distinctive from other players and the officials to identify his position on the field.[7] For example, most goalies will wear a team jersey that is a different color from the rest of the players.
    • Goalies also wear special gloves to help them grip the ball and protect their hands from shots on goal. You can find out more about goalie gloves at .
  4. Get the proper equipment to be a goalie. Before you start playing and training as a goalie, purchase the proper equipment. From gloves to cleats and shin guards, each piece of equipment will ensure that you are prepared to play your best and safest.
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    • You need the following equipment to play: goalie gloves, cleats, shin guards, socks, and a jersey.[8]
    • Goalie gloves, which are made of thick leather, cushion your hands when you catch or stop shots on goal. They also help you grip the ball better.
    • Cleats are special sneakers for soccer. They have hard stud on the bottom of the shoe that allows you to grip the turf on the field more effectively.
    • Shin guards protect your lower leg bones from being kicked by the hard cleats, which can be not only painful, but also injure you. You must wear socks that cover your shin guards completely, which also helps keep them in place.[9]
    • A goalie jersey may have padding in the shoulder and hip areas to protect you from the force of direct shots on goal. If you play for a team, it will often provide you with a proper goalie jersey for your team.
    • You can purchase all of the necessary soccer equipment at specialty sports stores or even at online retailer such as[10]
  5. Know where and how a goalie may play the soccer ball. It’s important for a goalkeeper to know where on the field he may play, from kicking the ball to throwing it with his hands. Knowing these rules will keep him from violating any of the rules of the game.
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    • A goalkeeper may leave the goal box to join outfield players for defensive purposes, which often happens when a team needs to attack its opponents using full force.
    • The goalie may grip the soccer ball when he within his own penalty area. In certain situations, such a when a teammate deliberately kicks him the ball, he cannot handle.[11]
    • If the goalie commits such violations, the referees will grant the opposing team with an indirect free kick, which may be close to the goal.[12]
    • A goalkeeper may not control the soccer ball for more than six seconds. If he violates the rule, the opposing team are granted an indirect free kick.[13]
    • The rules consider possession whenever the goalie is holding the ball with his hands, or if the ball somewhere between his body and the ground.[14]
    • Goalies may take penalty kicks and participate in penalty shootouts.[15]
    • Coaches may substitute a goalkeeper so long as play follows the regulations for player substitution.[16]
    • If an opposing player is making a penalty kick, the goalie must remain not only on his goal line but also in between the goalposts. He may make any movement as long as he does not move forward before the ball is kicked.[17]
    • A goalie may be given a red card for violating the rules of the game. In this case, any outfield player or a substitute goalie can take over for the ejected goalkeeper.[18]
  6. Learn rules specific to your country or organization. Because there are rules that govern soccer matches specific to certain countries and organizations, learn any differences there may be in your country or the organization for which you play. This will keep you from making mistakes that could cost your team the match.
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    • For example, some organizations may require you to wear goalkeeper gloves whereas FIFA allows individual goalies to choose if they want to wear gloves.

