As a keeper, you have to not only think about stopping the shots coming at you, but you also have to think about your delivery of the ball back into play. This is rarely as simple as kicking the ball as hard as you can up the field.
There’s a few things to think about and that’s because the goal kick can be an excellent tool in the goalkeepers arsenal to help control the tempo of the game. There are endless ways in which you can use your goal kick, but let's look at a few of the key options.
Holding onto the ball for longer
This is the main way that goalkeepers can utilise their kicks to manipulate the game in front of them. There are many reasons for this but the main one is for when the opposing team is putting pressure on your defenders.
It’s worth noting that usually keepers will only use this when their team is in the lead. Wasting precious minutes when you’re falling behind is never a good thing, even if the other team does have the momentum. Also bear in mind the 6-second rule for possession, so ensure you always have a defender to pass a short ball to.
Kicking the ball upfield
Kicking the ball upfield is a great way to give your team a chance to get a break. It’s risky because your opponents may immediately regain possession of the ball. If you’re trailing behind in the latter ends of the game then this is a good tactic to use. You sometimes want the other team’s strikers to pull back into their half as much as possible to prevent them getting another goal.
Quickly playing the ball short to a defender.
Instead of punting the ball upfield or holding onto the ball for a while, sometimes you may want to quickly play the ball back to a defender. This allows them to start making passes and start building an attack and is generally a great way to just keep up the pace of the game in your team's favor.
The risk here is that you give the ball to a defender in a dangerous position, so be sure not to throw your teammate under the bus like that!
The long throw
If you see an opposition attacker has come too deep into your half of the field, you might spot an opportunity for a long throw - especially if you see a defender or midfielder making a run in the open.
This is useful if you are trying to allow your team to counter an attack and a great way to give your team some pace over the opposition.
These are just a few of the ways you can control the pace of the game. There are many more. But most importantly, you have to train your reactions to intuitively know which is the best move to make. If you have to make a quick move, a few seconds can make a big difference. It’s definitely worth taking some time to work on in practice and see how it pays off.