Goalie practice tips and techniques?

What goalie practice is appropriate for 6-12 year old player?

Coaches introducing basic goalie practice to young players that would like to play the position should include catching, diving, positioning and kicking.

The goalie position is very unique so the best way to teach young goalies is to introduce the players to a coach that has played or coached the goalie position.

No access to a goalie coach? The coach can teach the basic skills like catching, positioning and diving? Check out the practice tips, ideas on training goalkeepers below...

No Goalie coach?

What challenges will coaches face? How and when to train goalies during goalie practice?

The options for coaches are to run a couple of goalie exercises during practice so the kids get a feel for the basics; use a separate  coach to take the goalies for some training, combining the goalies with the field players (the goalies use their hands and players use their feet), include goalies in small sided games at the end of training so they can apply what they have learned.

A team playing smaller than 3v3 or 4v4 does not really have to worry about goalie practice.

A team playing 5v5, 6v6, 7v7, 8v8, 9v9 or 11v11 will probably have a couple of kids that like to play in goal. This is a great situation for the goalies as they can split a half. The kids still get field time which is very important.

Coaching point: There is one danger in seeing a kid play in goal too early. The kid might change his or her mind and want to be a field player, so if the kid has not developed sufficient foot skills they could be playing catch up if they choose to play on the field and not in goal.

Cross training is important as the kids need to be good with their feet to play in goal. Later down the line the goalie will have to pass, possibly dribble or strike the soccer ball so these skills will be important.

The coach might have to play kids that are not goalies at the earlier ages to find out who likes the goalie position. The coach will run the risk of giving up goals, but the kids will learn about goal keeping. :)

5 fundamentals of goalie practice

Catching the soccer ball

  • The W formation is basic way a goalie catches a ball.
  • Both palms turned out towards the ball.
  • The W is formed by the thumbs and index fingers.

Welcome position

  • The players stands in the shape of a gorilla absorbing the ball as it comes to the stomach area.
  • Once the goalie catches the ball the player hides the ball from the opposition.
  • The ball is coming in about mid level - stomach - the goalie has to catch the ball.
  • The hands have palms facing out and thumbs facing out.

Staying on your feet

Young goalies often show up to goalie practice with knee pads on...this should alert the coach that the keeper is going to drop to their knees and scoop the ball up.

A better technique is getting young keepers to move their feet and get their body behind the ball.

Diving and rolling

Diving is one of the most difficult aspects of the goalie position to learn...

  • An easy way to teach goalies is to start by having the goalie on their knees or backside, so they get used to an easy save first.
  • The goalie sits on his or her backside.
  • The coaches tosses the soccer ball to the side and the goalie rolls onto the shoulder with hands behind the soccer ball.
  • The player should move forward and not sideways.

The goalie sits on his or her knees: The player starts on his or her knees and falls slightly forward with hands behind the soccer ball

Goalkeeper distribution

  • Distribution for young goalies is throwing and kicking.
  • The best way to teach young players is in small sided games during goalie practice.
  • The players roll the ball out to open players, so as to retain possession during goalie practice.
  • This also helps communication between defenders and goalkeeper. 

Punting can be interesting at this age because young players need to get the technique down to be effective. The technique is toe down and ankle locked hitting underneath the soccer ball to get height.

5 basic exercises for goalie practice


The young goalie will bounce the ball on the ground so the ball pops back up so the player can use the "W" to catch the ball. The goalie should make the ball stick to his or her hands. Repeat until the kid is comfortable with the skill.


Play this fun diving game with your players in goalie training...

  • The coach gets the kids in pairs.
  • The goalies start on their knees 5-8 yards apart sitting up straight not back on heels.
  • Goalie "A" rolls the ball to the side of goalie "B", who goes down and gets hands out - W sideways, body square to the ball to make the save.

Rolling balls

Teach the kids distribute the soccer ball...

  • Goalies 5-8 yards apart, standing position.
  • Goalie "A" rolls the ball goalie "B" the receiving player moves his or her feet and gets the body in front of the ball, hands down and legs together.

If there is a mistake the players legs cover.

Punting - kicking the soccer ball

The goalie will hold the ball in both hands, let it drop while stepping and planting the non kicking foot. When the ball gets to its lowest point the player swings the leg and kicks the ball. The player must make contact under the soccer ball.

Coaching tip: Remember toe down and ankle locked.

Game: Goalie stands in or behind the goal line and punts the ball into the net...easy way to practice kicking/punting technique.

Learn more on striking the soccer ball during goalie practice so young players can hit goal kicks.

Distributing the soccer ball

The coach can have the young goalies roll the soccer ball to open players so the ball is easy to control. Distribution can be accomplished in the small sided games and helps field players because they have to learn to get open and take a touch and play soccer.

Coaching tip: Coaches institute a no punting rule for the young soccer goalie so they have to work on distribution.

Check out this video on goalkeeper basics!

Thanks for checking out goalie soccer practices!

Whatever the coach does it should be kept very basic. If you have access to a coach that has trained goalkeepers that is a bonus otherwise check out...

This program is a complete outline for goalies of all ages. Young players at this age should continue to develop their foot skills as well so they are well rounded players.

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