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Goalkeeper Angle Play and Positioning

By Jeff Oleck - April 26, 2017

The primary role of the goalkeeper is to stop shots and keep balls out of the net.  When the ball is in shooting range ("shooting range" will vary based on the ability and level of the opponent) the goalkeeper should use his/her physical & technical qualities, as well as precise positioning to minimize the shooting area of the attacker.
Angle Play refers to the strategy that a goalkeeper will use to narrow the shooting angle of the attacker by positioning himself on the "BALL LINE" and moving closer to the ball.
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​As you can see in the picture above, there are two imaginary "ANGLE LINES" (green) which connect the ball to both the left and right posts.  If the attacker wants to score on goal, he must be able to play the ball within those boundaries to put the ball on the frame of the goal (EXCEPTION: a bending ball which curves outside the angle lines and back inside of the goal posts).​
As the goalkeeper moves along the BALL LINE (blue dotted line) through the center of the triangle, the distance to the boundaries decreases on the left and right side of the goalkeeper.  This means that as the goalkeeper closes space to the shooter, there is less room for the attacker to shoot and score.
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As shown in the picture above, when the ball moves wide and away from the center of the goal the triangle becomes more narrow.  This means that the goalkeeper will not have to move as far away from his goal to cover the space between the angle lines.
To determine how far out the goalkeeper should stand, the goalkeeper needs to have a good assessment of his own qualities (size, explosiveness, reaction speed, footwork, etc.).  Positioning will be different for different goalkeepers, and not only will your Storm goalkeeper coaches help you determine a good range for your starting position - but you must also self-assess and learn from trial-and-error in training.  For example if you are getting chipped a lot, maybe your positioning is too far away from the goal - closing the space left and right, but exposing the space over the top.
Inline image 4
Goalkeepers utilize what we call a "GOALKEEPER ARC" to determine how far out to step out towards the ball.  This ARC begins a step outside the post, extends 3-4 (typical distance, but can be adjusted based on GK qualities) yards off the goal line, and returns to a step outside the opposite post.
Inline image 7
When the goalkeeper positions himself along the GOALKEEPER ARC and on the BALL LINE, he will maximize his ability to cover the entire goal.
By moving along the GOALKEEPER ARC, the benefits are:
  • Narrowing the angle, decreasing the space the shooter can aim
  • If deflected, the ball will go wide or out of bounds
  • Maintain enough distance to react to shots
  • Minimize opportunities for the shooter to chip the goalkeeper
An overly aggressive positioning (too close to the ball and in front of the goalkeeper arc) will expose a few problems for the goalkeeper:
  • Increased opportunity for the attacker to chip the goalkeeper
  • Very little reaction time when the ball is kicked
  • A simple pass from the attacker to a teammate can eliminate the goalkeeper and create an open net
If, and when, the goalkeeper leaves his GOALKEEPER ARC he must be ready to step into a 1v1 situation or make a clean tackle/clearance on the ball outside of his penalty box.  If you want to review the 1v1 techniques that we encourage within the Storm Goalkeeper Program, please pull up the Tech Tuesday from April 11th.
Take a look at this highlight reel of Manuel Neuer from the 2014 FIFA World Cup and pay special attention to his use of the GOALKEEPER ARC when positioning himself for shots within distance of goal:
Enjoy your week of training and good luck in your games this weekend!
Coach O.