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Handling 1v1 Situations: Tips and Tricks for Goalies

Some goalkeepers hate 1v1s. Others love the thrill of being the last line of defence, the only thing between an opposing striker and the back of the net. However you feel about 1v1s, you’ll have to face up to them if you hope to become a successful keeper.

This guide is here to help, looking at some tips and tricks to navigate 1v1s and improve your save rate.

Preventing 1v1s

Before we look at how to handle 1v1s, it’s worth highlighting a few quick pointers for preventing them in the first place. Ultimately, a 1v1 will only happen if an opposing player gets past all of your defenders. One way to prevent them is to command your defence correctly. Read the game, look for signs of pressure or opposing forwards waiting to break through the line, and spot the danger in advance.

Keep communicating with your defenders. Let them know about any players they might not have noticed closing them down or making runs beyond them. Call them to drop deep when you sense you might be put under pressure soon. If you can position your defenders in the right places, you should face far fewer 1v1 situations.

Another good tip is to not sit too deep in your area all the time. If the ball is down the other end of the pitch, there’s usually no harm in standing on the edge of your box. You might even venture a little further out. That way, if the opposing side takes control and tries a long ball over your defence, you’ll be ready to intercept and clear it away.

How to Handle 1v1s

Unfortunately, even with preventative measures and cautious play, you’re bound to face the odd 1v1 situation. Here are some tips on how to handle them.

Stay on Your Feet as Long as Possible

This is arguably the golden rule of dealing with 1v1s as a goalkeeper. You have to stay on your feet for as long as you can. Once you go to ground, you lose control. Of course, there are times when going to ground is the right move. It can help you spread yourself to block a shot or even get a tackle in against a hesitant forward.

However, if you commit to going down at the wrong moment, the opposing player could easily get around you or find an angle to shoot. The longer you stay upright, the more pressure you’ll be able to put on your opponent. They won’t know which way you’re going to go, and you’re effectively asking them to make the first move. This makes their job of trying to score that much harder.

Try to Narrow Down the Angle

There are times, as a goalkeeper, where you should stay back and sit on your line. But 1v1s aren’t usually those times. More often than not, in a 1v1 situation, you’re going to want to come out, at least a little, and close down the striker. This has two big benefits. First, the sight of an onrushing keeper often puts strikers under pressure, affecting their mental game and making them liable to make a mistake.

Second, it closes down the shooting angle. If you’re right on the goal line, there’s a lot of empty space either side of you for strikers to aim at. But if you come out and close that angle, the space becomes much smaller. As a result, the striker will have to be even more precise with their shot if they hope to score.

Read the Situation to Identify the Best Approach

Every 1v1 is different. Sometimes, the onrushing player might be far ahead of your defenders. That’s a true 1v1, where you have to accept that you’re probably not going to get any help from your teammates. In other cases, you might have a teammate not too far away, rushing back to assist you. There are also situations where you get unlucky and face a 1v2, with two attackers sprinting at you.

It’s important to read the situation to calculate your next best move. In a pure 1v1, you’re most often going to have to come out, close the attacker down, and go for either a dive or tackle to stop them. In a 1v2, you have to be more cautious, trying to track the run of the second player. In situations where a defender might come to your aid, it’s all about buying time and pressuring the attacker for long enough.

Be Bold

When someone is running right at you at full speed, with no signs of stopping, your instincts might tell you to back away. However, in 1v1 situations, you have to be brave. You have to be bold, decisive, to ignore that part of you that is afraid of making a mistake. Of course, you still have to be cautious to avoid unnecessary injury, but these moments certainly aren’t the times to back down.

Remember, you’re not going to win every 1v1. There are going to be times when you make the wrong call, or situations when the opposing striker is just too good. But by being bold and trying your best, you’ll at least give your side a fighting chance of avoiding a goal. Plus, the more 1v1s you encounter, the more experience you’ll gain, and the better you’ll get.

Make Yourself Big

Last but not least, every goalkeeper should know the importance of making yourself as big as possible in a 1v1. There are lots of different shapes you can make with your body, by moving your legs and spreading your arms wide. Every keeper has their favourite or go-to shape. Whatever yours happens to be, use it to the best possible effect.

The bigger you can be, the more space you’ll cover and the more chance you’ll have of stopping a shot. It’s much harder for a striker to bend the ball around a goalkeeper making a big star shape than one standing with arms by their sides.

Keep These Tips in Mind to Win More 1v1s

Rather than seeing 1v1s as daunting, intimidating experiences, see them as your time to shine. Those are the moments when you can put many of your keeping skills to the test and potentially win matches for your side. It’s just you and the striker, and only one can emerge victorious. Keep these tips and tricks in mind to make sure you come out on top more often than not.

The Risks and Rewards of Different Distribution Styles

Distribution is a massive part of modern goalkeeping. Gone are the days when goalies simply booted the ball away at every given opportunity. Now, many keepers have a range of distribution methods in their arsenal. The roll. The throw. The short pass. The long ball. The drop kick. Each one has its risks, rewards, and best-use cases, which we’ll explore below.

Rolling the Ball

First, the simple roll. This is when you’ve gathered the ball up from the ground or caught it from a shot or cross. You can then roll it out to the feet of your teammates.


There’s not too much risk to rolling the ball out. It’s a simple distribution technique. However, you still need to be careful, especially on wet surfaces. Rolling a ball on muddy ground can be unpredictable. It might get stuck, roll slowly, or not go quite as far as you expect. All of which might present an opportunity for the opposition.

