The Western Indoor Soccer League (WISL) debuts this fall / winter in Washington. As they prepare to get rolling goalWA.net is partnering with the league and the Tacoma Soccer Center on “Inside Indoor Soccer,” which will look at the sport at all levels, including playing, coaching and watching. The content will vary from beginner to advanced. See all Inside Indoor Soccer columns here.
Playing goalie in indoor soccer is very, very hard. It requires lots of abilities and is in general a lot more difficult than outdoor soccer. This article will outline what you need to know and practice so you can be a better keeper!
The first thing that you definitely need is excellent reflexes. In indoor, the ball tends to come flying at you very fast from a short distance, so you need to be able to react and hit the ball away in a split second. The ball also spends a lot of time rebounding around the box, so you need to keep track of it and be able to quickly jump on it when you have a chance. Practicing your reaction speed and reflexes will definitely help you in indoor soccer!
The next attribute you need is field vision. Since the field is so cramped, you need to be constantly yelling at your players as a goalie. You have the best view of the field, so you are in the best position to provide feedback to your players. Tell them who to mark, when to push up, and when they’re screening you. All this will help to improve your team as a whole and make them appreciate you as a keeper.
The final important attribute for goalies is the ability to make quick decisions. Once you pick up the ball, you need to quickly make a decision and execute it. Since the game moves so quickly, you can’t let the other team reset and get back into their positions. One way to do this is quickly throw or kick the ball out to one of your defenders immediately and let them deal with it. Also, if you have a forward or midfielder open, it’s never a bad idea to hit the ball to them either.
- Low and Lower. With a goal only six feet high, only the youngest and smallest goalkeepers need to worry about getting beat over the top. Many shots are from close in and along the ground — the goalkeeper needs to cover as much of that area as possible. Keep the knees bent, hands down and wide, and the head up. This is the same position you take up once you close down an attacker on a breakaway.
- Be Patient on Breakaways. The penalty area, where the keeper is allowed to use their hands, is much smaller indoors than out. If you leave the line too soon, you’ll run out of space and quickly become stranded. Time your run to meet the attacker a yard or so inside the top of the area.
- Use Your Feet. The small penalty area also means that the keeper needs to leave that area more often to sweep up stray balls. Don’t sit on the line! Use the opportunity to get involved and work on those footskills — clear long balls, be available for backpasses, and be part of the game.
- Coordinate with Your Defense. Due to the lack of an offside rule, you will face many more breakaways and 2v1 situations. Make sure you and your defense are on the same page — if there are two attackers and only one defender, should the defender take the ball carrier or play the pass? Personally, I prefer to have the defender cover the pass, since I feel indoors I can cover the entire net and stop the shot. This is the opposite of what I ask my defenders to do outdoors. Which way you go is personal preference, but make sure you talk about it first.
I’m just going to reiterate that last point, because it’s very important. The most important thing you can do as a goalie in indoor soccer is decide and execute very quickly. You need to keep the game moving and allow your offense the chance for a counterattack. The only time you shouldn’t do this is when you’re winning by a lot and want to waste time.
To practice for indoor soccer, I would have a friend throw me balls very quickly, one after another. They should be standing close to you and throw them hard to one of your sides, mixing up the height. This mimics what it is like to play goalie in indoor soccer. If you want to add twist, have another friend moving around behind your first friend, and when you make a save, throw the ball to him very quickly.
One last hint for playing goalie in indoor soccer: more often than not, you don’t actually grab on to the ball. Most of the time you should just be hitting it or punching it away from the goal, and that’s just fine! It’s much too hard to catch a ball when it’s shot hard from nearby.
Now that you know what to do in goal in indoor soccer, go out and practice! Only practice will make you better, so go out and get it!