A Little Off Center

By Jason Stockmann -

One of the things that I have found to be challenging for younger keepers is how to position for corner kicks. To be fair, younger field players have a rough go at it as well…they tend to either be milling around aimlessly or almost on the goal line as if the ball will go right to them and, boom, winning goal and MVP!

The keeper however is not just one of the multitude. During a corner, the keeper is a focal point – you are in his or her house and it is their job to protect that house at all costs. But like any good protection system, your foundation has to be set up correctly.

Many younger keepers gravitate to either the close post or right in the middle of the goal line. While we know the close post position is a no-no, at least the middle of the goal line is close. Coaches have different preferences, but I’m going to show you a couple activities around where I would prefer keepers to place themselves.

The drill I offer up today is one I call “A Little Off Center” and it offers the following benefits:

  • Goalkeepers – field strategy, decision making, communication, dexterity
  • Field players – set piece tactics; field placement; keeper communication

I like this drill for keepers because it helps them learn how to set up for and stay aware of the penalty area and the field players during a corner kick.

I like this drill for field players because it helps the players with field tactics for corner kicks both from an attacking defending perspective.

This drill can also help with keeper-field player communication and trust.


Players: one or two keepers; two or more field players
Gear needed: penalty box area with goal; 6-10 soccer balls


We start this drill out simply – one keeper, two defenders, one attacker (kicker). This simplicity helps establish simple positioning for the keeper where the defenders guard the posts (about 6 inches inside the post and inches off the line) and the keeper learns to position themselves just back of center and just off the line, giving them the broadest sphere of influence (yellow lines/arc) while still ‘staying safe’ as the diagram below shows.

With the players set up like this, have the kicker take some corners. The keeper should make the appropriate save (catch, punch, etc.) while the defenders basically just stand in place. This helps simulate what the keeper has to work with directly around him.


And now here’s the beauty of this drill….that’s all it takes for the basics. Once your keeper is comfortable with this and making solid decisions and saves, then simply add things to the basic equation such as (some example diagrams follow):

  • More players – Add mobile defenders and attackers
  • Change up attacking patterns – attackers just standing around waiting for the kick, attackers running in from the top of the box or the sides as the kick is taken, etc.
  • Vary the corner kicks – have kickers use both feet, have them do in-swingers and out-swingers, have them place the ball close to the goal, by the spot, close side/far side, etc.
  • Switch sides – will help keepers work on their strong and weaker sides
  • Level of difficulty – use players only as obstacles or use them in a game-like scenario with shooting, passing, etc.


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The whole purpose of this drill is teach keepers a solid way to control their goal/penalty box during a corner kick, and doing so in a progressive manner – start simple, add complexity. While this may not be the only method, staying just back of center with defenders at the posts covers a lot of space and helps ensure keepers and players alike are aware of the dangers.

There isn’t much fitness built in to this drill unfortunately – this drill is one of those that is more focused on technique and tactics than getting the fitness work in.


  • Aside from the items above, you could add in a point system to make this more of a game (i.e. any goals count as one, any saves count as one, etc.)
  • Add a second kicker on the opposite side and rapid-fire kicks back and forth into the box to help create confusion and encourage split-second decisions

By Jason Stockman - Coach at Missouri Rush

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