Soccer Skills:

When Should a Goalkeeper Leave Their Box?

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Leaving the box can be a tough choice - (Photo: Article.wn.com)

Any soccer team’s goalie is typically placed within the confines of the penalty box and will generally stay within those boundaries for the duration of the game.  Naturally, it is the correct area for goalkeepers as they are only permitted to use their hands within this space.  However, sometimes a goalie will be called to action and will need to venture outside the penalty box, and how he or she does in this role can be vital in determining the outcome of a soccer match.

One such situation is when your team is pushing players forward.  Whether your squad is dominating play and trying score a winner, or if your team is behind a goal and desperately trying to snatch a late equalizer, your team may find itself without a player in your own half, besides the goalkeeper.

In these situations, your team will be left vulnerable to counter-attacks from the opponent.  The other team is likely to get the ball and simply clear it downfield in an effort to re-organize their defenders.

When the ball comes into your half, the goalie must be ready to attack it.  There is a good bet that their striker will be racing to get ahold of the long ball, and depending on where the ball lands, it may be your goalie’s responsibility to track it down and kick it.  Sometimes, the goalie and striker will be in a dead race in order to reach the ball so quick reactions are very important.  Basically, the role here is that of a sweeper which entitles your goalie to cover the entire defensive half.

Another option for goalie venturing is when your team is losing by a single goal with roughly one minute left to go and your team has a set piece opportunity in the opponent’s third of the field.  This is the ultimate moment for a goalkeeper.  Yes, this is their moment to score and become the game-saving hero.  A goalie must sprint the length of the field and into the opposing penalty box in an effort the help find a goal.  Rarely does this spectacle play out successfully, but when it does it is a glorious occasion for the goalkeeper.  A more likely and painful scenario is where the defense clears the ball, forcing your team into a foot-race back to your own goal where there is a good possibility of conceding.  But remember, losing 1-0 is just the same as 2-0, so it is worth the potential second goal if you increase your chances to earn a draw.

Because of these possibilities, it is important that the goalie is trained in how to handle these moments, especially the sweeper role, because it is often required in games.  Spend some time teaching your goalie how to judge whether he or she should leave the box, and how to challenge player, as this will greatly improve your team and will hopefully prevent an embarrassing situation for the whole squad.

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Nicholas Spiller resides in LA where he dreams of musical super-stardom on his bass guitar. He also writes for Sportspiller.com and is an avid Arsenal fan!

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