Another downside with rolling is that it keeps the ball close to your goal. If the opposition team has a good press, they can put your defenders under almost immediate pressure.


There are two big rewards to rolling the ball. First, it gets the ball back into play as quickly as possible and enables your team to get on with the game. This makes it a good choice for situations when you’re chasing a goal, or when your team wants to maintain pressure.

The second benefit is that it’s an almost guaranteed way to keep possession. It’s rare to see a roll get intercepted.

Throwing the Ball

If you’ve got a good arm, you may be able to throw the ball quite a distance to a teammate. Top keepers like Manuel Neuer, for example, regularly throw the ball to the halfway line.


The level of risk when throwing the ball all depends on your skill. If you’re a strong and accurate thrower, there’s not too much risk. But if your throws sometimes go wayward, you may give the ball straight to the opposition.

Once again, you also have to keep an eye on the weather conditions before launching a big throw. On a rainy day, the ball might be quite slick and slip from your grasp at the wrong moment. Additionally, if the wind is strong, that could affect the ball’s flight.


As with rolling, throwing the ball is a good way to get it straight back into play. You can catch the ball from a corner, for instance, and then launch it to a teammate further down the field. This might take the opposition by surprise and help launch a counter-attack.

Throwing is also beneficial for keepers who aren’t quite as comfortable with their feet. You don’t have to put the ball down and deal with any onrushing opposition players trying to take it away from you.

Short Passes on the Ground

This is one of the most popular distribution methods in the modern game. With more keepers confident with the ball at their feet nowadays, it’s common to see them playing quick, short passes to their defence.


Risk-wise, the main issue with a short pass to a defender is that, just like with the roll, it keeps the ball close to your goal. Often, a keeper’s instinct is to clear the ball as far up field as possible and minimise the risk of a goal. But by playing the short ball, you have to be ready for a potential turnover and opposition attack almost right away.

For that reason, it’s crucial for goalies to read the game well and check the positions of players on both sides to make the right call. Don’t just blindly pass to the same full back over and over, or the opposition might quickly figure you out.


The big reward here is that it maintains possession for your side. You get to build out from the back, which is what a lot of teams like to do in modern football, and hopefully create an attack. Plus, unless the opposing team has a high line and heavy press, there’s not too much risk of them intercepting the ball.

Long Balls

The long ball was once the go-to distribution method for pretty much every keeper. At every goal kick, you’d see them boot the ball as hard and far as they could, all the way into the opposition half. While this isn’t done quite as often nowadays, there’s still a place for long balls in modern football.


The risk of the long ball is that it’s almost 50/50 in terms of which team actually ends up in possession. Of course, some keepers are efficient and accurate with their long passes and can often pick out a teammate quite well. But even the best goalies will sometimes boot the ball to the other team.

Keepers often breathe a sigh of relief after clearing the ball far away. But if you lack accuracy and focus purely on power, that relief may only be short-lived. You could find yourself facing another attack only seconds later. This is why it pays to pick your passes with care and try to target a teammate with every long ball.


Obviously, the big reward here is that it clears the ball away from you. Far away. Usually right into the opposition half. Even if the opposition gets possession, they still have to build up and pass through your midfield and defence to get to you.

The long ball is a good choice towards the end of a game or a half, when you want to minimise the opposing team’s opportunities to score. This method is also helpful in those situations when your team may be running out of time to equalise. It gives you a chance to get the ball up to your striker without the need for time-consuming build-up play.

Drop Kicks

The drop kick is when the keeper picks up the ball and then drops it in the air and boots it away.


The risk with the drop kick is similar to the long ball. It usually leads to the ball being launched so hard and far away, that you can’t fully control where it lands. It may, therefore, end up with the opposition, losing possession for your side.


Plenty of keepers love drop kicks. They say they’re easier to pull off compared to long balls off the ground. They’re effective for giving your teammates more time to position themselves and win the aerial duel to keep possession.

Drop kicks also provide you with the element of surprise. With the ball in your hands, the opposition won’t always know what you’ve got in mind. They might expect a roll or throw. Then, you can catch them out with a sudden drop kick right to one of your forwards.

Common Goalkeeping Myths Busted

It’s easy for myths and misinformation to spread in the sporting world. Especially these days, when there’s so much media scrutiny. Unfortunately, football falsehoods and completely untrue ideas are widely accepted as fact in the modern game. This is particularly true regarding goalkeepers, who are often judged, criticised, or viewed according to inaccurate or outdated standards.

Let’s bust a few of those myths today.

Goalkeepers Have to Be Tall

It’s easy to see how this myth came about. Naturally, being taller and broader is an advantage when you play in goal. It makes it easier to leap high in the air and make those game-saving dives across the goal. But height is not the be-all and end-all. You can succeed if you’re under six foot, and a whole lot of legends have proven that over the years.

Jorge Campos, 5’7”. René Higuita, 5’9”. They were both incredibly successful, pioneering talents. They didn’t only excel in their own careers, but influenced the next generation of goalies. Then, there are all the amazing keepers around the six foot mark. Like Iker Casillas, a crucial member of the iconic 2008-2012 Spain side, and World Cup and six-time Serie A winner Dino Zoff.

