Goalkeeping: The Importance of Using Your Head

      Comments Off on Goalkeeping: The Importance of Using Your Head

Perhaps you’re wondering why a goalkeeper should need to head a ball? If you pay attention to soccer games, either professional or amateur matches, you’ll notice two scenarios where heading the ball will be useful in getting out of a sticky situation.

  • An elevated back pass or a miss hit ball by a member of his own team, which the goalie cannot pick up using his hands due to a foul being committed.
  • When a long ball comes in over the defenders, there may be no other choice but for the keeper to leave his goal and attempt to divert the ball, or take on the opposition striker. The goalkeeper may do this either before the ball bounces or after.

There is one purpose and one purpose only for the keeper to head a ball. That is to get it as far away as he possibly can from the goal. Normally this requires heading the ball wide and high as this allows the defenders to reorganise and cope with the attack whilst the goalkeeper retreats to his penalty area.

Training Exercise

This is a simple exercise for the goalkeeper and just needs one other player to serve the ball.

Standing roughly 10 feet from the goalkeeper, the server throws the ball high in the air, aiming for a distance of 4-5 yards from the keeper.

The goalkeeper must run toward the ball, heading it high and further up the pitch.

The exercise is intended to increase the confidence of the goalie in using headers. It may take a while for him to feel comfortable doing this as he is used to catching the ball with his hands.

Once the awkwardness has passed and he is feeling more comfortable with his heading, the serving player retreats a further 5 yards. Keep repeating the drill and this time ask the goalkeeper to aim the ball diagonally up the pitch.

Build up the pressure

When the keeper is displaying confidence in heading, the server retreats even further to a distance similar to half the pitch and a third player is introduced in the attacking position.

As normal, the server throws the ball. The keeper, using only his head, must clear it before it reaches the penalty area but in this case, the pressure is increased by the introduction of the attacker.

The attacking player shouldn’t attempt contact with the ball just yet, it’s enough for the moment for him to jump in front of the goalkeeper or just along with him. The main purpose of him being there is simply to make the keeper aware of his presence.

Keep repeating this exercise, with the attacker increasing pressure each time until both players are fully challenging for the ball.

Key objectives

  • Building the goalkeeper’s confidence, so he can perform headers if required.
  • Increase his proficiency in challenging with his head without committing a foul. As the last defender, preventing a possible goal scoring chance by fouling will without doubt produce a red card from the referee.
  • Ensure the goalkeeper realises how crucial it is to clear the ball both wide and high. This allows defenders to regroup and provide cover as the keeper retreats to the penalty area.