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Tournament Goal Keeping

This is one of the articles and training sessions on goalkeeping and other topics that will be published this month in the Training Center. Click Here to learn how you can receive access to all of them.

By Josh Jones-Keen –

With summer here small sided tournaments are also here and with them they bring their own challenge for outfield players but also for those in goal.

The smaller and sometimes wider goals mean Keepers have to adjust their positioning more than if they were in a full size goal as shots are often hit at tight angles or cut back for a striker whose facing goal. Often the area is much smaller and Keepers might not be able to leave it, which brings its own problems! Distribution is also another challenge. Here is some prep that coaches and Keepers can work on for small tournaments.

Firstly read the rules! I was at a tournament the other day and there were a number of penalties for encroachment from a defender or for the Keeper leaving the box!

Shot Stopping

Most tournament goals are short and wide (not as wide as a full size but in comparison to the height they’re wide this means shots should be low and hard. Any shots higher should be a comfortable save for the Keeper getting across their goal with good footwork, quick short sidesteps. For diving saves:

Coaching Points

  • Again good footwork is needed to get in to position
  • Dive forwards to the ball, diving square or backwards could allow the ball to go for a corner or worse a goal if a mistake happens
  • Body shape through the air and when landed should look like it would if catching a ball in to the chest area when standing

As well as dealing with shots a good way to practice footwork is with cone and ladder work. Once footwork is good you can add the shot stopping element to it.


Like a regular game the Keeper should get down the line of the ball when the striker is preparing to shoot. The difficulty comes when with knowing how far to come off their line. This now depends on the size of the area.


It’s important that the outfield work for the Keeper here. It’s tough if you’re looking at a field with no space and no movement. As a rule at least one defender should be free.  Often there is a no kicking rule and sometimes a no over head throwing rule so we will look at rolling first.

Coaching Points

  • Hold ball between palm and forearm with bent wrist
  • Step forwards with the opposite foot, get low and bowl the ball along the floor
  • Finger tips brush against the floor to ensure the ball doesn’t bobble/bounce

This can be practised one on one or if you have a group of Keepers I like to use it as a warm up in a 20 x 20 square. Coach shouts a type of distribution and the players perform the technique and move around the box.  It’s also a great place to practice footwork.


By Josh Jones-Keen – Josh has been coaching Goalkeepers for over a decade & has both Outfield and Goalkeeper coaching awards from England and Scotland. He’s coached at a number of levels from grassroots to semipro and currently coaches non league Women’s team as well as a local academy.