Goalies Don’t Need to Be Fit

Again, it’s not hard to see how this myth spread. People tend to think that, since goalies don’t run around as much as outfield players, they don’t need to be fit. This stereotype has been reinforced in the past by a few famous keepers who were clearly “stockier” than their colleagues. However, in the modern game, it’s an absolute fallacy to suggest that fitness doesn’t matter for goalies.

Keepers have to leap and dive. To sprint and burst into action at a moment’s notice. To stay strong and steady while being jostled in the box. They’re often called on to run out of their area and chase down loose balls ahead of onrushing strikers. They also have to be ready to act for the full 90 minutes, almost never being subbed. In short, they definitely need to be fit and athletic, just like their teammates.

Goalkeeping Is Boring

This one will certainly sound strange to those who love playing in goal. However, there are some people out there who feel that keeping net is dull. They argue that goalies aren’t as involved in the action as other players. That they spend large amounts of time simply spectating on the action while everyone else is involved at the other end.

Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. But almost every keeper will agree that the goalie’s role is far from dull. It can be a thrilling experience. There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of a 1v1 situation. Or the triumph of a big save in a penalty shoot-out. Plus, even when it seems like goalies aren’t “involved” in the game, they’re still usually 100% concentrated, reading the play and anticipating their next moves.

Goalies Should Always Come Off Their Line and Close the Angle

Here’s a myth that has become particularly popular in recent years, partly thanks to football commentators and pundits. When a goalie concedes, you often hear remarks like “The goalie needed to come off his line there,” or “The keeper has to close down the angle better than that.” In reality, this is a shallow assessment of the goalkeeping art and, while sometimes partly true, rarely tells the whole story.

Every goalkeeping situation is different. Yes, there are times to come off your line and close down the angle on a striker to make it harder for them to score. But that’s not always the case. There are also situations where it pays to stay back, so you have more time to react and stop a shot. It’s all about using your instincts and experience to make the right call, rather than blindly rushing out every single time.

Goalkeepers Should Never Be Beat at the Near Post

Here’s another one you might have heard a lot in TV commentary. If a goalie lets in a shot at their near post, it’s common to hear pundits say that they “shouldn’t be getting beat” there. The truth is that goalies don’t want to be beat absolutely anywhere. That includes near post, far post, and in the centre. There isn’t one part of the goal that should be seen as less or more defendable than the rest.

This myth is dangerous, as it may encourage younger keepers to focus on guarding the near post. That could open them up to far post shots and make them concede more than they should. Instead, keepers should be encouraged to adapt their positioning to guard the entire goal as well as they can, all of the time. Plus, there are sometimes situations when near post shots are very good and just as hard to save than far post ones.

Don’t Let Myths Influence Your Game

These are just some of the many myths and misconceptions associated with goalkeeping. As this guide has shown, myths aren’t just annoying. They can be harmful, discouraging players from taking on a goalkeeping role or negatively impacting the way they perform. Try not to pay too much attention to them. Focus on your game, believe in yourself, and don’t let myths dictate your playing career.

The Hardest Parts of Being a Goalie

When everything is going well, there’s a lot to love about being a goalkeeper. You make big saves. You win games for your side. You control your defence and feel confident and assured. Unfortunately, it’s not always smooth sailing. There are times where playing between the sticks can feel like the hardest job on the pitch. Times when you wish you could swap positions with any of your outfield teammates.

Read on to learn about some of the toughest aspects of playing in goal.

The Feeling of Making a Mistake

Let’s start with one of the worst parts of being a goalie: mistakes. Every goalie makes them. Even the very best keepers, on the biggest stages of all. They fumble crosses. They mistime runs out of their box. They get their dives all wrong when trying to stop a shot. It happens. But that doesn’t make you feel any better when it happens to you.

Undoubtedly, that feeling of making a big mistake and letting in a goal you should have stopped is one of the most unpleasant sensations in sport. Many goalkeepers speak about wanting the earth to swallow them up in those moments. Many replay mistakes over and over in their minds, or dwell on them for the rest of the game.

The Counterargument

Sure, making mistakes isn’t any fun. But, as stated, it happens to everyone. It’s part and parcel of the game, and players in other positions make mistakes, too. You just have to accept that. No keeper can be perfect or flawless. All you can do is your best, and it’s a great test of character if you can make a mistake and bounce back from it. So, don’t dwell on your errors. Use them as motivation to do better in the future.

An Unforgiving Role

Goalkeeping can often feel like a thankless task. You don’t get second chances in the same way a striker would. For example, strikers might miss multiple good chances throughout the game. But if they finally manage to score in the last minute, all is forgiven. They look like the hero, and most people immediately forget about the opportunities they squandered.

For goalies, it’s a totally different story. Your mistakes are magnified. If you let in a goal, that’s a game-changer. A pivotal moment, and not something you can simply “put right” by making a big save a couple of minutes later. Even if you perform fantastically for 89 minutes, people will still dwell on that one minute where you conceded.

The Counterargument

Granted, goalie mistakes come under much more scrutiny than the rest. But that just goes to highlight the importance of the goalie’s role. Goalies are arguably the most crucial members of the team, and it can be both fulfilling and exciting to have that much responsibility. It’s up to you to own that responsibility and do your best every single game.

Always Being Blamed

Goalkeepers are the last line of defence for their team. Their entire role revolves around keeping the ball out of the net. So, when goals are scored from time to time, they’re usually the ones who get blamed. Sometimes, that criticism might be justified. Other times, it can feel terribly unfair for a keeper to take all the responsibility after a goal.

