10 Goalie Drills to Help You Save Every Shot in Soccer

When it comes to soccer, everyone thinks about the teammates playing on the field rather than in goal. In fact, the goalie is one of the least talked about players despite actually being one of the most difficult positions to play.

Goalkeepers have to be on the ball at all times, never switching off for the full time. They need to know where the ball is coming from and, with a second’s notice, defer it away from the goal to prevent the opposition from earning a point. 

Coaches must put as much time and effort into their goalies as they do the rest of the team so that the team works as unitedly as possible. Remember, a team with one poor player is a poor team altogether.

If you’re a coach for a young team, chances are that you won’t have one specific player in goal. Instead, each player will take turns in goal, rotating every game or so. This can make it difficult to build up one great goalkeeper.

Goalkeeper drills are ideal for you to use with young players so that you can assess their performance. Some people are better suited on the field, while others are shining goalies in the making.

We’ve listed 10 drills below that will help you find your team’s best goalie. Use these drills to keep their skills sharp and their training enjoyable. It can become rather mundane being in goal all the time, so keep them interested with the following goalie drills.

10 Goalie Drills You Need To Know And Use In Training

1. Goalkeeper Reaction

What is it?

The goalkeeper needs to react to two attacking players receiving a ball from a passer behind them. The goalie doesn’t know which will get the ball and must think in a split second to save a short-range shot.

Why use it?

Improve goalie awareness, positioning, decision-making, and ball catching. The attackers will also improve their close-range shots and ability to finish on a goal.

How to set it up?

Use three mannequins or cones 3 yards away from outside of the penalty box. They should have equal spacing between each one and all parallel from the penalty box.

Place one cone 12 yards above each mannequin to pose as the starting position for each attacker.

You’ll need a full-size goal or cones to replicate a goal area. Position your goalie in the goal with three extra players on the attacker cones. Give the central attacker enough balls to last the entire round. 4 to 6 balls should be enough.

Method

  1. The central attacking player dribbles the ball towards the mannequins.
  2. The attackers on the wings begin running towards the outside of the mannequins, ready to receive the ball.
  3. The central attacker passes the ball to one of the attackers behind the mannequins.
  4. The goalie must get into position as soon as the ball is passed to try and work out all scoring angles and how to save them.
  5. The attacker who now has the ball makes a one-touch shot or attempts to dribble around the goalie. They are not allowed to use the other attackers for help.
  6. The goalkeeper attempts to save the ball. After a save or a goal, the drill is reset and restarted. Continue this drill until the goalkeeper has completed 10 repetitions.

2. Agility Hands

What is it?

The goalie does footwork through a number of cones before catching soccer balls kicked towards them from a short distance.

Why use it?

Footwork is typically forgotten about with goalies, so it works on footwork as well as their ability to catch balls accurately.

How to set it up?

Use a full-sized goal with a box, making your goalie more comfortable with their surroundings. You can do this without a goal, but it’s suggested that you use one for convenience.

Set up some cones before the goal for the goalie to work through. These might be in a zigzag pattern or a straight line for the goalie to use. Assess what needs improving with their footwork and set the cones up in the best way to do this.

Place two mannequins 7 yards apart at the end of the cone sequence. If you don’t have mannequins to use, try some different colored cones.

Position the goalie on the goal line with two extra goalkeepers or players used as servers. Have the servers stand 5 yards from each mannequin with a soccer ball in their hands. Give each of them another 5 balls to keep the drill moving.

Method

  1. The goalie moves through the cones quickly before moving to the outside of one mannequin.
  2. As soon as they reach the mannequin, the server behind the mannequin drop kicks the ball towards the goalie.
  3. The goalkeeper needs to catch the ball and throw it back to the server before shuffling to the other mannequin where the second server will repeat this process.
  4. After throwing the ball back to the second server they will work through the cones again to their starting position.
  5. This drill is repeated until they catch a ball 12 times.
  6. Switch the footwork cones and repeat this entire method three times.

3. Rapid Fire

What is it?

Two players take it in turns to shoot four soccer balls from opposite ends of the penalty box, with one goalie attempting to block as many shots as possible.

Why use it?

Works on agility and speed of the goalkeeper to save shots in quick succession. In a game of soccer, this can be an invaluable skill. Reaction time and footwork are also improved.

How to set it up?

Position one goalkeeper in front of one full-sized goal. Have two extra players at either end of the penalty area.

Line four balls up along the penalty line for each of the extra players, who will be posing as the opposition. If you don’t have a penalty area, have the balls around 18 yards from the goal.

You can set this up as a competition between goalies to see who can block the most attempts.

