One of the most important plays of the game, set pieces can be one of the most difficult things for a goalkeeper to deal with. Training for these moments is extremely important- make sure to touch base with your coach and develop a strategy for free kicks: who will be on the wall?; How many players?; Who will be the bullet man?
Keep the following in mind as you defend against free kicks.
- The 'Wall' is always comprised of Forwards and Midfielders
- The Goalkeeper should always set up the wall
- The keeper will tell them all details- how many, where to slide, and when to hold.
- The wall needs to run from shortest (in the middle of the goal) out to the tallest (at the edges).
- Five words to remember: wall, number, move right/move left, hold.
The numbers presented above represent where the free kick will be taken from and how many players should be in the wall if the kick is taken from that space.
One player should be completely outside the goal in the wall that the goalkeeper sets off of the keeper's near post to guard against bending around the wall.
That being said, every goalkeeper and coach will have a different approach to any free kicks taken outside of the threatening shooting range. You may find that any kicks taken from 35 yards or further don't require a wall or the coach may feel more comfortable with one person out that far.
It's important that goalkeepers learn to set a wall from the middle of their goal. All too often, keepers run to the front post when the whistle is blown, leaving the whole goal open- a terrible defensive mistake. Set the wall, and if the ref stops play to walk off 10 yards, the goalkeeper should go to the front post to correct any mistakes made.
If it's indirect in the box and close to the goal, goalkeepers should line players on the goalline, positioning themselves in front of the ball. In this situation, the keeper is the bullet; the player who runs at the ball during a free kick.
Handling corners during a free kick
Here's what you need to know about handling corner kicks:
- Anything within a 6-yard box aerial belongs to the goalkeeper. Period. More experienced goalkeepers should be able to extend their range beyond this. Focus on building confidence in goalkeeping so that the keeper can effectively collect corners and crosses in their goalbox.
- Start position will always vary but aim for a spot 2/3rds of the way to the far post. This puts the keeper in an advantageous defensive role as it is far easier to move forward than it is to move backward.
- Make it a rule of thumb to position a defender on the near post, shoulder right up against it and facing the corner. This player's sole focus should be to clear away the hard driven shots that the goalkeeper is unable to get to.