For example, one of your defenders might have made a mistake that let a striker clean through on goal. You did your best in the 1v1, but still conceded. Then, you get blamed for not making yourself big enough or being strong enough to stop the shot. In reality, you know that the opportunity would never have even happened in the first place if your defender had made the right call.

The Counterargument

Unfortunately, this is just another part of the role of the keeper. You’ll often have to take the blame when things go wrong, even if it’s not entirely your fault. At the same time, you can also take the glory in the positive moments. Like when you make a big save, keep a clean sheet, or stop a penalty. It’s a role of highs and lows, and you just have to make the most of the highs when they come around.

Difficult Training and Warm-Up Routines

Training isn’t always easy for goalies, either. This is especially true at grassroots level, where teams don’t always have the relevant expertise or equipment to help goalies get better. A lot of amateur goalies have to make do with basic drills. They might have to just save shots over and over, not getting much opportunity to work on other aspects of their game.

Pre-match warm-up routines can also be a challenge. Often, goalies will have to stand in net while being peppered with shots from their teammates. As such, you spend more time picking the ball out of the net than actually handling it and getting into the zone. All of this can make it harder to develop as a young, aspiring keeper, making the path to success tougher than expected.

The Counterargument

While goalie training can be difficult at times, it’s not always that way. If you surround yourself with the right coaches, mentors, and managers, training becomes much more satisfying and rewarding. Good teams also use better warm-up routines to help goalies get ready for the game. Plus, even if your training regime isn’t the best, at least you don’t have to run around as intensely as outfield players.

Overcoming Goalkeeper Challenges

Clearly, there are challenges that come with being a goalkeeper. Overcoming those challenges may not always seem easy, but it’s essential if you truly want to succeed in this position. Rather than see them as problems, use them to improve. Learn from mistakes. Be humble in the tough times. Accept both the blame and the glory, and find your own way to be the best keeper you can be.

The Best Parts of Being a Goalie

“Why would you want to be a goalkeeper?” If you’ve ever been asked that question, you’re not alone. After all, goalies have to deal with huge amounts of pressure and rarely get the plaudits and acclaim of their outfield teammates. In many ways, their role is a thankless one. Their errors are magnified and the blame for defeats is often laid squarely at their feet.

Considering all of that, goalkeeper doesn’t sound like the most desirable position in a football team. Yet, countless young, aspiring footballers decide that this is role for them. One of the main reasons is that, despite the tricky parts of the job, being a goalie also comes with plenty of perks and positives. Here’s a look at a few of the best bits of being a goalkeeper.

Guaranteed Game Time

Let’s start with on obvious one: goalies very rarely get subbed off during matches. Usually, you’ll only get replaced if you pick up an injury, meaning that you should get plenty of guaranteed game time. That’s a big difference when compared to pretty much every other position on the pitch, where players are always at risk of being substituted.

Of course, if you’re in a team that has one or two other good goalies, you’ll have to compete against them for the No. 1 spot. But if you can pull that off, you’ll get to spend lots of time on the pitch. That means more time to enjoy the thrills and spills of the game. More time to practice, to improve your skills, to feel the buzz of the game around you, and to have fun.

The Thrill of 1v1 Situations

Goalkeeping can also be an exciting role to play, especially in those 1v1 moments. When a striker has broken through the defensive line, it’s just you and them, goalie against striker, and only one can come out on top. The entire game can turn on the result of that encounter, and there’s something so thrilling about that.

Sure, a 1v1 situation can be intimidating, too, and they’re certainly no fun when you end up on the losing side. However, a lot of goalkeepers live for those moments, and the more 1v1s you have, the better you get at them. Plus, there are few better feelings in sport than successfully pulling off a last-minute 1v1 save to secure a win for your side.

Commanding Your Troops

Another brilliant thing about being a goalie is that you’re basically the boss of the defence. You get to shout at your defenders, moving them about like chess pieces. It’s almost like being a military leader, commanding your troops and fine-tuning your strategy as you prepare to defend the net against every threat.

This obviously appeals to people who like to be in charge, as well as those who think tactically. You almost get to play a watered down management role as a goalkeeper, especially during set pieces. Before corners and free kicks, you need to tell players where to position themselves, who to mark, and so on. It’s the perfect role for natural born leaders.

Not Quite as Draining as Outfield Play

Goalies need to be fit. There’s no doubt about that. Especially these days, with modern goalkeepers being expected to take a more active role in many elements of the game. They can’t simply stand around and spectate anymore. However, it’s a proven fact that goalies don’t tend to do half as much running and sprinting as their outfield teammates.

For that reason, playing in goal isn’t quite as physically demanding as other positions. There will be times when you have to sprint, leap, dive, and more. But for other parts of the game, you’ll have time to catch your breath. This makes goalkeeping a suitable role to consider for younger players who find it tough to keep up with the pace of outfield play.

Huge Influence on Results

Football is a team game. Many great managers say that individual players don’t win or lose matches. Instead, the team wins or loses as a collective. However, it’s also fair to say that certain players tend to have more of an influence on the final score than others. Goalkeepers are arguably the most influential – and therefore important – players on the pitch.

As a goalie, you can make the saves that win your team a game. Or, if your strikers aren’t performing well that day, your actions could be enough to secure a draw, rather than a loss. Having so much influence over the result can be daunting, but it’s also inspiring.

