Diving forward is one of the single-most important concepts in successful goalkeeping. It's imperative to practice this skill with the proper technique. Believe it or not, it wasn’t until I started playing professional soccer that I truly came to understand and implement the concept of diving forward. Sure, I had heard growing up that diving forwards was better than diving backwards, but it never seemed like that crucial of a detail to me, and nobody ever corrected me on this until I was playing for the Portland Timbers in 2009.
The goalkeeper who started ahead of me that year, who had four years of MLS experience, I might add, really started to get on my case about diving forward in an attempt to attack the ball. I’m definitely grateful that I listened to him, because I am a far better shot-blocker today than I was as a rookie. In my opinion, diving forward is one of the single-most important concepts in goalkeeping. You can ask any of the players that I have coached and they will tell you that this is something that I stress every time that I coach.
Dive? Like a Swimmer?
Not Exactly... So what exactly does it mean to dive forwards? Obviously, you don’t want to dive straight forwards or you will not be covering much of the goal. If you look at the goal line and the direction you dive in as an angle, it is best to dive at somewhere between a 10-20 degree angle.
Some of you might be wondering, what is the benefit of diving in this direction? There are several answers to that, but two of them stand out in my mind. First and foremost, you cut down the angle and therefore you make complicated save situations less complicated. Another very important benefit is that when you tip the ball, you're less likely to tip it into your own goal.
Should you dive forward every time you dive? No. Sometimes you have to dive backwards or straight sideways in order to make a save, and that is perfectly fine. The goal is to dive forwards as much as possible, keeping in mind that the ultimate goal is to keep the ball out of the net. Diving forward is something that I constantly emphasize when I am training my goalkeepers, and I think that it should be taught from a very young age. My game has benefited greatly from this concept and it is something that I am happy to share with the next generation of goalkeepers.
(Related: Read about recovering from a concussion here.)
For aspiring goalkeepers, it's important to tip-toe the line between too often and never, only racing out of your position when the appropriate situation calls for it. There's an incredible amount of scenarios in which a goalkeeper's inactivity will leave them out to dry with no angle. Waiting too long allows the striker to get closer and acquire a much higher percentage shot.
But if you're still struggling with the confidence needed to command your box, consider booking one of CoachUp's private trainers to help you out. We have plenty of experience goalkeepers that can teach you the fundamentals and lead you towards another level. What are you waiting for?
Be prepared for the biggest moments by mastering the small ones off the field.