Goalkeeper Positioning, Angle Play & Breakaway Saves

The following session comes from Tony DiCicco & Deb Raber and was presented at the 2017 Soccer Champions Coaches' Clinic. Find out more about the Soccer Champions Coaches' Clinic.

For vertical positioning here's a suggested guideline:

  • The penalty area is split into natural thirds (6 / 12 / 18)
  • We also train in thirds of the field (defending / middle / attacking)

With the ball in different thirds of the field the goalkeeper mimics his/her positioning in the third of the box to match the third of the field - i.e. with the ball in the attacking third the goalkeeper is at the top of the box.

Questions to ask in relation to vertical positioning:

  • What are the opposition's attacking options (through pass, short pass, long pass, shoot, dribble, etc?)
  • What are the goalkeeper's athletic and technical abilities?
goalkeeper positioning

For the visual learner, a rope (solid lines) can be a handy tool to reinforce horizontal positioning with the ball in the final 1/3rd - the goalkeeper will move left to right along an angle arch trying to stay on his/her ball line (dashed line).

Physical and technical


  • 3 goalkeepers / 3 servers
  • Three cones in a triangle in the goal mouth
  • For safety of goalkeepers, service shuold be into or close to the goalkeeper's body line (no diving)

Emphasis on ready position and proper catching

After goalkeeper makes the save, goalkeeper bowls ball back to server's feet and uses proper footwork back to center of the goal - moves to next window


  • 3 goalkeepers / 3 servers
  • Top server takes a shot on goal
  • After the save, goalkeeper bowls ball back to server and moves across. Angle arch for shot from wide server.