Goalkeeper’s Handbook: 5 Crucial Rules When They Can’t Use Hands

Discover the 5 crucial rules for goalkeepers when they can't use their hands. From mastering footwork to defending crosses, this guide has you covered.

In the world of soccer, goalkeepers are known for their exceptional ability to use their hands to save goals. But what happens when that crucial skill is taken away? In this article, we will explore the five crucial rules that every goalkeeper must follow when they find themselves unable to use their hands. From mastering footwork to perfecting their positioning, these guidelines will help goalkeepers navigate the unique challenges they face without the use of their hands. So, whether you’re a goalkeeper looking to enhance your skills or simply curious about the finer points of the game, this goalkeeper’s handbook is here to guide you through the incredible feats accomplished by goalkeepers when their hands are out of the picture. Let’s dive in!

Rule 1: Use of Feet

1.1 Positioning

As a goalkeeper, the positioning of your feet is crucial. It allows you to quickly react to any incoming shots or passes. Keep in mind that proper foot positioning will allow you to have a solid base and maintain balance at all times. When positioning your feet, make sure they are shoulder-width apart, allowing you to move quickly in any direction. Remember, having a strong base with your feet will provide stability and give you a better chance of making saves.

1.2 Kicking Techniques

Using your feet effectively is not only about positioning but also about the technique you employ when kicking the ball. While you cannot directly catch the ball, you can still use your feet to make accurate and powerful clearances. Practice your kicking technique regularly to ensure you can strike the ball with precision. Remember to strike through the center of the ball and follow through with your kicking leg for added power. A well-executed kick can help you launch the ball upfield, changing the momentum of the game.

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1.3 Timing and Accuracy

Timing and accuracy are essential when using your feet as a goalkeeper. You need to anticipate the trajectory of the ball to make effective clearances. Focus on the timing of your kicks to ensure you make contact with the ball at the right moment. Additionally, aim for accuracy when selecting your target. By being precise with your kicks, you can set up your teammates for counter-attacks, initiating quick transitions from defense to offense.

Rule 2: Use of Head

2.1 Timing and Anticipation

When it comes to using your head as a goalkeeper, timing and anticipation are key. By closely observing the flight of the ball, you can position yourself to make a well-timed header. Anticipate the trajectory and speed of the ball to ensure you make contact at the highest point of your jump. Proper timing will allow you to clear aerial threats effectively and redirect the ball away from dangerous areas.

2.2 Clearing the Ball

Clearing the ball with your head is an important skill for a goalkeeper. Aim to make contact with the ball with the center of your forehead for optimal power and control. As with kicking techniques, follow through with your header to add extra force. The objective is to redirect the ball away from your goal, either into open space or towards your teammates in order to start a counter-attack.

2.3 Defending Crosses

Defending crosses requires a different approach than other types of headers. You need to position yourself well in the goal box and be ready to react quickly. When a cross is incoming, assess the flight of the ball and determine whether you should intercept it or communicate with your defenders to ensure they clear it. Anticipate the movement of opponents and be assertive in claiming the ball. Remember, precise and dominant heading can prevent goal-scoring opportunities for the opposition.

Rule 3: Use of Chest

3.1 Blocking Shots

Using your chest to block shots can be an effective technique in certain situations. Position your body in line with the incoming shot and brace yourself for impact. Keep your arms close to your body to avoid the risk of a handball. When blocking shots with your chest, focus on redirecting the ball away from your goal and towards a safe area. This technique requires practice and anticipation to ensure you position yourself correctly.

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3.2 Controlling High Balls

Controlling high balls with your chest is a valuable skill for a goalkeeper. By cushioning the ball with your chest, you can bring it under control and maintain possession for your team. When a high ball is incoming, assess the flight and decide whether using your chest is the most effective option. Aim to cushion the ball softly with your chest, allowing it to drop to your feet or making it easier for you to catch.

3.3 Aerial Challenges

In aerial challenges, using your chest can give you an advantage over opponents. Position yourself well and be prepared to contest for the ball. By combining precise timing, physical presence, and using your chest to win aerial battles, you can gain control in the air and ensure the ball remains in your team’s possession. Confidence and communication with your teammates are crucial in securing successful aerial challenges.

Rule 4: Use of Elbows and Shoulders

4.1 Creating Distance

Elbows and shoulders can be used to create distance between yourself and attacking players. Dealing with close-range situations requires physicality and assertiveness. Position yourself in a way that allows you to use your elbows and shoulders legally without committing a foul. By using your upper body, you can push opposing players away and create space to make a save or clear the ball.

4.2 Protecting the Goal

Protecting the goal with your elbows and shoulders is essential in crowded situations, such as during corner kicks or free-kicks into the penalty area. Use your upper body to establish a strong presence and prevent opposing players from getting a clear shot on goal. By effectively using your elbows and shoulders without committing fouls, you can make it more challenging for attackers to score.

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4.3 Dealing with Players

As a goalkeeper, you’ll often encounter situations where opposing players are closing in on you. By using your elbows and shoulders appropriately, you can deter opponents from challenging you aggressively. Assertiveness and confidence are key components when dealing with players in your immediate vicinity. Be aware of the rules and ensure you do not use excessive force, provoking unnecessary fouls or penalties. Maintain control and calmness to navigate these situations successfully.

Rule 5: Use of Legs and Body

5.1 Diving Techniques

Diving is an essential skill for goalkeepers to make spectacular saves. Proper technique is crucial to cover as much ground as possible and reach the ball quickly. When diving, push off with your dominant leg towards the direction you need to reach. Extend your arms fully to increase your reach and maximize the chances of making a save. Remember to keep your eyes on the ball and maintain good body control throughout the dive.

5.2 Smothering the Ball

Smothering the ball involves using your legs and body to cover and secure the ball when it’s on the ground. When an opponent is near your goal, get down quickly and engulf the ball with your legs and body. By preventing the ball from bouncing or rebounding, you can eliminate potential scoring opportunities for the opposition. Effective smothering requires being alert, reacting quickly, and positioning yourself well.

5.3 Tackling and Interceptions

While goalkeepers are usually not known for their tackling skills, there may be situations where making a tackle or interception becomes necessary. Use your legs and body to execute these actions effectively. When properly timed and executed, these interventions can prevent opponents from advancing towards your goal. However, be mindful of the rules and avoid excessive force or dangerous challenges, as this can result in penalties or potential injury to yourself or others.


Mastering the use of your feet, head, chest, elbows, shoulders, legs, and body as a goalkeeper is crucial for success. By honing these skills and understanding the rules and techniques associated with each category, you can elevate your performance and contribute greatly to your team’s success. Remember, practice regularly, communicate effectively with your teammates, and always prioritize safety and fair play. With dedication and determination, you can become a formidable presence in the goal, making crucial saves and turning the tide of the game in your team’s favor.