Near Post Play


The goalkeeper should picture an imaginary line extending from the center of the goal out through the corner of the six yard box and continuing on to the edge of the 18 yard box connecting with the edge of the 18 yard box and running back towards the goal line to form a triangle (Blue Shaded Area). He should do this for both sides of the goal.

Whenever the ball is located inside this blue shaded area the goalkeeper should apply 'Near Post' tactics.

 Goalkeeper Ready Position - Wide Angle

When executing 'Near Post' tactics the goalkeeper should utilize ' Ready Position #4 - Wide Angle'.

During Near Post situations the ball is located very close to the goal so the goalkeeper will not have a lot of time to react once a shot is taken.

He must try to cover as much of the goal as possible without letting the ball slip through him. Fortunately for the goalkeeper, when the ball is located at wide positions the target area of the goal is very narrow.

The goalkeeper should stand with the feet just slightly apart so that the ball cannot slip though the legs.

The upper body should be leaning slightly forwards towards the ball to ensure that the goalkeeper does not fall backwards when the shot is taken.

The arms are extended out from the side of the body with palms facing towards the ball.

Once the goalkeeper knows how to stand in the goal, the next thing he must consider is where to stand in the goal.

To know where he must stand, the goalkeeper first has to picture an imaginary line extending out from the goal line up the field starting at about one step just past the near goal post.

The goalkeeper should then utilize the principles of Angle Play.

The next consideration is how close to the ball should the goalkeeper stand?

In the above diagram, Position #1 is too far out of the goal and Position #3 is too far in the goal. The ideal position is Positon #2.

It also happens to be located directly on the imaginary line that the goalkeeper pictured extending out from the goal line.

This is the ideal location for the goalkeeper to stand for several reasons.

The first is that the goalkeeper is far enough out of the goal to cover almost the entire goal scoring area with very little movement required.

This position also allows the goalkeeper to move in either direction (left or right) without being obstructed by the goal post.

From this position, the goalkeeper should easily be able to direct rebounds out of bounds with no fear of the ball mistakenly sneaking into the goal at the near post.

This position will also allow the goalkeeper to get back into the goal quickly to make a save if the ball is cut back across in front of the goal.

During Near Post Scenarios one of four situations will happen:

  • Opponent will pass the ball away from goal to a teammate
  • Opponent will lose control of ball
  • Opponent will shoot
  • Opponent will attempt to cross ball in front of goal

The first situation is the easiest for the goalkeeper. He simply re-evaluates the situation and adopts the correct Ready Position and executes the proper tactics depending on where the ball is received by the opponent.

If the opponent loses control of the ball the goalkeeper must make a split second decision on whether or not he can make it to the loose ball. If the goalkeeper determines that he can get to the loose ball then he must call 'KEEPER' and sprint out of the goal and either scoop up the loose ball or make a diving tackle if there are any opponents in the area.

If the opponent shoots, the goalkeeper must focus his energy on saving the ball. The goalkeeper must remain patient and not move too early. If he has adopted the proper Ready Position and is standing in the correct place, he will already have most of the goal scoring area covered. He does not want to accidentally move out of the way of the ball. If the ball is not going to hit the goalkeeper, he should only have to move a short distance left or right to make the save. Saves at Near Post scenarios can be made with any part of the body and the feet will be used on a lot of occassions.

The goalkeeper should attempt to catch the ball if he feels comfortable, but in most cases this will not be possible or an acceptable risk to take. The goalkeeper should be more focused on how to control the rebounds. All rebounds should be directed out of bounds past the near post using the hands, body or feet. If the rebound cannot be directed out of play, it should be directed back towards the corner flag away from the front of the goal.

If the opponent decides to cross the ball in front of the goal the goalkeeper has three options:

  • Attempt to intercept the cross by catching it (in the air, or along the ground)
  • Attempt to re-direct the cross by deflecting it
  • Let the cross go and recover his position in front of the goal

The goalkeeper should only try to intercept or deflect the cross if he is 100% sure of making contact with the ball. If the goalkeeper fails to catch or re-direct the ball he will be left completely out of position and unable to have any further influence on the play. This will also leave the goal wide open to any attacks for an agonizingly short period of time until the goalkeeper is able to recover his position. To know when the goalkeeper should attempt to intercept the cross see 'Interception Visual Cues'

If the goalkeeper is unsure about intervening on the cross, he should utilize 'Position Recovery Tactics' to move across the front of the goal and get into the best possible position to save any shots that might occur as a result of the cross.


So why do we imagine the lines extending a foot or two outside of the posts, instead of having them extend directly from the posts? Wouldn't that be easier?


It may be easier for the goalkeeper to picture the lines extending directly from the posts, but it presents another problem that the goalkeeper should try to avoid if possible. By standing on a line that extends directly from the post it will inhibit the goalkeeper from committing himself 100% to a dive in the direction of the post. By diving in that direction he risks a heavy collision with the goal post.


By extending the lines a foot or two outside of the goal posts the goalkeeper still leaves himself in an excellent position to deal with any balls played across the face of the goal, but more importantly he is now free to dive in either direction without the risk of colliding into the nearest goal post.


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