EditPlaying with a Team

  1. Pay close attention to the game. As a goalie, you are in the unique position among your teammates that you can see the entire field of play. By paying close to the game at all times, you not only help your team gain advantages, but also ensure that you’re prepared to defend the goal if the opposing team charges it.
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    • Always keep your eye on the ball, even if it’s at the other end of the field. You wouldn’t want to be surprised if it is kicked to your end of the field.
  2. Communicate with your teammates. Since a goalie can see the entire field of play in soccer, it is important for him to effectively communicate what he sees to his teammates. This will help them know which opponents to watch or any patterns of play. The goalie can also provide motivation for tired or lagging teammates.[19]
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    • Tell your teammates about certain opponents or patterns of play either during a time out or while they’re on the field. It’s important that they know these things because it not only helps them on the field, but also will help them do their job defending you and the goal area.
    • You can also develop and use hand gesture to cue your teammates about opponents or your own planned course of action.
    • Don’t shout at your teammates too often. Be specific, concise, and decisive in your suggestions, but deliver the message in a polite manner. Remember, that you’re not the coach.
  3. Be aggressive and anticipate players coming down the field. If an opposing player is charging down the field to take a shot on goal, your job as goalie is to anticipate what move he’s going to make and then aggressively defend the goal. How you react in these situations can the difference between a save and the other team scoring.
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    • Charge oncoming players to cut down the angle of their kicks and to make yourself bigger. Charging is also a useful tool to intimidate opposing players.
    • Moving your legs and standing on the tips of your toes will help you react more quickly to incoming plays. Those few split seconds often make a big difference in the outcome of a situation.
    • Make yourself larger inside the goal to intimidate charging players. You can do this by raising your hands above your head or holding them out to your side. This is also a psychological trick used to make a kicker unsure of where he is kicking the ball.
    • Reading the body language of players coming down the field. For example, if you notice a player planting his foot to kick, you can easily anticipate that the ball will follow the trajectory of the shot. Watching a player’s eyes can also give you cues about where he plans to kick the ball.
  4. Attack every ball that comes at you. Any ball traveling in the direction of the goalie can end up between the goal posts. It’s important to actively anticipate and attack any ball that comes towards you so that you don’t give the other team easy goals. Meaning, even if it is kicked higher than your height, jump!
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  5. Save shots on goal using your hands and feet. There are different ways to defend the goal area from catching the ball to kicking it or punching it out over the net. Choosing which defense strategy you use will depend on how the ball is approaching the goal area.
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    • Catch the ball when you can. This will give you the option to punt it towards your teammates, giving them a chance at a goal.
    • When you catch a ball to save it from going in the goal, you have two options of how to play it: you can either throw it back to your teammates with your hands or directly kick it to one of your teammates further down the field.
    • There are times when it is not practical to catch the ball, for example if it is kicked too high or too fast. In these cases, you can deflect the ball with the palm of your hand or the tips of your fingers, or you can punch it over the net.
    • Kick the ball without first catching it only in an emergency situation, such as an immediate threat to the goal area.
    • If a ball is low to the ground or approaching you at a flat angle, dive for it and then get up quickly.
    • Get up quickly if you dive, catch or kick a ball. You never know when you’ll need to make a second save.