A Truly Unique Position

Goalkeepers wear a different kit to everyone else. They’re the only players allowed to pick up and handle the ball without being punished. They have their own designated part of the pitch and specific rules that apply only to them. While other players practise passing, shooting, and dribbling skills during training, goalies work to improve diving, jumping, and reactions.

In other words, the goalkeeping role is 100% unique when compared to every other position. That makes it special, and it gives it a certain level of appeal in the eyes of many young players. Those who want to be different, to stand out, to play the game in their own way, they’re all drawn to the goalkeeping position.

Lots to Love About Being a Goalie

There’s a lot to love about being a goalkeeper, and so many reasons to play this position. It’s fun, thrilling, and unique. You’re sure to get plenty of time on the ground, in the best position to watch the action unfold. You have a major impact on how games pan out, and you get to influence tactics and strategy. It’s no wonder so many youngsters are drawn to that all-important space in front of the goal posts.

Andre Onana – The Goalkeeper Gloves That He Chose

Andre Onana is starting to come into his own, after a shaky start to life in Manchester.

We are slowly starting to see the performances that earnt him his plaudits, and got him to the Champions League final last year.

Onana currently has the second most clean sheets in the Premier League and is looking more assured between the sticks every week.

But what gloves does the Cameroonian trust at the highest level?

Answer – Rinat’s NKAM PRO

This model is made entirely to Andre Onana’s liking, who chose the construction, cut, and type of latex.

After several weeks of joint work between the goalkeeper and the brand, this was the glove that was decided…


The construction of this glove is lightweight, with just the right amount of protection.

Andre Onana - His Rinat Goalkeeper Gloves

Breathex material is used in the body of the glove which provides a perfect fit, high levels of comfort, and of course, great breathability.

Rubber inserts are utilised in the main impact areas of the glove, to give that extra protection in the areas where it is needed most.


The formidable Roll Finger is the cut of choice here, in a version that was developed especially for Andre!

The latex of the palm almost completely wraps all the fingers, giving a larger surface area for gripping the ball.

This style only adds to its highly comfortable nature!


Rinat’s German AXG Formula latex takes this glove to that elite level.

Top grip, good resistance, and excellent performance. This latex is designed to thrive in even the most adverse conditions!


Onana went for a more modern approach in this part of the glove, with a strapless closure.

High comfort is a reoccurring theme on this model, and the closure is not an exception.

An elastic cuff offers practicality and a secure fit, so that there are no distractions when the shots are coming your way.

The NKAM PRO is currently available in three different colourways, including the Blue/Navy style which is worn by the man himself!

Shop all the latest goalkeeper gloves from all the major brands, at Just Keepers. We offer the best range of goalkeeper gloves, goalkeeper clothing and goalkeeper essentials anywhere in the world.

All of our products are hand picked to offer you all the products you need all in one place. Remember, we are the original online goalkeeper specialists…

Just Keepers – The Number Ones Number One

The Evolution of Modern Goalkeepers

Football is in a constant state of evolution. New styles of play. New formations. New tactics, ideas, innovations. Even new roles and positions are sometimes introduced, like full-backs who double-up as wingers or centre-backs or roam into defensive midfield.

It’s that evolution that makes the game so exciting from a tactical point of view. Fans are always waiting to see what comes next, what surprising ideas coaches might devise. For players, too, it can be intriguing to learn new ways of playing the game – and not just outfield players.

Goalkeepers have also seen their roles change an awful lot in recent times. This guide will take look at some of those changes and explore how they might affect the development of aspiring young keepers.

The Changing Face of Goalkeeping

If you have the time, go back and watch some clips of Premier League goalies from 20 or 30 years ago. Then watch some modern-day Premier League football, with keepers like Ederson, Alisson, Emi Martinez, and Nick Pope. The differences are striking, and it’s incredible to see just how much more involved in the game modern goalies tend to be.

Back in the nineties, keepers almost never left their area. They’d stick rigidly to the penalty box, relying on defenders to marshal forwards and cut out loose balls. These days, it’s not uncommon to see keepers several yards out of their area. They regularly rush out to close down opposing players. They kick-start attacking moves. They even get the odd assist.

In short, the role of the keeper has expanded enormously. In the past, playing between the sticks was purely about stopping shots and guarding the net. Apart from that, and booting the ball as far up the field as they could, goalies weren’t relied on for much else. Now, they’re expected to dictate the build-up play, read the game, sweep up, break defensive lines with their passes, and so much more.


The concept of the sweeper-keeper isn’t exactly a recent innovation. There are examples of sweeper-keepers going back as far as the 1950s. However, it took several decades for the concept to truly catch on. Nowadays, many of the best keepers in the game are more than comfortable at playing the sweeper role. Lots of top teams also rely on sweeper keepers to snuff out danger.

Sweeper-keepers have to be great readers of the game. They need to concentrate for the full 90 minutes, always ready to respond to dangerous situations. Their role is almost a hybrid of a keeper and a defender. When balls dissect the defensive line, the sweeper-keeper has to be ready to run out, claim the ball, and get play going again.

They also have to be capable of spotting dangerous situations and knowing when to come out of their box and when to sit back. For example, if an opposing forward seems ready to beat the offside trap and make a run on goal, a sweeper-keeper will need to anticipate that. They may even have to run out and tackle the opposing player to prevent a more dangerous one-on-one situation.