Method

  1. The first attacker will take a shot and the goalie will attempt to save it.
  2. Once the first ball has been saved or scored, the second attacker will take their shot.
  3. The goalie must get back up in time to try and save the second ball.
  4. The shooters will repeat this process until there are no more balls to play.
  5. Remember that the shooters need to wait until the ball before their turn has reached the goalie before they shoot. Otherwise, it will be too quick.
  6. Reset for another round, giving the goalkeeper a break in between. Have each goalie complete three to four rounds of this drill.

4. Under Pressure

What is it?

The goalie begins with a goal kick and tries to play out the defenders’ pressure as much as possible. The goalkeeper attempts to pass the ball to their teammates around the back of the opposition’s defenders.

Why use it?

This drill helps the goalkeeper’s confidence when passing the ball within short range while under pressure.

They can work on their quick decision-making and feel more inclusive of the team by helping their teammates play out their opponent’s pressure.

How to set it up?

You’ll need one half of the field and one full-sized goal on the end line. Create two cone gates on the half-line around 10 to 15 yards inside of each sideline. The cone gates should be 4 yards wide.

You’ll need seven additional players along with the goalie. Using field players will also help them train for these types of situations. Four players will be marked as on the goalie’s team and the other three will be on the opposing side.

You’ll need a line of cones 15 yards from the edge of the penalty box with the three defenders standing behind it. The four other players will be in a 3-1 formation.

Method

  1. The goalie starts with the ball and passes it to one of their teammates, who will pass it back to the goalie.
  2. Once the receiving player touches the ball the opposition can move to add more pressure.
  3. The goalie attempts to pass to another teammate while playing out the pressure. The goalie’s team should try to get the ball through the two gates.
  4. The defenders need to avoid this from happening by putting pressure on the other team.
  5. Repeat this process six times, with the goalkeeper completing two rounds.

5. Tip The Ball Over

What is it?

The goalkeeper starts on a 6-yard line and backpedals towards the goal, attempting to tip a thrown ball over the crossbar.

Why use it?

Your goalie can learn and improve on their backward recovery as well as learning another way to save the ball. When it’s not possible to catch or deflect the soccer ball, tipping it over the crossbar might be the only way to save a shot.

They can also work on their recovery speed when out of position.

How to set it up?

Have one full-sized goal with a goalkeeper positioned just outside of it on the 6-yard line. You’ll need one extra player to act as the opposition. We suggest using another goalie as they can work on their throwing skills.

The second goalkeeper will stand 12 to 15 yards away from the goal with a good number of soccer balls to use.

Method

  1. The server throws the ball over the goalkeeper towards the goal. This can be from any direction. Their aim is for the ball to drop into the goal just below the crossbar.
  2. The goalie needs to quickly move backward, timing their jump perfectly so that they can tip the ball over the crossbar.
  3. Once the ball has either been scored or saved, the goalkeeper returns to their starting position and the drill starts over again. The server might adjust their position to make it harder for the goalkeeper.
  4. Eight repetitions can be done of this drill, with three rounds being completed by the end of training. Swap out the goalies in between so that they can both work on their skills.

6. Goalie Wars

What is it?

Two goalies battle head to head attempting to score in one another’s goal. The goalies can kick, dropkick, or throw the ball to try and catch their opponent out.

Why use it?

A fun and competitive game that helps improve footwork, distribution, agility, and confidence. It puts less pressure on the goalies as two are being watched rather than only one.

How to set it up?

Create a 20 x 15 grid of cones with one cone on each of the sidelines to mark the halfway point. Have one full-size goal at either end of the grid. Use a few cones to mark 5 yards in front of each goal, otherwise known as the goalie zone.

Put one goalkeeper in each goal with a good number of soccer balls to prevent a stop and start repetition. Decide on a time limit or a goal limit to announce the winner. For example, four minutes or the first goalie to score five goals wins.

Method

  1. The starting goalie attempts to score in the opposing goal by throwing or kicking the ball. They cannot leave the goalie zone to take their shot.
  2. The defending goalie must attempt to save the ball.
  3. If the ball is saved, the goalie who saved it gets to attempt a goal at the other goal. However, if the ball is not saved, the original starting goalie gets to take another shot.
  4. If the ball hits the goal post or the defending goalie gives up a rebound and the ball rolls back into the starting goalie’s half, the original goalie gets to take a one-touch shot attempt from within their half.
  5. The game continues until the round is finished (either by a number of goals scored or minutes passed).
  6. Rest before starting another round. A good way to make the drill longer is to have a best of three match, where whoever wins two out of three rounds is the overall winner of the drill.

7. Deflect and Dive

What is it?