EditTraining Your Body and Your Mind

  1. Train your cardiovascular system. Soccer is a fast moving sport that requires a lot of running over the course of a 90-plus minute game. Even though you’re guarding the goal and may not be running as much as a forward, you still must be physically fit and prepare to run quickly in and out of the goal box and even on the field.
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    • Running is one of the most important activities for a soccer player and a goalie. Aim to run at a decent pace for at least 90 minutes to ensure that your body is able to handle the rigors of the game.
    • You’ll also need to sprint in and out of the goal area to protect it from shots and potential shots on goal. It’s a good idea to train for this by running sprinting drills. For example, you could do 10 sprints of 100 meters so your body is prepared to accelerate quickly in and out of the goal.
  2. Do strength training. As a goalie, you need to be able to clear the ball from the goal area by both kicking and throwing it. In order to do this most effectively, you need to have strong legs and arms, which you can train with weight exercises.
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    • Doing cardio work like running will strengthen your legs, but doing leg-specific weight exercises will increase your strength. Consider exercises such as squats, lunges, and leg presses, all of which will train your entire leg.
    • Since being a goalie also requires you to use your arms and hands, doing exercises to increase your upper body strength is also important. Consider exercises such as shoulder presses, bicep curls, chest presses, and wrist curls. Using an implement such as the Gripmaster will strengthen your fingers and wrists.[20]
    • You can also consider strength and flexibility training exercises such as yoga. Top international teams such as Bayern München practice yoga not only to augment their strength training exercises, but also to increase flexibility and refine fine motor skills. In addition, yoga can train you to focus and relax more effectively.[21]
  3. Work on your fine and gross motor skills. Being a successful soccer player and goalie requires more than being able to kick or throw a ball. Remember, a goalie is no different that a field player except that he is allowed to use his hands inside the goal box. You’ll need to train your fine and gross motor skills to most effectively handle the ball with your hands and feet.
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    • To train fine and gross motor skills on your feet and legs, do drills that focus on activities such as dribbling a soccer ball going in different directions and punting it at different distances from your goal posts.[22] For punts to clear a ball from the goal, practice having your planted foot and body face in the direction you want the ball to travel.
    • You should also train for the two basic steps a goalie uses: the shuffle and the crossover. Galloping sideways will train you for shuffling, while turning your legs in opposite directions from your hips will train you for doing a crossover.[23]
    • As a goalie, you’ll also need to train your hands for greater dexterity with the balls. Throwing and catching drills with your coaches or teammates will help you develop handwork skills.[24]
  4. Speed up your reaction times. A goalie must be able to anticipate the opposing players’ move and react accordingly. Drills can help you speed up your reaction times, which may be the difference between effectively defending a shot on goal or failing to stop it before it enters the goal.[25]
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    • One good exercise to train your reaction times is to kick a soccer ball at a wall with different parts of your foot and then trying to stop it from getting past your body.
  5. Learn how to anticipate opposing players’ moves. One of the primary jobs of a goalie is to understand the mindset of opposing players and anticipate their moves. By learning how to read opposing players’ moves, you will be able to more effectively anticipate what move they are about to make, which will help you block shots on goal and determine the course of the game.[26]
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    • Playing soccer often will give you the practical experience to read the moves of other players. Often, there are patterns of play that you can detect from this.
    • Watching videos of other goalies and players can highlight additional tactics to help you more effectively anticipate the moves of both offensive and defensive players and then determine the proper course of play.[27]
    • One good drill to help you anticipate a player’s move is to practice mock shootouts and penalty kicks with a friend or your teammates. Even working with a couple of cones as a goal will help you practice this skill.
    • Practice your dive to save a ball on a bed or soft mattress.
  6. Understand how geometric principles can enhance your technique. Part of being a goalie is anticipating shots on goal, which can come at different speeds and angles. Having a basic understanding that geometric and mathematical principles dictate where a ball will land can help you to more effectively anticipate plays.[28]
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    • Always try to close angles so that an opposing player does not have many options from where they can shoot. For example, if the player is charging from the right, don’t stand in the middle of the goal. Instead, face the ball with your body and stand close to the right post.[29]
    • A good rule of thumb for positioning yourself properly to angles is to pretend that there is a string extending from the ball to the very center of the goal. You want to position yourself on that string.
    • If a ball is kicked flat to the ground directly towards you, don’t just reach your hands downward. Rather, hold your entire body low to the ground, which will allow you to dive forward if necessary.
    • If an opposing player is making a penalty shot, you also need to block the angle. Looking for cues in a player’s eyes or at his feet could help you figure out which angle to block.
  7. Strengthen your mental stamina. Playing on a soccer team, including as a goalie, requires that you have mental strength to get through the ups and downs of games. By working on your mental stamina, you can successfully navigate any obstacles that might be present not only at a game, but also within your team.[30]
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    • It’s important to know that everything will never go perfectly in a game, or even in a practice. You need to be emotionally flexible and resilient in order to quickly rebound from setbacks so that they do not become a hindrance for your team.[31]
    • Having confidence in your skills will also help boost your mental stamina. This can come from knowing that you’ve trained hard or that you have a very strong and supportive team.
    • Cognitive exercises like pep talks and seeing the positive in any situation also strengthen your mind and prepare you for games. Visualization, which is where you envision a play without actually going through it, is another effective exercise.[32]
    • Talking to a sports therapist or psychologist can help you identify and in turn strengthen your game. For example, you may always feel guilty when your team loses. But soccer is a team sport and realizing that perhaps the fault isn’t always yours, and maybe with the defensive players, will help you be a stronger player.


  • Remember that no player starts out perfectly. If you want to be a great goalie, it will require a lot of practice, patience and confidence. Keep trying and don’t give up!
  • Don’t let others blame you for defeats. Remember, even if you have made mistakes, the ball has got past 10 other players before you.
  • Listen to your team and communicate with them. Soccer is a collaborative sport, so you need to interact with your team to plan how to stop the offense.
  • Don’t be afraid to throw yourself, I would recommend you buy knee pads.
  • Diving is key. Learn how to predict the opponents move and just keep your eyes on the ball and follow its movement.


  • Even the most successful goalies make serious mistakes. When this happens, learn from your mistake and move on, but don’t let it get you too down.
  • When you’re playing, take care of your head. Many goalkeepers are injured in one-on-one collisions or by heading balls.

EditThings You’ll Need

  • Gloves
  • Shin guards
  • Socks that cover your shin guards
  • Jersey
  • Cleats
  • Male keepers should wear an athletic cup.

EditRelated wikiHows

  • Choose a Pair of Goalie/Keeper Gloves
  • Read a Soccer Penalty Shot if You’re a Goalie
  • Dive in Soccer
  • Do a Throw in Soccer
  • Play Defense in Soccer
  • Bend a Soccer Ball
  • Understand Soccer Strategy
  • Feel Confident and Not Afraid of Passing a Defender in Soccer
  • Break in Goalie Gloves

EditSources and Citations

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