If you keep up with football news, you’ll have most likely noticed how the phrase “ball-playing goalkeeper” seems to come up quite often. So many teams seem to be looking for ball-playing keepers now, and it’s not hard to see why. You only have to look at the impact of Ederson at Manchester City to see how this kind of keeper can improve a side.

As the name suggests, ball-playing keepers have to be able to play the ball. They’ll often try to keep the ball at their feet, rather than picking it up and rolling or throwing it out. This allows them to play more precise passes, through balls, or long balls over the top to help their side. They also use dribbling skills to advance the play or stop an opposing forward from stealing the ball from them.

Naturally, such keepers are defined by their passing ability. Whether it’s short or long passes, ball-playing keepers tend to have high success rates. They’re able to place the ball exactly where they want it, much more often than not. It’s a stark contrast to the keepers of yesteryear who simply kicked the ball as hard as they could and hoped for the best.


There are even goalkeepers today who are regarded as playmakers for their sides. An idea that would have seemed absurd just a couple of decades ago. After all, when you think of a traditional playmaker, you tend to think of attacking midfielders. They’re usually quite far up the pitch, in the perfect position to feed strikers and make things happen.

However, some of today’s leading keepers are also capable of playing dangerous long passes and creating chances for the forwards. They may not rack up huge numbers of assists, but they often instigate attacking movements by making positive, forward-thinking passes. This is, once again, so different from keepers of the past.

The big skills for modern keepers include passing, of course, but also the ability to read the game. They have to be hugely concentrated, tracking player movements and keeping an eye on their forwards. If one of their strikers makes a move, they have to be ready to track it and make the crucial pass, all in a fraction of a second.

Summing Up: Broaden Your Skillset to Future-Proof Your Keeping Career

One thing is clear. Today’s keepers need to be much more well-rounded than those of the past. Of course, reflexes, diving, and shot-stopping are still hugely important. But you need more than that to truly be a great keeper nowadays. You have to feel comfortable with the ball at your feet. You have to be capable of playing precise passes, reading the game, and anticipating danger.

If you’re an aspiring young keeper eager to succeed, make sure to work on a wide range of skills. Build up the fundamentals, like stopping shots and claiming crosses, but also try more varied training drills and exercises to improve other areas. Work on your passing, train your outfield abilities, and watch the best keepers regularly to see how it’s done.

Why Fitness Matters for Goalies

You have to be fit to play football. Running around for 90 minutes. Putting your body under immense strain and pressure. It demands exceptional levels of strength and stamina. At least, that’s the view when it comes to outfield players. However, when it comes to goalkeepers, some people argue that fitness isn’t quite as important.

They contend that, since goalies don’t run about as much as their outfield teammates, they don’t need to be fit. Perhaps there was a time when there was some truth to that. If you go back a few decades and look at certain top-level keepers, they weren’t quite as slender and athletic as their teammates. However, these days, suggesting that a modern goalie doesn’t need to be fit is simply nonsense.

The Importance of Goalkeeper Fitness

Take a look at some of the top keepers of today. Courtois. Neuer. Alisson. They have different playing styles, as well as different heights and statures. But when it comes to physical fitness, they’re all amazing athletes. They undergo intense physical training regimens, just like their teammates, and they have to be immensely strong and fit.

Here are just a few reasons why.

Bursts of Pace

You probably won’t spend huge amounts of time running around as a keeper. You won’t have to sprint down the wing or burst past a defensive line. But you do still need to run when the situation calls for it. In fact, goalkeepers often find themselves having to go from standing still to sprinting at full speed. You might have to do so when rushing out for a loose ball or closing the shooting angle on an attacker, for instance.

For that, fitness is crucial. Keepers who are overweight or unfit will find it much harder to suddenly accelerate away from a standing start. They’ll also struggle to get up to the speeds they need to make those all-important runs out of the box. This is especially true if you hope to play as a sweeper keeper and need to rush out of your area now and then to sweep up danger.

Diving and Saving

Making saves is the bread and butter of every keeper. It’s arguably the No. 1 skill to master, and it’s what keepers tend to be judged on more than anything else. The best keepers are able to dive powerfully left and right, making crucial saves. They’re also able to make themselves big when forwards are bearing down on goal, making it much harder for them to score.

Again, this all requires high levels of fitness. You need immensely strong leg muscles to crouch down and build up power for your dives. You also require strong arms, wrists, and hands to punch and parry the ball away. Keepers who fail to work on their strength and conditioning will naturally concede many more goals.

Jumping and Claiming

You don’t just have to dive sideways while manning the net. Good goalkeepers also need to leap high up into the air. It’s crucial for claiming those lofted crosses and snuffing out the danger of corners and free kicks. Of course, being naturally tall helps. That’s one of the reasons why so many world-class keepers are well over six foot. But you can’t rely on height alone to save you.

Outfield players can often jump several feet into the air to get their head on the ball. You have to be able to jump even higher. Again, that requires lots of strength, particularly in the calves and thighs, as you’ll use those muscles to propel you upwards. If you don’t have sufficient strength, you could find yourself flapping at crosses and conceding lots of goals at set pieces.

Avoiding Injuries

Injuries aren’t as big of a risk for goalkeepers as they are for outfield players. You don’t tend to get as many goalies struggling with torn hamstrings or pulled groin muscles. However, that doesn’t mean goalies are immune to injury. All that diving and jumping around can put immense pressure on your joints, muscles, and bones, with possibilities of sprains, fractures, breaks, and tears.

