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Soccer Goalkeepers

What is goalkeepers in soccer? Get ready to learn about goalkeepers in soccer.


Soccer is an interesting game in that there aren't strict rules on the required number of players which must play each position. The only exception is the goalkeeper. Each team has one goalkeeper, who is the only player on the team permitted to use their hands and arms to contact the ball.

Soccer Goalkeeper

IMPORTANT: The rules of the game require that one player on the pitch be a goalkeeper per team.

The goalkeeper is the last line of defense a soccer team has for keeping the ball out of the net; They stand guard in the goal. Goalkeepers are responsible for making saves and periodically playing the ball by passing it to teammates on the pitch.

Goal Mouth

The Goal Mouth is the area in which a goalie typically stands during play, just in front of the goal line.

Soccer Goal Mouth

Penalty Area

The Penalty Area is the large box around each goal where penalties are awarded for fouls against the attacking team. This is also the only area on the pitch where a goalkeeper is allowed to use their hands to play the ball.

REMEMBER: A goalkeepers can only use his hands to play the ball in his own team's penalty area.

Goalkeeper Hand-Use

It's important to note, that it is illegal to use your hands in soccer to play the ball. The goalie is the only member of the team who can use his hands to pickup, pass, or prevent the ball from entering the net. Goalkeepers are allowed to use their hands inside the penalty box.

Goals And Job

The goalkeeper's jobs on the pitch will change depending on the position of the ball on the pitch. However, a goalkeeper's core jobs are to:

  • to prevent the ball from entering the net for a goal
  • to block and catch shots on goal
  • to pass the ball to teammates
  • to perform goal kicks

On defense, goalkeepers are often the one organizing defensive strategies and communicating with the defenders.

Goalkeeper Strategies

The good goalkeeper accomplishes these goals by constantly moving and changing his position on the pitch based on the location of the ball.

He must anticipate where the ball is going at all times. A good goalkeeper will only leave the penalty area to play a ball if offensive players are not near by.

The bigger a goalkeeper can make himself, the larger the portion of the goal he blocks and protects.

Goalkeeper's Jersey And Player Numerals

In professional competitions, goalkeepers wear a different jersey from the rest of the players to signify their differentiation to the officials. Historically, goalies wear the number one, and is more often used by goalies over the other positional nomenclature.

Open Nets

Only in extreme circumstances will the net ever be left unguarded by a goalkeeper.


A Deflection is when a goalkeeper or player is able to touch the ball after it's been shot to alter its trajectory. When a shot is deflected by the goalkeeper into the net, the shooter is awarded the goal.

Goalie Key Statistics

There are few important statistics that define a good goalkeeper:

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