Is there a mathematical approach to goalkeeping? It’s a question that goes through my mind often when creating a drill for my goalkeeper trainees. And while we may be oblivious to this notion whilst conducting a drill (we often look toward technique alone) if we are “calculated” in our approach to specific drills then we can certainly create greater efficiencies in the way a goalkeeper covers their goal area. I believe that goalkeeping is in fact a great study of angles. Understanding how a goalkeeper attacks the ball at a certain angle will provide a good sign post as to how efficiently they will reach a ball attacked across the goal area. Here are a few key points in understanding how a goalkeeper should approach a shot on goal, and tools in their arsenal to enhance their “angle work”:
1. Getting “centered”: This principle pertains to the need for the goalkeeper to be centered across the goal line at different intervals depending on the direction the ball is being shot from. The following diagram will give an overview of where a goalkeeper should stand whilst centered facing a shot on goal directly. The ball (in this scenario) may move across the goal at different angles, though the more the goalkeeper moves off their line, the more effectively they will be able to cover their goal.
If the goalkeeper moves off their line and attacks the ball at a 20-30 degree angle the goalkeeper will curb the attack on goal extremely effectively. The subsequent diagrams show the same principle though with the goalkeeper attacking the ball shot toward their near post (both left and right side).
2. Moving forward: Being able to understand when and in what situations to move forward is an art form in itself. It takes precise understanding of your surrounding goal area. Movement should always flow with the game. Therefore, as the team moves up, you move to compensate and act a defensive aide at all times.
As the team unit moves back, then you compress back into goals, but never venture so far back that you are on your goal line. Standing on your goal line provides many options for your opposition to score, standing off your goal line, reduces attacking options for your opposition (their line of sight is obstructed, though it also means you have to rely on agility and fluidity of attack to be effective off your line). It’s a simple concept, but one which many goalkeepers forget to enact.
The following diagram shows just how effectively a goalkeeper can cut off an angle as they move forward out of their goal area (note: movement forward to attack a ball in or just outside the 18 yard box, takes a lot of time and practice): Therefore, 2 key concepts are always vital if you want to be more efficient on goal, that is, attacking motion (moving forward) when centered at any angle in goal, and being able to move with the flow of the game to help enact attack and curb defense.