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South Texas Youth Soccer


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Who should take the goal kick in the youth game?


August 18, 2016
Nikki Swanson- STYSA ODP Staff Coach and Director of Goalkeeping


There is an unsettling trend in soccer in which coaches are having field players take the goal kicks in games instead of the goalkeeper starting age 9 and up.  We have all been guilty of choosing the more physically developed player with the powerful kick to take the goal kicks so the team doesn’t lose possession near the goal. In reality we are hurting the goalkeepers’ development and understanding of their role in the game. Coaches should be encouraging their goalkeepers to take their own goal kicks. This will help develop and improve their technique on striking the ball, build their confidence and give them a better understanding of the game. 

U.S. Soccer has recognized the issue of youth players struggling to play out of the back and has announced that the “build out line” will be enforced this coming season for U9 & U10. (For more information about U.S. Soccer Player Development Initiatives please click here).  The rule for the build out line states, “Players on the opposing team must behind this line during a goal kick or when the goalkeeper has possession of the ball.  The goalkeeper will wait until the other team is behind the build out line and then will roll/throw or pass the ball to a teammate. After the ball is played out by goalkeeper then the opposing team can cross the build out line and resume play as normal.” This will help encourage players and coaches to feel more secure about trying to play out of the back as most children this age are not physically developed to hit a long ball. 

 Here are a few suggestions to help your goalkeeper with their goal kicks:

  1. Be sure the goalkeeper understands the rule of the goal kick and where they can take the kick (anywhere inside the 6yd box).
  2. Have your goalkeeper arrive early or stay late after practice for 10-15 minutes and work with them on their goal kicks. 
  3. Using an extra goal, have goalkeepers work on chipping over the goal so they can get the height needed to get past the first line of pressure.
  4. During practice have restarts using goal kicks from the goalkeeper. If they make a save they must restart with a goal kick.
  5. Anytime goalkeepers are not directly involved with the field players have them work on their goal kicks.
  6. Encourage your goalkeepers to find time other than practice time to work on goal kicks.
  7. Help them understand how important it is that they take the kick so your team doesn’t have a restart with numbers down.
  8. You could let your goalkeepers play soccer golf on the fields.
  9. Encourage goalkeepers to take kicks in different areas of the box from the outside corner to the center (depending on skill level).
  10. Work with the goalkeeper and the back line so they understand situations to play quick and short or when to play longer.


 Due to the power and strength needed to strike the ball, repetitions should be kept to a minimum.  This will prevent injury and overworking the legs of the goalkeeper.

We hope you will be able to use some of these recommendations to improve your goalkeeper’s ability to build the play from the back and to follow the U.S. Soccer Development Initiatives! Good luck this season!


NIkki Swanson  is a former Texas A&M goalkeeper graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Education. Nicki furthered her education and received a Master's of Kinesiology with an emphasis in Sport Psychology from the University of North Texas. She currently holds her NSCAA National, Regional, and State Goalkeeping licenses and a USSF C License. 

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