Defending from the goal-line

Antonio García, 05 Mar 2024


This exercise involves the goalkeeper defending a shot or a far-post attacking action in what is referred to as “zone 1”. The drill works on the goalkeeper’s decision-making, reactions and positioning when faced with a range of scenarios.


  • Set up a 15x20m playing area.

  • Place a goal at one end of the playing area.

  • Mark out a dotted line 9m from the goal line using cones and create two 5-metre-wide zones.

  • Place a pair of attackers in each wide zone, 1m behind the 9m line. Position one attacker inside the penalty area. Arrange the remaining two attackers, who take it in turns to occupy the role of the attacker inside the penalty area after each sequence, in a queue between the two central zones.

  • Set up with four goalkeepers: one in goal and the other three (goalkeepers 2, 3 and 4) beside the goal.

  • Give goalkeepers 2, 3 and 4 a ball.


  • Goalkeeper 2, who is positioned beside the goal, has two options to begin each sequence: either to play the ball to the attacker positioned inside the penalty area to finish on goal first-time or to pass to one of the two wide players, who control the ball before advancing and either finishing directly on goal or passing to the team-mate inside the penalty area, who takes up a position at the far post.

  • The sequence ends when the ball goes out of play, the goalkeeper gains possession or a goal is scored.

  • Once the sequence is over, the goalkeepers rotate positions, with goalkeeper 3 rolling the ball from beside the goal to the second attacker in the queue, goalkeeper 2 taking up a position in goal, goalkeeper 1 occupying a position beside the goal and goalkeeper 4 moving forward a position in the queue beside the goal.

  • While the ball is in play, any player on the pitch (even those waiting in a queue) can finish on goal with a maximum of two touches.


  • The attacker positioned in the penalty area has a maximum of three touches in which to finish on goal.

  • When the goalkeeper makes a save, the attacker whose shot was saved becomes a defender to create a 2v1 scenario (plus the goalkeeper). The goalkeeper rolls the ball out to either of the attackers and works with the defender to defend the attacking situation.

Coaching points

  • The goalkeeper should focus on adopting the right position to be able to deal with various attacking scenarios.

  • The goalkeeper should constantly adjust their position to ensure that they are between the ball and the goal line at all times.

  • When performing the split save, the goalkeeper should slide their heel along the ground.

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