Saving through balls

This session should help your goalkeeper anticipate through balls and cover the attacking player in 1v1s. To be successful, it’s important that the keeper assesses the first touch of the attacker, which should give a hint as to whether he will dribble or shoot.

Set up

You need balls, bibs, cones and goals. We used 14 players in the session.

How to do it

Save through balls

Use just under half a full pitch, positioning a goal and a goalkeeper in their normal position at one end and mark out a 10×15-yard box between the penalty area and the centre circle. Split the outfield players into a team of four attackers and a team of two defenders, who play a 4v2 in the marked out box. One covering defender is stationed in a position that allows the attackers to remain in an onside position. Play starts with the attackers, who pass the ball around the small box to keep it away from the defenders. After three passes, one attacker can break free and attack the goal – but once he leaves the box to start his attack, the recovering defender is allowed to run to challenge or to defend the goal behind the keeper.

small sided game goalkeeper

Then play a small sided game to create 1v1 situations for the goalkeeper to deal with. Set up an area of 60×40 yards with a goal and a goalkeeper at each end. Divide the pitch into three equal sized areas. Play 6v6 in the central zone. The game is directional. The team in possession must try to get one attacking player into a 1v1 situation with the keeper. One attacker can break out of the area as soon as a ball has been played into the final third, and one recovering defender can follow.


Look for your keeper to adopt a good starting position, which is advanced enough to win a heavy or misplaced pass but deep enough not to be chipped.

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