The goalkeeper is the only player on a soccer team who can use his hands. He therefore needs special training.
A goalkeeper should have a "safe" pair of hands, courage, good anticipation, agility and good reflexes. Prefereably, he should be tall. He can spread confidence by being composed and in control, rather than flashy and acrobatic.
Long periods of time may elapse without him being directly involved in the play, so he must concentrate fully throughout the game.
Although he is the last line of defense. He can be the first line of offense through his controlled, accurate distribution of the ball, either by hand or by foot, after making a save.
Distribution should be practiced.
During practice sessions, some keepers like to play out in the field. Besides gaining fitness, such keepers also experience the various ways of scoring goals. This improves their knowledge as goalkeepers.
Diagram 1 -- When making the save, the body must be behind the ball. On ground balls, the legs are kept close together. If the keeper goes down on one knee, he must not leave "holes."
Diagram 2 -- Arms should be extended when catching a high ball. The finished position of all saves is with the hands around the ball and into the chest -- the safest place.
If a crossed ball into the arena is too high to collect, it should be palmed or punched clear. The same should be done with a high shot on goal. When punching, hit the ball as one would a punching bag. Depending on the situation, a one-handed punch may be best.
Timing and judgment of when to leave the goal line is important. However, once the decision is made, the keeper must keep to it.
The goalkeeper must assert himself in his area, and keep his eye on the ball and not on the players.
He must always know where he is in relation to the goalposts.
Leaving the line narrows the shooting angle. On a shot from the side, the near side of the goal must be covered. It is difficult for the shooter to score on the far side.
On a one-on-one situation, the goalkeeper rushes from his line, thereby narrowing the angle. He tries to get his opponent to commit himself (to do what he wants him to do). If, and when, the shot is about to be taken, the keeper should get into the set position, crouched, balanced and on his toes. Sometimes he must dive, spreading his body to smother the ball.
The goalkeeper has all the players in front of him and so he should always communicate. On free-kick situations, where a "wall" is set up, the keeper is responsible for the alignment. Outfielders can make a mistake and it generally can be covered up. Not so with a goalkeeper, whose mistakes will lead to a goal being scored.
Experience is vital, so goalkeepers need as much practice as possible.
Diagram 3 -- Keep hands to the side and behind the ball.