4 Goalkeeper Handling Techniques for Better Saves

Nov 10, 2021

Image Source: Top Soccer Coach

Handling the ball as a goalkeeper is an art form in its own right. Different hand shapes can produce different results for goalkeepers, so it’s important for goalies to learn what they are. Practicing ball handling using different hand shapes can expand a goalkeeper’s versatility, giving them the ability to make more challenging saves. This post will examine the four main types of hand shapes. Goalies need to learn.

Scoop (“Ramp”)

As its name suggests, the “scoop” is a simple scooping up of the ball that’s on the ground or slightly above the ground. The scoop is best reserved for low balls. They are usually no higher than knee-height and they are easy to grab off the ground.

You can use a scoop for both slow- and fast-paced balls, and for various types of shots, through-passes and crosses. Mind you, you should only use a scoop if you have time to position yourself in line with the ball to get control of the ball. 

How to Scoop the Soccer Ball 

  • Position your body so you’re in with the direction of the ball
  • Bend your elbows slightly
  • Extend your fingers and palms to create a ramp for the ball to roll onto
  • Scoop it against your chest
  • Position your body as a wall behind the ball for extra protection

When executing the scoop, you should collapse forward and shield the ball, especially if it’s moving fast or with a spin. This prevents it from escaping your hands.  

Cup (“Basket”)

The Cup (or basket) is essentially a technique goalkeepers use to catch the ball. Goalkeepers tend to use the cup to save shots that reach the mid-drift (the lower torso/abdomen). As its name suggests, you shape your arms and hands in a way that resembles a cup, so the ball can land. The cup is most effective when you anticipate a hard shot. You can use the cup to block fast-paced shots, crosses, loose balls, and ball bounces. 

How to Cup the Soccer Ball 

  • Focus on the ball and its movement at all times
  • Align yourself square to the ball, leaning your body weight forward slightly
  • Hold your hands and fingers out to touch the ball 
  • Guide the ball (shot) into your chest/stomach area, allowing it to your body (to cushion the shot) while maintaining your forward lean
  • Wrap your hands and forearms around the ball tightly (as if hugging it) and bring your head and body into the ball for a better group

Like the scoop, you should execute the cup while “collapsing forward” into the ball. When you collapse into the ball, you can prevent the ball from slipping out of your hands and can block hard shots easier as well. 

W’s (“V’s”)

The W (double “V”) technique is the go-to maneuver for shots kicked at head height. It’s also useful for aerial crosses. The technique is called the “W” because the goalkeeper forms a W-shape with their hands, with both thumbs touching each other. You can use the W for shots, crosses, loose balls, and any other scenario when the ball flies high. Of course, you can also use the W to catch those lofty balls falling from the air. 

How to W the Soccer Ball 

  • Focus on the ball and its movement at all times
  • Align your body so that the ball is directly in front of you, keeping your elbows slightly bent as you raise your hands (to catch the ball)
  • Spread your fingers apart (keep them wide) and bring your thumbs together to form the “W” shape
  • Wrap your thumbs and fingers around the contour of the soccer ball, ensuring the latex of the gloves makes as much contact with the ball as possible
  • Keep your wrists firm (to prevent your hand from the ball) and your hands soft (to act as a shock absorber)
  • Bring the ball down into your chest by wrapping your hands and forearms tightly around it 

As a note, firm wrists don’t mean stiff wrists and soft hands don’t mean weak hands. There needs to be a degree of suppleness and strength in the hands and wrist. This is an arguably tricky balance to strike, but you will find it easier to achieve with regular practice and conditioning. 

Diving (“Hand’s Leading”)

The Hands Leading technique is essentially a dive with the W-hand shape. The purpose of this technique is to save the ball when it’s too far from the goalkeeper to claim it on their feet. You can use the Hand’s Leading technique for a variety of saves, whether it’s for saves, crosses or loose balls.

However, it’s quite a dramatic maneuver and is best reserved for shots that aren’t aimed at goal corners and are not easily saved by other techniques aimed at defending goal lines. 

How to Use the Hand’s Leading Technique

  • Focus on the ball and its movement at all times
  • In the ready position, launch the leg closest to the ball inwards and drop down to block the shot (you can spring off your grounded leg if needed)
  • Move both hands simultaneously to meet the ball, keeping them close
  • As the ball reaches your gloves, keep your elbows bent slightly to catch the ball 
  • Put the hand closest to the ball behind and the other hand on top (to further secure and protect the ball)  

The Hand’s Leading technique is one of the more technically challenging goalkeeper moves and needs to be deployed at the right time for maximum effect. With that said, Hand’s Leading technique can be a lifesaving move against challenging football shots. 

Mastering Goalkeeper Technique 

Stellar goalkeeping requires a lot more than lightning-fast reflexes and acrobatic agility - technique matters too. Good technique encompasses many things, but what you do with your hands is a big part of your technique. Mastering the four handling techniques mentioned in this article will put you many steps ahead of goalkeepers who don’t master hand posture. 

With that said, choosing doesn’t forget some basics as well. Make sure to choose the best goalie gloves for your age and experience/skill level. This will help you get the most out of your performance against opposing teams and protect your hand from injury. You can also take some other steps to prevent injury such as finger-tapping and using hand wraps. 

All in all, the right technique (and protective gear) can unlock the goalkeeping ability and performance you have always wanted. 

Need a pair of goalie gloves? Browse through our selection of goalkeeper gloves to find the right fit and style for you! 

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