One of the big benefits of fitness training is that it reduces your risk of injury. By conditioning and strengthening your muscles and joints, you help your body cope with the rigours of the goalkeeping position. This is particularly important for those with a history of injury or have a recurring physical weakness, like a bad knee. Working on your fitness should help you stay healthy and in-shape for longer periods.

Commanding the Box

Last but not least, fitness is also crucial for commanding your box, especially at corners and free kicks, or when crosses come sailing in from the wings. When that happens, opposing players might try muscling you out of position or pushing you around. But good keepers have the strength to stand their ground, pushing back just as hard, if not harder, to keep control of the situation.

Most of the previous sections have focused on leg strength. But this is where core and upper body strength are just as crucial. You need strong arm, chest, and back muscles to hold your position when other players are jostling against you. This also helps you push your way through a crowded penalty area to jump up and make a claim or clear the ball away. As an added bonus, defenders will tend to feel more comfortable with a strong and sturdy keeper stood behind them.

Summing Up: Fitness Is Crucial for Keepers

If you want to be a truly great keeper, you can’t neglect your fitness. In the modern age, keepers at all levels need to be fit, fast, agile, and strong. It helps you make better saves, leap higher into the air, command your box, and ultimately, win more games.

Dealing with the Highs and Lows of Being a Goalkeeper

Football is a game of highs and lows. Of course, you could say that about so many sports. But football, in particular, can feel like a rollercoaster ride every single match. One minute, everything’s going well. Your team scores a goal. You celebrate, feeling on top of the world. The next minute, everything can change. A bad tackle, a mistake, a red card, a goal conceded. It all flips in a heartbeat.

This is especially true for goalkeepers, who experience some of the highest highs and lowest lows of any player on the pitch. Naturally, goalie actions tend to come under more scrutiny than those of outfield players. If you do something great – like a big save – you look like a hero. But if you make a mistake, you soon find yourself in the role of the villain.

Dealing with all of that, mentally and emotionally, isn’t easy. It takes its toll. Indeed, many goalkeepers, even the very best, go through tough times with their mental health, and it works both ways. You can feel so elated with a good save that you become cocky and error-prone. Or, you can dwell on a bad moment so much that you start to feel anxious between the sticks.

This guide will take a look at how to cope with those two extremes – the highs and lows of being a keeper.

The Highs of Goalkeeping

Let’s start on a positive note. The highs of goalkeeping are those wonderful moments that make all your hard work worth it. They’re the big saves, the penalty heroics, the rushes from your box to stop a dangerous move before it even has time to develop. They’re the high fives from your teammates and the rushes of adrenaline that come from helping your side win a match.

In short, these are fun, positive moments. But even positive emotions can be dangerous if you don’t know how to deal with them correctly. Confidence is essential for a keeper. But those special saves and big moments can push your mindset from confident into overconfident. That’s when mistakes start to happen.

A cocky or overconfident keeper may feel that they don’t need to try as hard. They might overestimate their skills or abilities, feeling like no shot can ever get past them. That sort of attitude breeds complacency and may make you more likely to make mistakes or lose focus at key moments.

How to Deal with Them

If you want to avoid slipping on the banana skin of overconfidence as a keeper, the key is simple. Just move on. Take pride in your saves and enjoy those moments, just like how a striker would enjoy scoring a goal or a midfielder providing an assist. But remember that a game is more than moments. It’s 90 minutes of effort, concentration, and hard work.

After a striker scores a goal, they can’t stop running and working for the rest of the game. The same applies to keepers. Even if you make a super save, it won’t count for anything if you let in a goal five minutes later. So, try to use your successes to fuel you for the rest of the game. Be even more focused and determined to make them count and get the win.

The Lows of Goalkeeping

Next, the lows. While the highs are at least pleasant to experience, in spite of the inherent risks, the lows can completely destroy your mood. You let a weak shot slip between your legs, or the ball slip through your fingers. You rush out to stop a forward but end up completely missing the ball. You make a terrible call when a cross or corner comes in and concede a goal.

In those moments, many keepers say that they wish the ground would simply open up and swallow them. They want to hide, to leave the pitch, or to turn back time and do things differently. Unfortunately, none of that can happen. Instead, they have to keep on playing and invariably deal with more difficult situations as the game progresses.

Naturally, making mistakes or letting in goals can knock your confidence. Even professional keepers, with all their training and mental conditioning, suffer from this issue. They feel hopeless, lonely, ashamed, angry, a whole spectrum of emotions – almost all of them negative. This can put them into a spiral, and it can harm their performance not just for the rest of that game, but for many more games to come.

How to Deal with Them

Dealing with the lows is undoubtedly harder than dealing with the highs. But the same rule applies here. Just move on. As hard as it may be, accept your mistakes, acknowledge that they’ve happened, and then move on from them. Know that you can’t change the past. Remember that even the very best keepers in the world have been in the same position as you. Then try to let it go and get back in the game.

Remind yourself that, as stated above, football matches are more than just individual moments. They require a full hour and a half of concentration and focus. Even if you had one bad moment, you can still do your best for the other 89 minutes to support your team. That’s a much better use of your time and energy than dwelling on a mistake or replaying it in your mind.

Summing Up: The Right Attitude

If you play as a goalkeeper, there are bound to be both highs and lows. You’re going to make great saves and put in amazing performances. You’re also going to have moments when things don’t go the way you wanted. It happens to every goalie. Ultimately, the best way to cope with that is to simply accept it. Accept that you’ll have highs and lows, and that it’s just part of the game.

