Footwork and Handling in the Warm-Up

By Tony Englund -

Goalkeeping warm-ups typically feature isolated handling and footwork exercises, and one of our points of emphasis in our club setting is to roll these two elements together in the warm-up to create more efficient and realistic training. This article features a trio of simple, favorite means of mixing these critical elements in the warm-up.


#1: Zig-Zag and Save

The goalkeeper does footwork through the cone zig-zag. When the goalkeeper gets through the flag gate and sets his feet, the attacker shoots. Adjust the number of cones and distance of the shooter based on desired focus.


  • The goalkeeper faces away from the attacker when doing footwork and then turns after passing through the gate to face the shot (reactions emphasis).
  • The goalkeeper shuffles to each cone and then jumps over it and back before continuing (extra footwork, fitness emphasis).
  • The goalkeeper does complete circles of footwork around each cone before continuing (footwork and fitness).
  • The goalkeeper drops and does a push-up over each cone before continuing (fitness).
  • The attacker varies their shot type to meet the goalkeeper’s needs (high or low shots, break-aways, etc.)

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#2: Pairs Footwork and Handling

Here the goalkeepers work in pairs shuffling down and back on the cone lines as shown. The first three circuits are completed with a single ball which is chest-passed back and forth between goalkeepers every few steps. Encourage the goalkeepers not to work at top speed, focusing instead on quality footwork and handling.


  • ‘Keepers bounce-pass the ball back and forth as they work.
  • Add a second ball. One ‘keeper always chest-passes while the other bounce-passes.
  • With two balls, one goalkeeper chest-passes while the other tosses knee high. Can they pass through the entire cone line without dropping a ball?

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#3: Small Cone Goal Warm-Up with Handling

The goalkeeper shuffles around one cone and then back between and in front of the cone goal before being served by the attacker. This is intensive footwork, but excellent for getting the goalkeeper to change directions and challenge a shooter. Alternate sides with each repetition.

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  • Attacker chest-passes balls for goalkeeper to catch standing up.
  • Attacker bounce-passes balls for goalkeeper to catch standing up.
  • Attacker passes balls on the ground for the goalkeeper to collect (not diving).
  • Attacker tosses lofted balls for the goalkeeper to jump and catch.
  • Attacker shoots low (diving saves).
  • Attacker dribbles (goalkeeper closes down and takes ball).
  • Attacker shoots randomly for the goalkeeper to save.

By Tony Englund - Holds an NSCAA Premier License and 11 other diplomas. Tony has presented goalkeeping clinics for the NSCAA and is the author of six books including: Goalie Wars! and Art of the Duel

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