The goalkeeper will attempt to block low shots and high shots in quick succession at opposite ends of the goal.

Why use it?

Teach your goalie to move instantly from one side of the goal to another all the while blocking shots. Improves quickness and agility.

How to set it up?

You’ll need one full-sized goal for the deflect and dive goal. One goalie should be positioned on the goal line.

You’ll need three extra players to use as servers. Number one will start on the goal end line, 2 yards off from the goalposts.

Number two will be inside the field, 8 yards from the goal post that number one is not in front of.

Finally, number three will also be inside the field, 9 yards away from the goal line in the center of the goal. Give numbers one and three a good number of soccer balls to keep the drill rolling.

Method

  1. Server one low passes one ball to server two.
  2. The goalie gets ready to save the ball, taking into consideration all possible scoring angles.
  3. Server two takes a low shot and the goalie attempts to save the ball.
  4. Immediately after the low shot, server three throws a high ball towards the corner nearest the post that the goalie isn’t at. The goalie needs to dive to block or catch the ball.
  5. Take a few seconds break before resetting and starting the drill again. Complete for another 3 repetitions. 
  6. Switch the sides of the servers so that the goalie can work their other side equally.
  7. Repeat the process for another four rounds.

8. Traffic Crosses

What is it?

The goalie works through a number of mannequins as other players pass a ball through the penalty area for the goalie to catch or deflect.

Why use it?

Work on the goalie’s footwork and ability to move around their goal areas. They’ll also improve their catching skills and timing, as well as the confidence to save a ball in a crowded penalty box.

How to set it up?

Have three to four mannequins positioned around the 6-yard box. You can also use poles or flags if you don’t have mannequins. You might even choose to use passive players if you have a lack of equipment. You’ll need a full-size goal.

The goalie starts in the 6-yard box. You’ll need at least one extra player to serve the ball.

If you have more than one extra player you can use them in succession to take turns as servers. The server will need access to at least five balls to keep the drill moving smoothly.

Method

  1. The server starts by crossing the ball through the air into the penalty box. This should aim to be delivered between 6 and 10 yards away from the goal so that the goalkeeper can move to the ball.
  2. As the ball is hit the goalie starts to work around the mannequins before jumping to catch the ball at the highest point they can. They can also deflect the ball, but catching offers better benefits.
  3. Once they catch the ball the goalie throws it back to the server to work on their distribution skills.
  4. Both players reset their positions and the drill is repeated for however many repetitions you want to conduct. Have each goalie complete at least three rounds of this drill.

9. Move With The Ball

What is it?

One goalie is put up against five players all moving along the penalty area, passing one ball between them.

The goalie needs to move with the ball so that when one of these five players takes a shot, they have the best chance at saving the ball.

Why use it?

Helps the goalkeeper work on their positioning, quick thinking, and footwork. Their reaction times will also improve as well as their confidence.

How to set it up?

Have one full-size goal with one goalie positioned in it. You’ll need five extra players who can be goalies or other players. You can also do this with three or four extra players if you’re short.

Have the extra players positioned around the penalty area with one ball in play. A good supply of other balls should be kept behind these extra players when needed.

Method

  1. The extra players in the penalty area start moving around and passing the ball to one another.
  2. The goalie needs to keep an eye on the ball and keep moving to the optimal position to save it, should the player shoot.
  3. The extras can decide when to take a shot if they think that the goalie is out of position.
  4. The goalkeeper attempts to save the ball.
  5. A new ball will be used among the extras now and the drill repeats. This can be repeated five or six times before giving the players a rest. Each goalie should complete a few rounds before the drill is finished.

10. Turn, Find, Dive

What is it?

The goalkeeper will turn and locate an incoming target ball from the six balls in total that have been thrown towards them. They must find this before the ball reaches the goal so that they can dive to save it.

Why use it?

Develops the goalie’s reaction times and vision. They’ll also be able to improve their agility and footwork and be able to determine whether an incoming ball is on target or not.

How to set it up?

One goalie needs to be in one full-sized goal or similar made from cones or sticks. The goalkeeper is facing back towards the net.

There are three other players on the 6-yard line with one soccer ball in each hand. This means that you’ll need six soccer balls, although one needs to be another color to all the rest.

Method

  1. At the whistle blow, the three servers will toss their balls into the 6-yard area in front of the goal.
  2. The coach will then shout ‘Go’, signaling that the goalie is allowed to turn and find the target ball before attempting to dive and cover it.
  3. The servers collect their balls again and everyone resets to their original position.
  4. Repeat the drill 6 times before resting the goalkeeper. Repeat the drill for another two to three rounds.