Shot Stopping / Angle Play

 Goalkeeper Tactics - Shot Stopping

The main objective of the goalkeeper will always be to prevent goals. This means the goalkeeper must be a capable 'Shot Stopper'.

Whenever the ball is located within 25-30 yards of the goal (red shaded area) the goalkeeper must focus all of his attention on dealing with potential direct shots at the goal.

Whenever the ball is located inside this red shaded area the goalkeeper should apply 'Shot Stopping' tactics.

 Goalkeeper Ready Position - Shot Stopper

When faced with balls positioned within shooting distance the goalkeeper should utilize ' Ready Position #1 - Shot Stopper '.

The goalkeeper should stand with feet shoulder width apart.

Hands are held at waist height (half-way between the ground and the head).Palms should be forward and fingers pointing up.

The goalkeepers body weight should be forward and he should be balanced on the balls of his feet.

The goalkeeper should utilize small hops/bounces to maintain tension on the legs and ensure that he is alert and ready for any sudden shots.

 As the opponent raises the kicking leg in preparation for a shot, the goalkeeper should execute a 'Split-Step' to ensure that he places maximum tension on the legs to allow him to explode in the direction of the ball when the shot is taken.

Angle play, sometimes called "narrowing the angles" or "challenging the shooter", occurs when the ball is in a shooting position and the goalkeeper moves closer to the ball in an attempt the decrease the amount of space the opponent has to shoot at.

Goalkeeper Tactics - Angle Play

If you imagine a line running from each goal post to the center of the ball it will form a triangle. The opponent must shoot the ball inside the boundaries of the triangle to score (this is not completely true, the best players are able to bend the ball around obstacles, but for simplicity sake, let's assume the opponent must shoot within the triangle). If the opponent shoots the ball outside the boundaries of the triangle the ball will travel wide of the goal.

As the goalkeeper moves out of the goal along the center of the triangle you will notice that the distance from the boundaries of the triangle decreases on both the goalkeepers left side and right side.

This means there is less room for the shooter to try and score. If the goalkeeper is able to get tight up against the ball, it is almost impossible for the opponent to shoot and score.

Goalkeeper Tactics - Angle Play

As the ball moves further away from the center of the goal you will notice that the triangle starts to become narrower. This means the goalkeeper does not have to move as far out of the goal to be able to cover the boundaries of the triangle.


In order to determine how far out of the goal he should stand, the goalkeeper first needs to imagine a line running parallel to the goal line approx. 3-4 yards out from the goal posts (red dotted line).

This line essentially splits the six yard box in half.

He should then imagine a semi-circle running from the outside of each post out to the edge of the red line. We refer to this semi-circle as the 'Goalkeepers Arc'.

Goalkeeper Tactics - Angle Play

The goalkeeper should maintain his 'Ready Position' and move along the 'Goalkeepers Arc' while staying directly in line with the ball and the center of the goal (Angle Play).

Goalkeeper Tactics - Angle Play

Another example of moving along the "Goalkeepers Arc' while staying in line with the ball and the center of the goal (Angle Play), even when the ball is located at a wider position and inside the Penalty Area.

By using the 'Goalkeepers Arc' as a guide the goalkeeper will have several advantages:

  • Narrow the angle
  • Increase his 'Angle of Deflection'
  • Maintain maximum 'Reaction Time'
  • Eliminate 'Lobbed/Chipped' shots

Often times goalkeepers are encouraged to play further out of the goal and to try and get as close to the ball as possible, especially when it is inside the penalty area. The Serious Goalkeeping Philosophy strongly discourages this style of play. Often the goalkeeper will move past the 'Goalkeepers Arc' too early and get caught standing half-way between the ball and the goal. We often refer to this as the 'Dead Zone' or 'No Man's Land'.

This is the worst possible place for the goalkeeper to be standing for several reasons:

  • Significantly reduces the goalkeepers 'Reaction Time'
  • Leaves him open to 'Lobbed/Chipped' Shots
  • More difficult/further to recover if the ball is passed to another opponent or a rebound occurs
  • Gives the opponent the option to try and dribble around the goalkeeper

The Serious Goalkeeping Philosophy encourages the goalkeeper to either 'Stay' or 'Go', but never to hesitate and get stuck in the middle.

As soon as the goalkeeper decides to leave the 'Goalkeepers Arc' he must move as fast as possible to try and make a 'Tackle' on the player in possession of the ball or to force him wide of the goal and buy his teammates time to recover and assist him.

There are many reasons why we encourage this 'All or Nothing' philosophy. Read our extensive study on Reaction Time and One v One Play for full details.

Goalkeeper Angle Play - Manuel Neuer

Here we see Manuel Neuer of Schalke 04 in the German Bundesliga using the 'Goalkeepers Arc' to position himself for a direct shot at the goal.


This video features goalkeeping legend Rinat Dasaev of Russia positioning along the 'Goalkeepers Arc' to make several fantastic saves (forward to 3:40 for the saves portion of the video).
Our Partners
Partner Clubs
 Storm S.C.
Copyright © 2013 Serious Soccer

Turn the Page!