Following one or two requests for ‘The PEP Talk’ to focus on goalkeepers, we’ve decided to briefly answer some of your questions regarding this specific area! With only one goalkeeper currently on the Soccer Reviews team (Andrew), I turned my attention to a friend of mine who was happy to answer some of your questions!
Q1. How do you line up your wall during free kicks?
There are many ways the keeper can line up his wall, which usually depend on the distance the taker is from the goal and at what angle the free kick is being taken from. Most keepers will use between 2-4 players unless it is a free kick after a pass back when you just stick as many players as you can in the wall. For example if there is a free kick about 20-25 yards out I would use around 3-4 players having one as an ANCHOR player (meaning the one you line up with the post) then place one player on either side of them. The keeper should then find his angle, the centre of his goal and the line to the ball then position his/herself one step to the left or right according to which side the free kick is being taken from. The keeper should always be on their toes so they are able to get across if the taker is able to put the ball in the corner of the goal.
Some keepers will use an extra player to stand on the end of the wall so they can charge down the ball, some keepers will tell their wall to either jump or not depending on how the keeper is able to deal with the free kick. A keeper should always be loud and clear when trying to organise his wall, as this is what protects him from having the taker having the whole goal to aim for, so he/she should always be ready to marshal his/her defence when a free kick is given away to the opposing team.
2. Is it best standing still or moving side-to-side to distract penalty takers?
Many keepers have different ways of trying to put off a penalty taker. For example, Manuel Neuer jumps up and hits the crossbar three times to show how big he is, Van Der Sar used to stand off from the side of the goal before it was taken and many people will know the Bruce Grobbelar crazy legs incident. But for me I stand just off my line and wait for the referee to put me back on my line before the kick is taken. To be honest I just guess the way the player will take it but I do have one way of looking for a way. I watch the approach of the players run up, if a player is running straight on at the ball he will tend to put it down the middle, a wider run to the side of the ball is dependent on which corner they will put it, where they will tend to run wider to put it in the far corner or closer to put it in the near corner. But in a penalty kick the keeper has everything to gain from it.
It is argued by goalkeepers that playing in goal is the hardest position on the field. For this reason, there are so many potential questions to ask about playing there. If you have any, feel free to leave your questions below. Thanks to James for answering my questions. Leave your thoughts on this article in the comments section below!