Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Don’t give away goals at goal-kicks

By David Clarke
Writing for my Touchline Tales column in Soccer Coach Weekly I was reminded of an incident which happened to a fellow coach.

A coach I was corresponding with has asked for advice, his problem he says is that “sometimes it’s better when my team gives away a corner rather than a goal-kick because we give the ball away and end up letting soft goals in”.

In 7-a-side matches, junior teams find it hard to clear the ball at goal-kicks, often resulting in the ball going straight to the opposition, who shoot straight away and end up scoring with the goalkeeper stranded.

However, I like my goalkeepers to take goal-kicks, because it is part of the responsibility they have to take on. Sometimes it will be the only time they kick the ball.

During last season I went to watch one of the other teams who I had not seen during the season play. The coach of our team was looking glum. I asked him what was wrong and he told me that the team were 3-0 down after 15 minutes all resulting from the goalkeeper kicking the ball straight to the opposition and being returned into the empty net.

“I’d let someone else take it but he’s the best kicker,” he told me. I explained that I too had experienced this problem and our solution had been to put a defender on the line at goalkicks in case the ball went straight to the opposition attackers.

Not only did this give us a chance to stop the ball but it also gave our goalkeepers the confidence to kick, and they usually kicked much better with this added security of a player on the line.

What I have also found useful with this tactic is that when you go to 11-a-side the players who have been on the line become excellent line clearers at corners and free-kicks. Of course they can no longer stand on the line at goal-kicks but the art they have learnt can be put to use in other ways.

Back at the game the coach of the U9s decided he would try the tactic in the second half. I reminded him to impress upon the goal-line defender that he mustn’t use his hands or he will give away a penalty. I told him to tell the defender on the line to advance towards the attacker to cut down the angle and make it harder for him to hit the back of the net.

In the second half the team tried the tactic out and they did notice a huge difference. Now if the opposition striker got the ball straight from the goal-kick he couldn’t just kick it straight back into the net, he had to think about what he was going to do to beat the defender on the line. It also gave more time for the goalkeeper to get back to the goal and be ready for a shot.

The coach said he would be practising at training and definitely use it from now on in the matches he played.

Here’s how he can coach his players:

Practice in your training sessions
Players: Goalkeeper, two attackers and your goalline defender.
Where: Use the goalmouth on your pitch making it as realistic as possible.
Aims: Goalkeeper kicks out and the two attackers win it and advance on the goal. Your goalline defender must advance towards them at speed and so must your goalkeeper. You’ll be amazed at the number of times the attackers miss or shoot straight at your goalline defender.

Here’s a clip that may stir a few memories…

Even the professionals get it wrong…

 Soccer Skills and Drills


13 Comments so far
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Goalkicks always scare me because the players seem to turn off when one is being taken. Either on offense or defense they don’t see the goalkick as an opportunity.

Worst part about the first video is the man standing next to the goal who flips out when the goal is scored. Lots of refs won’t allow parents/coaches/fans to stand next to the goal like that.

Comment by Ace

I’ve come across this several times at the youth level. You can counter it by either doing what you suggested, or get a stronger kicker to take the kick.

However, if the objective is to get the keeper used to taking the goal-kicks, then I think you’ve pretty much got it covered.

If I have a weak kicker as a keeper then I will tell him to aim for the coaches on the sideline. That way, the ball is away from danger and if we turn over possession the ball is away from our goal.

Comment by CoachLee

Back up the above comments , that guy behind the goal ( maybe dad ) totally wrecking the confidence of the of the keeper and also the shouting from the sidelines worries me more that the wrong decision where to kick the ball from.
Who would be a keeper

Comment by tony

In Finland (7 v 7) the goalkick can be given anywhere inside the penalty area. Logically all keepers bring the ball to the edge of the pen. area. By doing this the required length of the goalkick is reduced by 10 meters.

Comment by Mikael

Looking at the ‘funny goal’ i cant help but get exasperated by the parent stood behind the goal shouting exasperated abuse at the crest fallen goalkeeper. Lets all work to get rid of this from our junior game NOW.

Comment by DodgyCoach

with regards to the clip above from the junior game.

Just have a look at the reaction of the adult standing on the goal line after the other team scroes. It sums up everything that is wrong with the junior game.

Just let them play and when they make mistakes they will learn from them.

Comment by Richard Nurrish

As someone said above, why not teach either A: kick/pass the ball to the side or B: have the GK take the kick from a more central position (there’s no rule to say the GK has to take the kick from outside of the frame of the goal). Of course, B does make A a longer kick – so one or the other.

It’s not really that complicated.

Comment by Oppong

In the first and last clip of “Stupid Goalkeepers” the field player committed a foul.

Comment by Ihor V.Kutynsky

Have the player make the choice…usually young players emulate or follow what they are told…best have them think it thru…have a mistake or two in practice and learn from it…
Kicking practice keep your yard clean is a good way to practice it and play the scrimmage where every dead ball is a goal kick…have many players take them especially the goalkeepers…
I have noticed its usually a lacking in confidence that causes bad goal kicks and errors such as that… even in the pro players’ mistakes they are all mental type errors not lacking in skill…

Comment by Scott Taylor

idiotic ‘supporter’ aside, my assistant and I have witnessed this tactic over the past three seasons and am pleased to say as they’ve got older (kicks generally get longer) this tactic has diminished.

Personnally I view it as almost cheating, technically within the laws and I can fully understand the merits of what it achieves, and I’d agree it is a successful tactic, but not one I’d ever adopt for one of my teams.

Being an avid fan of attacking football this tactic is very negative, instantly the opposition has a player advantage (a situation you are always trying to manipulate and then exploit) and whilst we did concede a high percentage of our goals from goal kicks whilst U7’s, the earlier you use that extra player, preferably for a short goal kick, the sooner the team becomes proficent at maintianing possession and building from goal kicks.

Now at U9’s we often score from a passage of play from short goal kicks.

Short term gain, medium term not such a good tactic I’d suggest!

Comment by Simo

When I was in Holland they let the goalies punt the ball instead of use goal kicks. The older teams could goal kick from the 18 box instead of the 6. This eliminated the problem entirely and they could play football just like the pro’s. The kicks could get to the half way line and it looked like real football.

Comment by Kearn

Also forgot to mention anyone on the team can kick a goal kick from the top of the 18 line not just your best kicker. They also allowed corners to be taken from anywhere on the end line out side the box. This also allowed anyone on the team to take the kick and also resembled real football because the ball could be played in front of the goal. The Dutch have the right idea. Simple rule changes to allow kids to be sucessful.

Comment by Kearn

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