Every keeper has to find their own personal way of dealing with those moments and not feeling overwhelmed with emotions. Don’t let yourself get too high when the highs come, nor too low when the bad moments occur. Move on. Look forward. Focus on your next save, your next pass, your next match. If you can adopt this kind of forward-thinking mindset, you should find that those extreme high and low emotions won’t affect you quite as much.

Sweeper Keepers: All You Need to Know

Many used to believe that there was only one way to play in goal. You stayed in your area. You stopped shots to the best of your ability. You booted the ball up the pitch in dangerous situations. And you left everything else to your outfield teammates.

However, as time went by, the role of the goalie changed and became more flexible and versatile, with new ways to play. The sweeper keeper is one of those “alternative” goalkeeping roles. It’s less rigid than traditional keeping, with more freedom for keepers to do what they do best.

In this guide, we’ll explore exactly what sweeper keepers do. We’ll also look at the pros and cons that come with this role, as well as how you can become a sweeper keeper yourself.

What Is a Sweeper Keeper?

First, let’s look at the basics and define “sweeper.” A sweeper is a defender who sits deeper than the rest of the defensive line. Their job is to sweep up any balls that bypass the rest of the defence.

A sweeper keeper, therefore, is when a goalie, rather than a defender, steps into that sweeper role. They’re allowed to leave their box and move up the field. This allows them to deal with dangerous balls before opponents can make the most of them. These keepers also tend to receive the ball regularly from their defenders, and try to distribute it carefully and precisely to maintain possession.

To imagine how this works in action, picture a scene where your team is in possession. Your defenders are quite high up, not far from the halfway line. The ball is in the other half. Suddenly, the other team gains possession and launches the ball up the field, over your defenders. An opposing forward breaks through the line and rushes towards that loose ball.

In that situation, a traditional keeper would have remained rigidly in their box. They’d hope that the defenders would get back and cover them. Then, they’d have to deal with a difficult one-on-one situation and a high chance of a goal. A sweeper keeper, however, would have already been positioned on the edge of their box. They would anticipate the danger, run out, and claim the ball before anyone else.

The Advantages of the Sweeper Keeper Role

Naturally, there are a lot of advantages to having a sweeper keeper on your side. That’s especially true these days, in an era where managers like Pep Guardiola have redefined the way the game is played. As a result, many modern teams want to maintain possession as much as possible. For that to happen, it’s essential to have a keeper with good feet and distribution.

A sweeper also gives the defence more freedom to push up while the team is in possession and contribute to attacking moves. Plus, they’re often effective at suppressing the danger of long balls over the top or opposing forwards trying to beat the offside trap. In short, the presence of a sweeper keeper opens up a lot of tactical opportunities.

There are also personal benefits for the keepers themselves. Sweeper keepers tend to end up getting more involved in games than traditional shot stoppers. They have more freedom to run around, initiate attacks, and so on. This helps them build up a broader skillset, doing the work of a defender and a goalie all-in-one.

The Risks and Dangers That Come with Being a Sweeper Keeper

Unfortunately, it’s not all smooth sailing for sweeper keepers. This role comes with risk, and when sweeper keepers get things wrong, they pay a high price. For example, you might rush out to deal with a through ball, but fail to reach it in time. Alternatively, you might come out of your box to tackle an opposing forward, but make a mistake. Seconds later, they’re dribbling around you and shooting at an empty net.

Plus, since sweeper keepers try to maintain possession, they often make risky passes instead of just lumping the ball up the pitch. That, too, can backfire. In fact, it happens quite often, even to the very best sweeper keepers. You can see examples of famous goalies like Alisson, Neuer, and Ter Stegen all making the odd costly mistake while trying to sweep up danger or keep possession.

Of course, every goalie makes mistakes from time to time. But it often looks worse when sweeper keepers make them. However, this is part and parcel of the role. It’s a high-risk, high-reward way of playing. If you do it effectively, you can stop dozens of dangerous situations and even help your team score more goals. Do it poorly, and it can result in conceding a goal.

How to Become a Sweeper Keeper

Perhaps you’re an aspiring young keeper looking at different ways to play. Maybe you have a history as an outfield player. Therefore, you feel comfortable with the ball at your feet and would be a good fit as a sweeper. Or maybe you’re just a big fan of famous sweeper keepers and want to emulate their style of play. Either way, here’s what it takes.

Firstly, you need a unique set of skills. Shot stopping. Jumping. Diving. Catching. Kicking. Throwing. Those are all the base skills of any keeper. Sweeper keepers need even more. They have to be excellent readers of the game. They need “football IQ” and the ability to anticipate dangerous situations before anyone else. They also have to be confident and comfortable with the ball at their feet.

Focus and concentration are crucial. You have to be engaged with the game non-stop, ready to move up or drop back as needed. You’ve also got to make yourself available for passes and contribute more to the general flow of play than a usual keeper. If all that wasn’t enough, you need elite fitness, too – sweepers do more running than standard keepers, after all.

Of course, you need coaches who are willing to let you step up as a sweeper. Along with teammates who feel confident enough to pass to you and let you roam from your box now and then. In short, it’s a role that requires collective levels of confidence across the board, from teammates to coaching staff. But when done well, this role brings a lot to the team, so is certainly worth trying out.